The opening line of Lullaby is one of the most powerful I have ever read in a novel.
“The baby is dead, it only took a few seconds.”
It chilled me to the bone and as I read on I realised that there was going to be no twist to this book, it isn’t all a mistake.
Lullaby begins with the murder of two tiny children by their nanny. It describes the devastated mother stumbling upon the gruesome scene.
By revealing the tragic end to this murderous nanny tale first, I was left with a sense of impending doom hanging over me as I read the rest. From the beginning there is no escape from the horrific conclusion of this novel, it haunts every twist, turn and reveal of the book.
As a result, Lullaby was a devastating and compelling read that I wanted to put down, but couldn’t.
It was like watching a car crash unfold right before your eyes. There was nothing I could do, and I had to keep reminding myself that it’s just a story.
The story sees mother-of-two Myriam decide it’s time to return to work. She has grown bored of her life as a stay-at-home mum, something that many fellow mums will be able to relate to.
When an opportunity to revive her work as a lawyer presents itself, Myriam jumps at the chance, and looks to hire a nanny.
What she gets is Louise. Who appears to be Mary Poppins come true. Not only does she care for the children, but she cooks incredible dinners for the family and their friends and cleans the house.
Soon she is indispensable to the family, who depend on her so much that even the growing tensions between Louise and Myriam and her husband Paul cannot stop the family from hurtling towards their grim fate.
Louise’s behaviour spins wildly out of control. In one of the most disturbing encounters, she retrieves a chicken carcass from the bin and encourages the children to pick the tough meat from its bones. She plays hide and seek with the two youngsters, but refuses to reveal herself to them even when they cry and beg for her to come out.
We learn more about Louise’s background which goes some way to explain why she decides to kill the children. The domestic abuse, money troubles and her own fragile relationship with her daughter. She has never belonged anywhere, but with Miriam and Paul she finds a home, one that she is desperate not to lose.
The book explores the dilemma and guilt that so many mothers face. I find it sad that for this particular working mother, her choice to place trust in a nanny resulted in such horrific punishment.
It is the ultimate dilemma faced by so many mothers. Do we trust a stranger enough to take care of our most precious children? Can we ever really get to know the care-givers of our children enough to truly trust them?
It’s for this reason, the niggling doubt that sits in the back of the mind of any mother as she leaves her children with someone while she heads to the office, that this ranks as one of my scariest thrillers of all time. Because it plays on a fear that is so very, very real in our minds. It’s already there, the seed is sown, and this book nurtures that fear, as all good horror stories do.
This novel will haunt you long after you put it down.