Last year, I read Only Daughter, the debut by Anna Snoekstra, and I absolutely loved it. I loved the narrative style, the dark tone and the creepy ending. It was a book that I continuously recommended. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to read Snoekstra’s follow up with her sophomore novel, Little Secrets.
This novel was completely different from Snoekstra’s previous novel and, to be completely honest, it was not what I was expecting at all.
The novel opens in the wake of a tragedy. An arsonist had burnt down the town’s courthouse, killing a young boy who was trapped inside. Living in the same town is Rose, an aspiring journalist who longs for a big break, and her sisters. When porcelain dolls begin showing up on the doorstep of town members, mirroring looks of the young girls, the town beings to buzz with paranoid and Rose seems to have found her big break. As she begins to write her story, paranoia builds and, soon, her articles have a life of their own. How are all of these scenarios related? Can a small town survive when neighbour is turning against neighbour?
The first thing I feel the need to note is that I enjoyed the general premise. Although not what I was expecting, I felt like the general premise of the news perpetuating paranoia and turning people against each other was really prevalent. Snoekstra excels at creating an atmosphere within her writing and she perfectly captured the vibe of the decaying town and the desperation of its residents.
However, I do feel like the execution was a problem for me. For one, I found it to be very slow moving. The pacing seemed glacial at some portions in the text. I also didn’t find this one to be very thrilling or mysterious at all. I felt like it was more small-town fiction. I didn’t really find myself on edge or overly concerned with any of the characters. I felt like Rose and Mia (two of the main characters) were very interesting and complex but I didn’t find myself too worried about them or their well being.
All that being said, I do feel like this novel was well written and Snoekstra clearly is able to weave a story. Perhaps if someone went into this novel with a more realistic expectation of what the novel entailed, they would enjoy it more.