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Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth

Thriller

Darling Girls

Repeat author

Sally Hepworth is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include The Soulmate.

Early Release

This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait to read it.

by Sally Hepworth

Excellent choice

Excellent choice

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Quick take

When a body turns up under their former foster home, three sisters must confront their past to keep their names clear.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Psychological

    Psychological

  • Illustrated icon, Multiple_Viewpoints

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, LGBTQ_themes

    LGBTQ+ themes

  • Illustrated icon, Nonlinear_Timeline

    Nonlinear timeline

Synopsis

For as long as they can remember, Jessica, Norah, and Alicia have been told how lucky they are. As young girls they were rescued from family tragedies and raised by a loving foster mother, Miss Fairchild, on an idyllic farming estate and given an elusive second chance at a happy family life.

But their childhood wasn’t the fairy tale everyone thinks it was. Miss Fairchild had rules. Miss Fairchild could be unpredictable. And Miss Fairchild was never, ever to be crossed. In a moment of desperation, the three broke away from Miss Fairchild and thought they were free. Even though they never saw her again, she was always somewhere in the shadows of their minds. When a body is discovered under the home they grew up in, the foster sisters find themselves thrust into the spotlight as key witnesses. Or are they prime suspects?

Content warning

This book contains scenes that depict child abuse.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Darling Girls.

Darling Girls

THE OFFICE OF DR. WARREN, PSYCHIATRIST

Dr. Warren sits in a gray folding chair, one ankle resting on the opposite knee. His suit is brown; his tie, red. His thin-rimmed glasses lie against his chest, on a chain. When I knock on the open door, he points to the vacant chair facing him, his gaze fixed on an old-school manila folder in his lap. His bald, liver-spotted head is as waxed and shiny as a freshly buffed sports car.

“Hello,” I say.

No response. After a brief hesitation, I squeak across the floors in my sneakers and sit.

Dr. Warren remains bent over his file.

The room is bare apart from the chairs, a potted plant, and a battered wooden coffee table. While I wait for him to acknowledge me, I observe a couple of sparrows pecking at the peeling paint on the windowsill outside.

“Excuse me,” I say, after several minutes, when Dr. Warren still hasn’t greeted me. The clock on the wall says five past the hour.

He looks up, faintly irritated. “Yes?”

“Are we . . .” I feel silly. “. . . going to start?”

He looks at the clock, then back at his paperwork. “Whenever you like.”

I haven’t seen a therapist before, but this feels a little unorthodox. Perhaps he is one of those therapists who uses unconventional means to bring about a particular result—like failing to provide a chair because he believes people get to the heart of things faster when they are uncomfortable?

That, or Dr. Warren is an asshole.

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Why I love it

Sally Hepworth has become a standout writer in her genre. Her pacing is fantastic and she always keeps the twists coming, but what makes her stories stand out for me is that she never shies away from examining tough topics. As a result, the stakes always feel high, and the characters are compelling and complex. Darling Girls is no exception.

Jessica, Norah, and Alicia met when they were all put under the care of their foster mother, Miss Fairchild. While their situation seemed perfect on the outside, things were not as idyllic as they appeared. Miss Fairchild was a cruel and unpredictable caregiver. All three girls left her care as soon as they had the chance. Though they never saw Miss Fairchild again, their foster mother was always lingering in the back of their minds. When a dead body is discovered under the house where they grew up, they are forced to revisit their past and become key witnesses in the investigation…except not everyone believes their innocence.

While Darling Girls has all the twists and turns you might expect, it is also a poignant story of three young women trying to survive the traumas of their pasts. If you’re a fan of Sally Hepworth, you won’t be disappointed. If this is your first time reading her work, you’re in for a treat.

Member ratings (12,659)

  • Jessica R.

    Fuquay Varina, NC

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Wow!!!! I read this book so quickly. If you like a psychological mystery with twists and turns this book is definitely for you. I will be looking into reading more of this author’s books.

  • Rebecca L.

    Chicago, IL

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫Darling Girls will leave you frantically turning pages, as Hepworth seamlessly creates a chilling, tense atmosphere through flawed and complex characters. A slow burn with a shocking ending!

  • Tara D.

    Lubbock, TX

    5 stars for Sally Hepworth! I haven’t found a book by her that I haven’t absolutely loved. Foster sisters who get away from their “master” and are free but not really. Now they’re a suspect in murder

  • Rebecca J.

    Salem, OR

    “Love” feels a little high, but “like” felt too low. The story was gripping, but dual timeline isn’t my favorite. I was more interested in the present day mystery than the flashbacks. Good overall.

  • Lisa W.

    Sandy, OR

    Huge fan of Sally Hepworth so when her newest book, Darling Girls was a book of the month selection, I had to choose it and I’m glad I did. This book had me hooked from page 1. Three “sisters” grown w

Thriller
First Lie Wins
No One Can Know
Middle of the Night
Listen for the Lie
A Talent for Murder
One Perfect Couple
Darling Girls
Kill for Me, Kill for You
Murder Road
Daughter of Mine
The Fury
Only if You’re Lucky
The Other Mothers
The Resort
When I’m Dead
The Soulmate
What Lies in the Woods
She Started It
The Only One Left
Dark Corners
Blacktop Wasteland
All the Dangerous Things
The Only Survivors
The Broken Girls
The Family Game
The Push
We Were Never Here
Things We Do in the Dark
The Golden Couple
The Collective
The Stranger Upstairs
Gone Tonight
Too Good to Be True
The Last Word
You Are Not Alone
Rock Paper Scissors
Not a Happy Family
A Flicker in the Dark
The Last Flight
Reckless Girls
The House Across the Lake
The Wife Upstairs
The Last Thing He Told Me
The Maidens
Everything We Didn't Say
Invisible Girl
The Paris Apartment
You're Invited
The Last Party
Dark Places
Pieces of Her
The Wife Between Us
Sharp Objects
None of This Is True
The Silent Patient
The Winter Sister
The Other Woman
Necessary People
The Family Upstairs
The Night Swim
Girl A
The Hunting Wives
Just Another Missing Person
First Born
The Lies I Tell
Breathless
Thriller
View all
First Lie Wins
No One Can Know
Middle of the Night
Listen for the Lie
A Talent for Murder
One Perfect Couple
Darling Girls
Kill for Me, Kill for You
Murder Road
Daughter of Mine
The Fury
Only if You’re Lucky
The Other Mothers
The Resort
When I’m Dead
The Soulmate
What Lies in the Woods
She Started It
The Only One Left
Dark Corners
Blacktop Wasteland
All the Dangerous Things
The Only Survivors
The Broken Girls
The Family Game
The Push
We Were Never Here
Things We Do in the Dark
The Golden Couple
The Collective
The Stranger Upstairs
Gone Tonight
Too Good to Be True
The Last Word
You Are Not Alone
Rock Paper Scissors
Not a Happy Family
A Flicker in the Dark
The Last Flight
Reckless Girls
The House Across the Lake
The Wife Upstairs
The Last Thing He Told Me
The Maidens
Everything We Didn't Say
Invisible Girl
The Paris Apartment
You're Invited
The Last Party
Dark Places
Pieces of Her
The Wife Between Us
Sharp Objects
None of This Is True
The Silent Patient
The Winter Sister
The Other Woman
Necessary People
The Family Upstairs
The Night Swim
Girl A
The Hunting Wives
Just Another Missing Person
First Born
The Lies I Tell
Breathless