Review: Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah



William Morrow | 2020

Filed Under: Off the rails but still moving.

Okay, listen, this book is weird AF. You’re either going to fall down the rabbit hole and have a great time with how nuts it gets, or you’re going to DNF that shit because you can’t take how unrealistic it is. It just depends on the kind of reader you tend to be or the state of mind you’re in when you read it.

For me, I am usually looking for something that’s so nuts and have never read before (fuck cliches!), and that’s exactly what I got, so I don’t mind too much that it was also off it’s goddamn rocker when it came to the plot.

This is my first novel by Sophie Hannah, but if this is any indication of the kind of crazy shit she can come up with, it won’t be my last.

You Crazy GIF by memecandy

Beth and Dom used to be friends with Flora and Lewis until they moved away after mysterious happenings drove the friendship to ruins.

Twelve years later, Beth is on her way to her son’s football game when she sees Flora entering her old house in the neighbourhood. And she’s calling for her children, Thomas and Emily, to come along. Beth, shocked to see her former friend, decides to be a creeper and watch Flora and the kids. This is the first in a long line of moments where Beth is totally unabashed about being a creeper.

interested kim kardashian GIF

The kids, who should now be the same age as Beth’s own teenagers, appear with their mother but are still the 3 and 5-year-olds that Beth knew over a decade ago. How can it be that they haven’t aged at all?

Beth becomes fucking OBSESSED – all caps warranted – with finding out what the actual F is going on with those weird-ass kids. The whole book is basically just her being the most annoying amateur sleuth (read: nosy neighbour) that you’ve ever met. But the plot itself is so utterly wild that you can overlook the fact that you want to punch Beth in the throat.

Her daughter Zan, on the other hand, was a gem of a character and I would have loved more scenes featuring her. She reminded me of myself when I was a teenager, which was not that long ago, shut up!!

Beth’s marriage to Dom really grounded the novel in parts, and I thought it was a smart use of a relationship to bring the novel back to reality as Beth floated off into space with her obsession. Dom was logical and chill, keeping Beth from going totally nuts with her theories and impulsive plans. And he stayed kind and loving to her as she persisted in finding out the truth, even though it was totally disrupting their family and lives.

She’d be like “WHAT IF IT’S ALIENS?!” And he’d be like, “Unlikely, but let’s talk about it.

It was fucking sweet. So, without being a romance at all, it still kind of was. Or I’m just totally sentimental (not likely.)

I kind of read this book on a whim because I needed an audiobook to distract me at work and this one had no holds, which is usually a miracle. Rarely do I pick something up just because and end up liking it because I’m a very bitchy picky reader, but in this case it was so unexpectedly coo-coo for Cocopuffs, that it shocked me enough to capture my thriller-loving heart.

snl crazy recognizes crazy GIF by Saturday Night Live

At some point I was thinking, is this going to be science fiction? Paranormal? I was so confused about what was going on that I couldn’t guess at where the plot was going, which is unusual for me, let’s be real. But it’s none of those things! It’s just a thriller. And as the truths were revealed I started to catch on to what Sophie Hannah was weaving. Hannah is a tricky little writer, for real.

Perfect Little Children felt original and clever, and despite a super annoying MC, it was a fun read that kept me asking WHAT THE FUCK? The ending was satisfying too. Nothing like ending with a little (or a lot) of blood.

If you can suspend disbelief for a few large plot points and just roll with the weirdness, this is a twisted read for a thriller reader who isn’t totally jaded by now.


All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows her ex-best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora for twelve years. She doesn’t want to see her today, or ever again.

But she can’t resist. She parks outside the open gates of Newnham House, watches from across the road as Flora and her children Thomas and Emily step out of the car. Except… There’s something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older. As Beth would have expected. It’s the children. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then.

They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Hilary hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.

They are no taller, no older… Why haven’t they grown?

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