Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite
A story that will pull you into the darkness, keep you immersed in it, yet have you enthralled so that you won’t stop reading, Dead Babies by Molly Stroud Smith is a psychological thrill to experience, but not a book for youngsters. The opening paragraph already announces what is in store for the reader,: “She locked the kids in the car again last night. In the dark. She could hear the baby’s screams echoing off the concrete walls of the garage from inside the house. She ran the shower to drown out the sound. Delilah insisted that it was too hot but dared not whine. Doreen snapped at her to shut up as she scrubbed and scrubbed the child’s body.” Enter into the world of a woman suffering from postpartum psychosis.
Doreen Rutherford was raped by a gang when she was just a teenage girl, and the trauma has followed her throughout her life. Things didn’t get better for her with parents who were more religious than the Pope and who treated her as though she were vermin. Over the years, she’d come to believe that the act was some sort of punishment from God, and so conditioned her that she lived her life trying to atone for a crime she never committed. Things could have been different for her if she had never married a man who wanted many babies. But now, having many babies is taking a toll on her and she takes it out on the children. Read on to discover her psychological sufferings, the journey through professional help, and the voice that keeps on speaking in her head, asking her to do the impossible. Could this be the voice of God or is she losing her sanity altogether? Could she gain redemption by following the voice and doing the abominable thing it asks her to do?
Molly Stroud Smith is a skilled writer with a particular gift for characters that are memorable, psychologically explored, and emotionally rich. The reader is absorbed into the story from the very first pages and there is no moment they’ll feel like stopping. Doreen’s world is dark and attractive at the same time. As the reader explores her story, they have a kind of connection with her, reading with bated breath and hoping against all hope that she will come to terms with herself. The writing is crisp, at times raw, and it creates powerful images that will stay with the reader. This is a masterpiece for fans of psychological thrillers, a book that explains why a woman behaves the way she does. Can she ever understand why? It’s for the reader to find out!