Helena Echlin

Pub: January 14, 2025

Pamela Dorman Books


A taut, powerful mom-noir psychological thriller following a mother who must confront a sudden and terrifying change in her daughter after the abrupt death of their babysitter.

Charlotte’s daughter Stella is sensitive and brilliant, perhaps even a genius, but a recent change in her behavior has alarmed her parents. Following the sudden death of Stella’s babysitter, Blanka, the once disruptive and anti-social child has become docile and agreeable. But what’s unsettling is that she has begun to mirror Blanka’s personality, from Blanka’s repetitive phrases to her accent, to fierce cravings for Armenian meat stew after being raised a vegetarian.

Charlotte is pregnant with her second child, and depleted and sick with the pregnancy. She is convinced that Blanka herself is somehow responsible for Stella’s transformation. But how could Blanka, dead, still be entwined in their lives? Has Blanka somehow possessed Stella? Has Stella become Blanka? As Charlotte becomes increasingly obsessed, she is sure that only she can save her daughter… even though it’s soon clear that her husband believes this is all in Charlotte’s head.

Helena Echlin’s singular, chilling voice holds light to the blurred lines of diagnosis in children and to the vital power of maternal instinct. Kaleidoscopic and tense, pulse-pounding and genuinely creepy, and infused with shades of the supernatural, Clever Little Thing is an ode to motherhood and a nuanced critique of the caretaking industry, a page-turner that will haunt readers long after its epic, surprising finale.