I’ve read Bentley Little * The Walking and I was enthralled by the prospect of another good horror novel, so I bought loads of Bentley Little novels, thinking I’m going to pick one up as the desire to read something grim and scary appears on my horizon. And it did. Pretty soon, I found myself looking at a cover of a haunted house and an evil-looking child on it. Yes. That would do.
The Japanese knew what they were doing when they started casting children as the object of terror in movies (The Ring, Grudge) and Stephen King did it too (Pet Semetary, The Shining, Children of Corn).
There is something scary about the idea that a pure representation of a child, all innocent, with no knowledge of the world, can be pure evil. Bentley Little went a bit further and created the corrupted idea of Donielle (also known as Dawn) – a girl of ten wearing a dirty shift dress, bare footed and with an innocent face. This girl is the creepy factor in the book as she appears unannounced in doorways, rooms, alleyways, lifting up her skirt and asking people to look at her genitals and perform crude sexual acts with her.
The creepy/murderous child trope goes back to The Bad Seed, from the most kid-centric decade, the 1950s.
Children are “innocents.” So the more they stray from that, the more frightening it is for all of us. For an innocent energy to be “taken over” is the gravest of abominations the world can reap upon us. Adults are expected to be corrupt and evil, in a way. Children are the last hope for good.
Dee Wallace, Actress, The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, Cujo, The Frighteners
Donielle is mean-spirited, cruel and a pure psychopath in the clinical sense. Besides being malevolent, she is dangerous when crossed and she kills a few. The book should have been called “The Girl” or “Dolls”. It was truly scary.