This is not a proper "review" of the book The Little Friend, but I do want to register with all possible emphasis and enthusiasm what is clearly a minority view of it: This is Donna Tartt's best novel.
Hear me out, please. Yes, I've read all three of her books, and I've enjoyed all of them quite a lot. But it is only in The Little Friend that we truly get to see Tartt's virtuoso treatment of female characters. Both The Secret History and The Goldfinch involve — indeed, are told through the eyes of — male protagonists. In contrast, The Little Friend is told in the third person, and has a wonderfully kaleidoscopic all-female family consisting of the inimitable twelve-year-old protagonist Harriet, her sister, her mother, her grandmother, and her three aunts. To be sure, there is also the predominantly-male Ratliff family, and there is also Harriet's comrade-in-arms Hely Hull and his older brother Pem, and they are all marvelous characters too. But it is the women who sing in this novel, in a way that by comparison they barely whisper in Tartt's other two novels. And I have to wonder, given how sublime the portrayal of all the females in this book, why Tartt has done, relatively speaking, so little with female characters in her other work.
A final brief point, not often enough made, and one for which I will brook no opposition: This is by far Donna Tartt's funniest book. Even though the story as a whole is dark and proceeds in a necessarily languid fashion (many readers misunderstand this too), The Little Friend has more laugh-out-loud moments than Secret History and Goldfinch combined.
More, hopefully, at a later date.