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Suffer the Children Paperback – May 20, 2014
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About the Author
Craig DiLouie is an acclaimed American-Canadian author of dark fantasy, sci-fi, historical thriller, and apocalyptic horror fiction. Learn more at CraigDiLouie.com.
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The synopsis is terrifying: Children everywhere, millions and eventually billions of them, succumb to death within a single hour called Herod's Event. The grief is terrible, but the natural order of things is still being observed- until they wake up again, their little rotting selves trotting in the direction of home and their fearful but delighted parents. This in of itself is something too nasty to imagine. I became strangely attached to the kids in this novel- as they were before they died and even after. The parents soon discover that the "Resurrection," as it was called, is temporary, and their children return to sitting wax dolls, only their eyes making frozen movements as the Herod's parasite in them demands BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD.
Think of every time a little kid has whined to you about being hungry. Always at the most inconvenient times, always for the crappiest junk foods their sugar hyped systems can tolerate. It's frustrating, predictable, neverending. Now imagine it's not your kid speaking, but just their mouth moving, erratic shrieks in the middle of the night for BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD, or looming over as you wake up with a start, dead eyes staring and lips mumbling "blood-bluh-bluhd-bluhd-bluhd-bluhd..."
Just give them what they ask for, and your dazzling son or daughter will be back. Warm and alive and laughing just like they used to be, for an hour or two. Only an hour or two.
Honestly, that's the parents in Suffer the Children faced, and their behavior as well as MY REACTION to it was bizarre beyond belief. I think I learned a little about myself here. I don't have a child, and the logic of such a situation....well, part of me was screaming "KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!" but I was astonished at the larger part of me that sympathized so strongly with the parents doing anything, ANYTHING to bring their children back, no matter what the cost. Yes, of course! Bring them back. Is there anything you want more? Is there anything at all? FEED ON MY NEIGHBOR'S BLOOD! AS LONG AS YOU COME BACK TO ME!!
Watching these parents evolved from normal people to anemic, withered creatures hanging on to the edge of sanity while their children only get stronger was bizarre. Suffer the Children manages to combine science, tension, that creepy-crawly feeling and pure heartache in a way that's nothing short of stellar. The parents' interactions and dialogue are so organic and real, by the time they respectively reach the end of their ropes, you're silently pleading with them not to do this. Not to do what they're being driven to do.
I'm not a horror fan. The Walking Dead isn't horror- it's a soap opera, and I only every read this because the only other horror I've read (Bird Box, and it is just amazing) turned out to be so much more tightly written and oddly, making so much more sense than the copycat YA dystopias loaded with teen angst and injustice- I thought Suffer the Children would be similar, and I was right.
Read this book.And take your kids out to the park after.
This book is hands down one of the darkest, most dismal and depression books I've read in ages. The consistent hopelessness and despair itself is an accomplishment, but author DiLouie creates such an original story of horror and beautifully crafted world building, that this book quickly became one of the best reads of the year and jumped into my top 25 of all time horror novels.
There was maybe two times that scenes did not quite feel authentic, but other than those quick and minor gripes, this is about as good as it gets. People seem to look down on the horror genre, but I would put this book up again any artsy-fartsy dramatic fiction any day of the week. The characters are deep and flawed and you feel as if you have known them or people like them your whole life. The action is spot on and descriptions are just enough for the reader to visualize exactly what the author is intending. I did not feel as if anything was gratuitous. Every violent act or graphic description fit the scene in a perfectly rendered organic way. DiLouie has quickly rocketed into my must-read author's list and this book gets my highest recommendation. A powerful, brutal, and unforgiving journey. It is simply breathtaking.