Horror novels don’t have to be filled with gore and horrific accounts of psychical suffering to be memorable. In fact, some of the most memorable horror from some of the masters (Stephen King, Richard Matheson) delves less into the blood and gore side of things and instead the emotional and psychological impact of ordinary people trying to contend with extraordinary circumstances.
Craig DiLouie’s Suffer the Children follows in the footsteps of some of the best by King and Matheson with a haunting story of what would happen if every child on the planet were to suddenly succumb to a virus. In this case, it’s the Herod virus that wipes out the entire population of children, including the unborn. Humanity faces extinction and the overwhelming issue of how to bury the children and try to come to grips that our species is coming to an end.
Until three days later when the children suddenly come back to life, but with a deadly twist. They have a need in order to sustain their resurrection and it appears their hunger has no end.
DiLouie’s novel chillingly details the steps parents and families endure in the loss and sudden return of their children. It also begins to show us what a world would be like in which the justification of “it’s being done for the children” is taken to a horrifying new extreme. (To say too much else would be to reveal too much about the twist and possibly ruin some of the enjoyment of reading it for others. I will warn you to stay away from too much of the books marketing materials and some reviews as they give away too much).
Filled with ordinary people coming to grips with extraordinary circumstances, Suffer the Children works well on just about every level. It’s one of the most gruesome novels I’ve read in a long time — and not because of any level of gore or mayhem. It’s because of the truly bleak situation facing the novels characters and humanity.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.