Title: Suffer the Children
Author: Craig DiLouie
Release date: May 20, 2014
Wow. Just wow. What did I just read. Seriously.
In July of last year, I came across a complete paperback set of The Dark Tower series on Facebook Marketplace. I immediately went to pick it up and while chatting with the man (aka capitalbookreview on Instagram) we shared some books we’d read that were page turners. He asked if I’d read ‘Suffer the Children’ by DiLouie and I was pretty sure I had. Turns out – I hadn’t. Turns out – I didn’t even own it. So, I snagged the Kindle version. I was going to dive into it asap, but lo and behold, I was approved for DiLouie’s ‘The Children of Red Peak.’ I read that and reviewed it in November of 2020 and you know what – as I said then, I repeat now – I loved that book and hated that book. It gave me such a visceral response to it that I wanted to both throw my Kindle across the room (I WOULD NEVER DO THAT! MY PRECIOUSSSS) and drive to DiLouie and shake his hand.
As things go, my TBR is packed, so it took me a bit to get to ‘Suffer the Children.’ When the book came up as the next to read on my list, I didn’t even hesitate. At worst, DiLouie would do it again, craft a story that had me engaged yet furious with reading it, at best – it would be a stunning read. As luck would have it, this one delivered in spades. I didn’t even read the synopsis, I couldn’t recall what it was even about, all I knew was that capitalbookreview had raved about it and at one point the synopsis had left me stunned.
What I liked: DiLouie. What a jerk. You know why? If I would’ve re-read the synopsis, the air from the room wouldn’t have been sucked from it when the hammer drops.
The story opens up simply enough. Regular folks doing regular things. Living life and going about their routines. Then all of the children in the world suddenly die. In the case of one of our main couples, Doug and Joan, Joan has managed to find a time to go see a movie with her friend. Doug takes the two kids to a birthday skating party. While the kids skate around, something starts to happen. The kids drop one by one. And so it begins.
The entire opening of this book was horrific. I was reading it with tears in my eyes and my mouth open. The world came to a stand still. Now, what? What was next? As the world began to comprehend the new reality, DiLouie decides to take it one step further. As the characters begin to say their goodbyes and bury them in mass graves, the kids all come back. Returned to “life.” Herod. A strange, mysterious disease that brings them all back, but only for brief periods of time. I really enjoyed the layered science that Craig uses within, explaining how this disease has infected the kids.
By the time the parents all realize the ‘how’ of getting more time with their kids, changes have begun.
I’ve said it before, I’ve kind of lost all interest in the vampire trope. I’ve never found them scary or all that interesting, but DiLouie does something unique here and reinvents it. Interesting to read this during a Global Pandemic, though. The riffs on society and how people change and became so selfish, so fast really resonate, even though this book came out seven years ago.
While, this book is a ‘vampire’ story, that’s such a minor part of it. You won’t find kids growing fangs or the sun coming up and garlic everywhere. Instead, what you’ll find are doctors struggling to make sense of what’s happened, parents deciding to do whatever it takes to get one more pint of ‘medicine’ and kids losing themselves and transforming. Just a harrowing descent from everyday life to the acceptance that mankind is running out of time.
What I didn’t like: Two things. The first is a specific character. Ramona. She really ground my gears from her introduction until the very end. She was done really well, but if I met her in real life I’d make sure to never talk to her ever again. The second was just how accurate some of the book was. I know that sounds odd, and I loved this book, but the similarities to the world right now and a few things made me angry, remembering how things were with toilet paper shortages and people becoming more selfish and more entitles.
Why you should read this: I’m always a fan of a book when it completely reinvents a popular/common theme and DiLouie’s take on the vampire lore was fantastic. It made me remember how much I loved the show ‘The Strain’ with dealing with real people and real decisions. This wasn’t a secret society battling blood suckers who are super powerful. These were parents struggling with the sudden deaths of their kids and trying to figure out how to keep bringing them back. Very emotional, heart wrenching story and I can see why this was nominated for a Stoker.
Outstanding book and one I’ll not soon forget.