Now on to the actual review and what a bumpy ride it was!
If you want to take it down to bare bones “Suffer the Children” is a vampire/zombie book but it’s so much more than that. The premise is that after being introduced to several different characters (a couple with two children, a single mother who sometimes resents her son, and a pediatrician with a rough family life) an event happen. That event becomes known as Herod’s Syndrome and results in the death of every child (I believe the designation was that they hadn’t hit puberty yet), even those who are in utero. But then the kids come back and not only do they just wake up but they rise out of their graves in order to do it.
(Side note: the only plot point that really bothered me. Herod’s Syndrome isn’t really explained enough. Yes it only effects the children and it’s said to be something in their DNA or something that got triggered but what exactly was the trigger? It just happens in one place and within a day it’s spread across the rest of the globe. There was nothing that supposedly set it off or anything).
Creepy, huh? But that’s just the beginning because what happens next, or I suppose it just gets more heightened, is the psychological drama. And now I’m going to get a little spoilery. Or maybe a lot spoilery.
Even though I’m not a parent this story bothered me (and it definitely makes me wonder how I’d see this story if I did have children of my own), only in a good way because it made me think and wonder and kind of freak out along with all the characters in the story. Because this is what happens: kids die and the parents mourn, a few days later the kids crawl out of their graves and return home, they spend a few days or hours or something all happy and then the kids suddenly die again. Then, in the middle of the night, they let their parents know exactly what they want with shrieks and moans asking for blood.
Sounds a little cheesy but in the heat of the story it’s actually kind of terrifying, especially once the parents realize that they don’t produce enough blood to keep their children alive for long. That means they have to try different methods because for each time their children die they decompose more and more so they can’t exactly just wait until their own blood supplies replenish. Some parents just try and get as many friends and family members to help out as they can. Others turn to more nefarious methods including murder and prostitution.
And that’s when the division between different types of parents becomes even more obvious because with each time they arise they become more animalistic, more like the traditional stereotypical “vampire”, i.e. increased strength, single-minded want for blood. Some parents want to just let their children go while others decide they’d rather die themselves than do that.
Then the ending that I loved and hated at the same time. I was half afraid it would all be wrapped up in a neat little bow with the fake blood serum being made and distributed and the majority of the characters making it out alive but it did not, boy did it not! There was death and murder and an epilogue where creepy vampire children are roaming the streets and methodically killing everyone with a heartbeat. And while it was a great ending I was also really curious to know more. Would the children really manage to kill everyone? If not would any more children be able to be born what with the whole fact that the disease killed even unborn ones? I just have so many questions!