Book Review: Suffer the Children by Janden Hale

“The first part of the reveal proves to be quite intelligently thought out and executed, generating genuine surprise in the reader … It is in the writing, though, that the reader is let down”

Suffer the Children begins with a high-octane scene, as a young, inexperienced man does his best to stave off the attack of a ‘twitcher’, while protecting a woman who has been out on patrol with him. Twitchers are what’s left of children, infected with a bio-warfare-virus-gone-wrong, which turns them into furry, snarling carnivores with super human strength and speed. The scene culminates unexpectedly with the boy suffering a serious injury and the book then unfolds around the need for the people of the village stronghold to find a way to get medicine to help him. The cast of characters includes a former town politician, his overbearing, calculating wife and a mysterious special forces operative who may not be exactly as he seems.

As a premise, while not breaking new ground for the genre, Suffer the Children has more than enough to hold one’s attention. It is in the writing, though, that the reader is let down. Characters are wooden, and inconsistent. The injured boy begins in a state of relative indifference to the woman he is accompanying, then later feels a near-obsessive love for her, without any real explanation as to why. The character of Jane Landry is similarly a caricature of a villain, leaving no need for the reader to interpret or decipher her motivations. The special forces operative begins as someone we suppose is mysterious because he is hiding some truth which may end up vital to the story, but nothing of the sort is revealed, so he ends up devoid of personality.

In addition, literary devices to advance the plot and metaphorical language is at times close to painful to read, such as “the moment came knocking too soon, like an unwelcome solicitor” in chapter five or “He starts to shuffle back and forth to generate heat—the way you do when you have to pee really bad” in chapter eleven.

The real highlight of the novel is that there is a mystery to be uncovered, which may hold the reader’s attention. Indeed, the first part of the reveal proves to be quite intelligently thought out and executed, generating genuine surprise in the reader. Unfortunately, after establishing the truth behind the mystery, the novel simply stops, abruptly, leaving the reader broadly unsatisfied.


Publisher: Janden Hale
Paperback (152pp)
Release Date: December 2016

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