Saturday, May 22, 2010

Book Review: Suffer the Children by Sara-Jayne Townsend




Orphaned at eighteen, Leanne's life is adrift in a sea of grief and drug use. She washes up on the shore of estranged relatives, the Carver family, struggling with loss of their own. The transition from her South London council estate to her new home in the Surrey middle-class suburbs is difficult for Leanne.

But beneath the respectable veneer of the quiet neighborhood, something terrifying lurks. Displaced and troubled teenagers are disappearing. Leanne recruits her cousin Simon and his girlfriend Carrie to help get to the bottom of the sinister mystery. Can the three of them stop a creature of unimaginable evil before Leanne becomes a target?

First of all, I have to give serious points to the cover. While I’m usually not too judgemental of covers either way, this one screams to me that it’s a horror novel.

The first half of Suffer the Children is mostly dedicated to establishing the characters. Leanne is a smart, tough girl who is surrounded by bad influences from both friends and family alike. Were it not for a twist of fate, she probably would have ended up dead or with a pretty bad future. Her cousin Simon is a fairly average guy, too nervous to ask Carrie out on a date and coping with the disappearance of his sister, Emma. The sudden arrival of Leanne is also an unwelcome transition in his life.

It’s really towards the second half of the book that we get into the mystery of the disappearing kids. The trio-Simon, Leanne, and Carrie, eventually discover who this is, and without giving too much away, also discover that simply calling the police will not work. I really enjoyed a scene when the trio share a coffee with the murderer, and it’s more than a little obvious that something is not quite right with this person.

Overall, Suffer the Children is a great book to read. The descriptive language is well-done and my favourite scene is when the trio break into an abandoned house, a moment which is both creepy and suspenseful. I would have admittedly liked to have read more of a transition of Leanne’s character from being the unlikeable teenager to someone accepted by Simon and Carrie, which feels a little sudden at times. Overall, however, this is a solid and spooky plot written by Sara-Jayne Townsend.

FINAL GRADE: 4 stars out of 5. 

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