Wow, look at all of those creepy kids on the cover of this book!
They really do look like an insufferable pack of brats, don’t they? If nothing else, this cover confirms that children can be creepy, especially when they all go to the same private school and they all have the same grim expression on their face.
First published in 1982, The Children opens with a series of mysterious deaths. The richest man in the world dies on an airplane. His lawyer is killed on another airplane. A network anchorman and his one night stand are gunned down in his apartment, by an 11 year-old. A private investigator is pushed off of a subway platform while a bunch of children watch. There’s something weird about those kids.
The covers describes The Children as being “a novel of terror” but, unfortunately, after a strong opening, it gets bogged down with two characters — glamorous anchorwoman Shelley James and hard-boiled columnist Mark Chandler — investigating the murders and rather inevitably falling in love. I think a part of the problem is that we know that the children are evil before Shelley and Chandler and it takes the two of them so long to figure out what we already know that it’s difficult not to get annoyed with them. In fact, after the initial murders, it’s another 200 pages or so before the book actually returns to the involvement of the children and, even then, the payoff is nowhere as exciting as you may have hoped.
Like 666 and The Rapture, The Children is another book that I ended up reading because I came across it in Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell. While I can’t really recommend The Children to anyone else, I will definitely recommend that, if you haven’t already read Paperback from Hell, that you order a copy today!