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Suffer the Children

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Alternate cover edition for this ISBN can be found here. One hundred years ago in Port Arbello a pretty little girl began to scream. And struggle. And die. No one heard. No one saw. Just one man whose guilty heart burst in pain as he dashed himself to death in the sea. Now something peculiar is happening in Port Arbello. The children are disappearing, one by one. An evil hi Alternate cover edition for this ISBN can be found here. One hundred years ago in Port Arbello a pretty little girl began to scream. And struggle. And die. No one heard. No one saw. Just one man whose guilty heart burst in pain as he dashed himself to death in the sea. Now something peculiar is happening in Port Arbello. The children are disappearing, one by one. An evil history is repeating itself. And one strange, terrified child has ended her silence with a scream that began a hundred years ago.


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Alternate cover edition for this ISBN can be found here. One hundred years ago in Port Arbello a pretty little girl began to scream. And struggle. And die. No one heard. No one saw. Just one man whose guilty heart burst in pain as he dashed himself to death in the sea. Now something peculiar is happening in Port Arbello. The children are disappearing, one by one. An evil hi Alternate cover edition for this ISBN can be found here. One hundred years ago in Port Arbello a pretty little girl began to scream. And struggle. And die. No one heard. No one saw. Just one man whose guilty heart burst in pain as he dashed himself to death in the sea. Now something peculiar is happening in Port Arbello. The children are disappearing, one by one. An evil history is repeating itself. And one strange, terrified child has ended her silence with a scream that began a hundred years ago.

30 review for Suffer the Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Story about a prominent family (the Congers) who live in a New England coastal town (Port Arbello). Eleven-year-old Sarah Conger is mute from a trauma which happened to her a year ago. Her thirteen-year-old sister (Elizabeth) seems like the perfect daughter, or is she? Sarah and Elizabeth’s parents are having marital problems. There is also a family curse on the Congers. Now, children in the community are going missing. And what about the legend of the secret cave? This story was creepy and distu Story about a prominent family (the Congers) who live in a New England coastal town (Port Arbello). Eleven-year-old Sarah Conger is mute from a trauma which happened to her a year ago. Her thirteen-year-old sister (Elizabeth) seems like the perfect daughter, or is she? Sarah and Elizabeth’s parents are having marital problems. There is also a family curse on the Congers. Now, children in the community are going missing. And what about the legend of the secret cave? This story was creepy and disturbing, with some really unpleasant and gruesome moments. But I found this book very hard to put down, it was so captivating. The story was quite atmospheric, I felt like I was in the coastal town by the sea. But I was disappointed with the ending of this book. I felt bad for Sarah. (view spoiler)[And I didn’t like how crazy Elizabeth seemed to get away with everything and never got caught. (hide spoiler)] An okay read by John Saul.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Walton Grant

    “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud.” Stephen King, Danse Macabre DON'T READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK -- I WILL COMPLETELY WRECK IT FOR YOU WITH SPOILERS. SORRY, I CAN'T HELP MYSELF. I read a couple of John Saul books when I was around 12. I don't remember much about them other than the undertone “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud.” Stephen King, Danse Macabre DON'T READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK -- I WILL COMPLETELY WRECK IT FOR YOU WITH SPOILERS. SORRY, I CAN'T HELP MYSELF. I read a couple of John Saul books when I was around 12. I don't remember much about them other than the undertone of forboding that completely permeated his books, and that I had to stop reading them because of it. The book started off well enough -- pulled me right in and I felt like a 1970s horror movie was unspooling in my head (I was picturing Karen Black and Christopher George as the parents). The story takes place in a small New England town, where no one locks their doors and there hasn't been a murder in almost 100 years. Hardly anyone from the outside ever moves to town. The small population looks after its own. (cue the ominous music...) Our hapless adults are the Congers - the whole damn town was practically named after them, and they are a stereotypical old name no money family. They live in a huge old house on Conger Road, Jack is the editor of the local newspaper and Rose is unhappily (for Jack, anyway) out-earning her husband selling real estate. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure who she was selling to, as hardly anyone new ever moves there. Anyway, Jack and Rose have two children. Elizabeth is 13 and the perfect daughter. She is beautiful, patient, kind, mature, obedient, and spends all of her time taking care of her younger sister Sarah. Sarah was perfectly fine until about a year before our story begins; one day she went for a walk in the woods with her father and has never been the same. He pounded the C-R-A-P out of her, almost killed her, and she hasn't spoken since. She goes to a "special" school and her father, who can't remember the incident at all, spends lots of time in the library of his big old house drinking. Needless to say, Rose and Jack don't rub along very nicely together - he can't get it up and she's pretty cranky about it. They both snipe at each other, drink lots and completely ignore their children. Rose feels inadequate when Elizabeth is around and barely speaks to her except to talk to her about Sarah, she's always worrying about Sarah and Jack - well, who cares what he thinks. Neither parent is sympathetic in the slightest. Then there's the old housekeeper Mrs. Whazhername. I'm not sure why she's in the book. She's supposed to have been around since Jack was a kid, but she doesn't do much but sleep in her chair and complain about the dirty laundry (from the girls running around the countryside in the middle of the night). She offers no insight into the family curse, their history or, well, anything. To top it all off she's a pretty crappy babysitter. By chapter three it wasn't hard to tell who the baddie was going to be, and in case any of us hadn't figured it out yet there was even more heavy-handed foreshadowing, then some genuinely creepy, gut-clenching scary writing. This skipped along ominously for a while and then the bad child finds a skeleton in a cave hidden in the bluffs, then kills her cat, dresses it in a doll's outfit and has a tea party. Shortly after that, the bad child leads a perfectly nice little friend of hers to the cave, makes her join the tea party (and put the cat's head back on after she cuts it off in a fit of rage) and leaves her in the pit in the dark. All of this is witnessed by the other sister, who conveniently can't tell on her because she can't/won't speak. Holy Christ, I thought to myself. I really read this as a kid? Where were my parents? What kind of librarian lets a kid check this book out?? Anyway, back to the fucked up stuff. The bad kid becomes even more unhinged while still fooling her idiot parents back at the house. She takes knives from the kitchen, tricks another child (this one an even younger little boy) into coming with her to the cave, and throws him down into the pit with the first kid. Another disgusting tea party follows. This time she rubs the putrid cat's corpse in the little boy's crotch after she makes him take off his clothes, she bashes at least one of them in the head with a rock and leaves them there again, in the dark. At this point I'm totally squicked out and it has become crystal clear to me why I quit reading John Saul. His books are disturbing and gross - and in a way that is completely unnecessary. I soldier on and slog through the hapless parents meeting with the equally clueless psychiatrist discussing Sarah's increasingly crazy behaviour - her clothes are covered with mud in the morning, she screams for no reason and she's acting weirder than usual. And what about those missing kids, they ask. Perhaps Sarah is behind the disappearances. (Oh for fuck's sakes, you idiots, those are her sister's clothes, not hers, why can't you see she's only upset around HER!?) Then the psychiatrist wants to know about Dad's amnesia surrounding his beating his daughter almost to death. Have you talked to anyone about this? Dad's response is, "No, why should I?" (I know the 70s were kinda loose compared to today's standards, but...) Hmmm, what next. Oh! Creepy older sister talks cute neighbour boy (who is on to how crazy she is but won't live long enough to tell anyone) into trying to find the cave with her. It's a local legend, you see, about a Conger ancestor who killed his cat then jumped off the cliff, and his daughter went missing at the same time. The legend had it that she was in a cave on the bluff but no one had been able to find it. (Heh-heh chuckles the Cryptkeeper, who knew there was a tea party already in progress there!) Of course, they find it, with mute little sister bringing up the rear. Cute neighbour boy gets thrown in the pit and batshit crazy sister has a complete family for her tea party, until she gets angry and stabs the little boy to death, dismembers him completely and bashes the others on the head with rocks. (See what I mean about unnecessary ? That scene was disturbing enough without all the blood and chopping.) I tell you, if the Mad Hatter had been at this tea party he'd have run screaming for the hills. After Sarah trudges out of the woods dragging a severed arm and covered with blood the bad parents have the good child committed, the bad child becomes an only child and everything is right with the world. Life returns to normal. The missing children are forgotten except by the old policeman who still checks the woods for them every year. Now the book skips ahead 15 years. The good committed child is being released from the hospital on a weekend pass for the first time and going to visit her sister. The old policeman stops in at the Conger house to visit Elizabeth and we are treated to a HEE-YOOOGE info dump by both of them, letting us know that over the past 15 years Jack and Rose have died (together in a boating accident, and am I the only one who finds this just a little convenient?), Sarah hasn't been home since the day she brought the arm home, the cute neighbour boy's parents moved away and the other missing kids' parents are virtual pariahs. Elizabeth is selling the woods in order to keep paying for Sarah's care. The old cop is on the verge of retirement, and wants to take one final look for the cave before the woods are razed. Well, we all know what's going to happen now -- the earth collapses on top of the cave, and the workmen and police discover the skeletons of the kids and the cat. Ooops, crazy Sarah is in trouble again, back to the hospital she goes, only after she starts screaming and her eyes roll back in her head and she goes mute. Elizabeth wanders around the house, grabs her old doll and her new kitty cat and walks out the front door. The camera (oops, sorry, I meant the author) pans us back to a diary sitting on a desk - an old diary with entries about "why is my daddy hurting me" and a cryptic quote "Suffer the children to come to me". THE END. What the heck? I finished this book and thought to myself, self, this was stupid. And disturbing, and violent and gross. I used to read a lot of Stephen King as a kid and while his stuff sometimes scared the crap out of me, it never disturbed me on the level that John Saul did. Reading this book brought to mind the quote I posted at the top of this review. John Saul was definitely a write of the "gross-out" variety. Something about Saul's theme's bother me - probably the use of children (which bothered me even when I was little more than a child myself) would be the big thing, and IIRC they figure prominently in quite a few of his books. The disturbing gross out factor is another. Or maybe I'm just getting old. The same way the Tilt-a-Whirl makes me upchuck when I used to be able to ride that thing all day, perhaps I just don't have the stomach for this type of horror anymore. 3 stars - before it got gross and disturbing, it was actually pretty good.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica ❥Chatterbooks Book Blog❥

    This book was weird af, so I liked that aspect. Lol I don't think there was enough explanation in the end. I may come back and write a complete review of this one later.

  4. 5 out of 5

    James Trevino

    Here, let me amaze you with a billion years old mystery about a house on a hill. Look, a little girl was killed. Look, there is a tea party that is actually a horror show. Look, there’s another sweet little girl that is totally innocent. She definitely isn’t the bad guy because she looks sweet. No, definitely not the bad guy! I love John Saul, but you can definitely see how this is his first novel. It hits every cliché in the book. Every single cliché. It’s like he was afraid he would miss one :)) Here, let me amaze you with a billion years old mystery about a house on a hill. Look, a little girl was killed. Look, there is a tea party that is actually a horror show. Look, there’s another sweet little girl that is totally innocent. She definitely isn’t the bad guy because she looks sweet. No, definitely not the bad guy! I love John Saul, but you can definitely see how this is his first novel. It hits every cliché in the book. Every single cliché. It’s like he was afraid he would miss one :)) Still, a fast read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Luvtoread

    Very dark and sad! Read quite awhile ago.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Regine

    Cat lovers should not read this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eli Easton

    I read this book for my Lifetime Challenge (year 1977). When I was in high school in the late 70's, I read horror novels incessantly. Horror was very big at the time, and I was fully into the craze. If it had a black or metallic shiny cover, I probably read it. Horror books have certainly changed, and I miss the old-school horror of that golden era. So I wanted to add some horror books into my 1970's reading challenge. I might have read this book by John Saul back when it was first published, but I read this book for my Lifetime Challenge (year 1977). When I was in high school in the late 70's, I read horror novels incessantly. Horror was very big at the time, and I was fully into the craze. If it had a black or metallic shiny cover, I probably read it. Horror books have certainly changed, and I miss the old-school horror of that golden era. So I wanted to add some horror books into my 1970's reading challenge. I might have read this book by John Saul back when it was first published, but as I read it just now, I didn't remember anything about it. Which was a good thing in terms of not having the plot spoiled. The story centers around a small town where children begin to disappear. The disappearances seem located near the home of the Congers, the rich family in town, who have a big house and lots of land by the sea. There are woods and an "embankment"--plenty of places for children to go missing. There are some horrible happenings in the Conger family's past and a curse. The current Conger family seems nice enough and has two little girls. But one of the little girls, Sarah, had something terrible happen to her a year ago (involving her father) and no longer speaks. Her older sister, Elizabeth, cares for Sarah with great maturity and patience. Or does she? What happened to Sarah, and how does it relate to the current disappearances of three other children? I read this book straight through in 2 days. It really kept my attention and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen. We're pretty much told early on who the guilty party is. But the thing that kept me reading was wanting to see how and when this person would get caught (please!) and if the missing children would survive. I won't spoil it for you except to say this is a true horror novel, so don't expect a Happily Ever After. What you will get, however, is a considerable amount of gore and horrible happenings involving children. So if that's a trigger for you, beware. Seriously. There's also a strong paranormal element with ghosts and people acting out old curses. I appreciated that there was an actual story here and it wasn't just a grue-fest like Saw. There's stuff involving Sarah's medical care, small town politics, how the parents are coping with Sarah's problems, what's going on with the parents of the missing children, the cop in town, etc. I found it a nice mix of elements. But the horror, when it's there, is definitely very horrific. There are a few scenes that had me grimacing. (In case it's not clear, that's a good thing.) I really enjoyed this trip back to 70's paranormal horror novels and want to read some more. It was refreshing that the story wasn't about zombies, the apocalypse, or a dystopian future! Recommended to anyone who enjoys horror.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Description: One hundred years ago in Port Arbello a pretty little girl began to scream. And struggle. And die. No one heard. No one saw. Just one man whose guilty heart burst in pain as he dashed himself to death in the sea. Now something peculiar is happening in Port Arbello. The children are disappearing, one by one. An evil history is repeating itself. And one strange, terrified child has ended her silence with a scream that began a hundred years ago. This is the one that starts with a littl Description: One hundred years ago in Port Arbello a pretty little girl began to scream. And struggle. And die. No one heard. No one saw. Just one man whose guilty heart burst in pain as he dashed himself to death in the sea. Now something peculiar is happening in Port Arbello. The children are disappearing, one by one. An evil history is repeating itself. And one strange, terrified child has ended her silence with a scream that began a hundred years ago. This is the one that starts with a little girl chasing a bunny in New England in the late 1800s. □ □ □ □ □ □ □ What is it about New England and horror stories? Must be the same way that gothic big house stories work best in a Cornish setting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bren

    I will be honest. This book..is one of the most genuinely frightening, creepiest, darkest and most terrifying books I have ever read. I first read it back in the back when horror was almost all I read! Well..not really but it was a big part of my reading materials. That has changed through the years. I still dig Saul though. I grew up with him. But TO THIS DAY..I cannot reread this. It is so SO SOO scary. My lovely mamacita turned me onto this book. She could not sleep with the lights off after she I will be honest. This book..is one of the most genuinely frightening, creepiest, darkest and most terrifying books I have ever read. I first read it back in the back when horror was almost all I read! Well..not really but it was a big part of my reading materials. That has changed through the years. I still dig Saul though. I grew up with him. But TO THIS DAY..I cannot reread this. It is so SO SOO scary. My lovely mamacita turned me onto this book. She could not sleep with the lights off after she read this. Basic plot? No..I will give you snippets..two sisters..in a rural small town..Elizabeth and Sara..Elizabeth is beautiful and charming. Sara has some issues. Parents have marital issues..many. Children are going missing. Does not sound much different from what you've read right? Well..it is! I cannot say why without spoilers. SPOILERS; A hole. In the ground. Living people. Animals. A cat. A cat gruesomely murdered. Children emotionally tortured while forced to hold..and dance..with said cat. That's just about five percent of it. I doubt I will ever read this again because of the fear factor and the horrific animal violence which went over my head when I first read this. Well hey when your ten everything goes over your head. If you never want to sleep again and do not mind horrific animal violence read this book. Oh man Saul you really went overboard on this one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    This book was just okay. I did not believe the characters or their relationships. I may think twice before reading more John Saul. This was his first effort, so maybe the books will improve after this one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Manish Meshram

    The first book that I had picked up of John Saul was "The Right hand of Evil".It was very dark book and it impressed me.So I thought let's go back to from where Johhn Saul started it all.And thats how a picked up a copy of "Suffer the Children". After reading the book it left me totally numbed. There are just no words to decribe the emotional roller coaster ride that this book took me on. The best part of this book is the ending..it just shatters you completely and stays with you for a very long The first book that I had picked up of John Saul was "The Right hand of Evil".It was very dark book and it impressed me.So I thought let's go back to from where Johhn Saul started it all.And thats how a picked up a copy of "Suffer the Children". After reading the book it left me totally numbed. There are just no words to decribe the emotional roller coaster ride that this book took me on. The best part of this book is the ending..it just shatters you completely and stays with you for a very long time. Recommend all to pick up this masterpiece.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marianneboss

    WORST.PARENTS.EVER I know this is John Saul's first book and I've only read Comes the blind fury besides this, but I'm starting to notice a pattern here: -100 years ago some heavy stuff happened to a little girl... -A deadly cliff near the main character's house where bad things happen. -Another little girl in the 'present' day starts acting weird under the shadow of that one from the past, shit goes down and people start to die. -Adults are oblivious and unable to outsmart a kid. -Dolls resembling t WORST.PARENTS.EVER I know this is John Saul's first book and I've only read Comes the blind fury besides this, but I'm starting to notice a pattern here: -100 years ago some heavy stuff happened to a little girl... -A deadly cliff near the main character's house where bad things happen. -Another little girl in the 'present' day starts acting weird under the shadow of that one from the past, shit goes down and people start to die. -Adults are oblivious and unable to outsmart a kid. -Dolls resembling the kids they belonged to. -Father figure totally useless and the main reason all that shit happens in the first place. -EVIL KIDS ARE EVIL. Also, I just can't believe how everyone underreacts at the fact that the father may have done something to his own daughter, and even let him still be around her. Heck! Even when he admits to his wife that he remembered beating his daughter and having sudden desires to rape her, she doesn't do the most rational thing and take her kids and get the hell out of there sending the bastard to prison, no! She stays there and even teases him because he can't get it up with her since the incident with the daughter! WHAT THE HELL, WOMAN?? WHAT ARE YOU MADE OF??

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sara Saif

    You know, I think I prefer the vampire children. At least, then I knew what was wrong and who was the enemy and what to expect. This book was like being lost in the dark. It was terrifying. The book is intensely atmospheric. Fear of the unseen and unknown is more potent than fear of something you can understand. The author built up such a climate of suspense and terror, I was afraid the whole time I was reading the stupid book. The writing was good. I think that book was a tad too long. This opini You know, I think I prefer the vampire children. At least, then I knew what was wrong and who was the enemy and what to expect. This book was like being lost in the dark. It was terrifying. The book is intensely atmospheric. Fear of the unseen and unknown is more potent than fear of something you can understand. The author built up such a climate of suspense and terror, I was afraid the whole time I was reading the stupid book. The writing was good. I think that book was a tad too long. This opinion only strengthens when you look at how rushed and unfulfilling the ending is. Yes, it chilled me to the bone, reading those last few pages, but it was not enough. There are so many blank spaces that the author didn't fill, and it's not even the kind of mystery you can solve by putting two and two together. There were many vague elements to the plot, which while adding significantly to the dread and fright already hanging in the air, did not present a clear picture of what actually happened. The third quarter of the book is a repetition of the second quarter and if the writing hadn't been so good, it would have been a problem. I was more than halfway convinced that this was a psychological thriller but, well, I couldn't make up my mind. Only the presence of supernatural elements can hope to answer what the ACTUAL DEAL was with this book. Ugh. I don't recommend it, it'll only instill the monster-under-the-bed fear and won't even give you a satisfying conclusion for your trouble.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    After hearing so much about this particular novel, I chanced upon it at the local used bookstore. I finished it in two days. This is the first Saul novel I've read, and I have to say that I enjoyed it. The writing was fast-paced, the characters were tolerable, even though Elizabeth annoyed me in whatever characterization she appeared. Normally I am able to read through most disturbing scenes in novels. I'm somehow built up a tolerance to them. But whether it was because of the inclusion of child After hearing so much about this particular novel, I chanced upon it at the local used bookstore. I finished it in two days. This is the first Saul novel I've read, and I have to say that I enjoyed it. The writing was fast-paced, the characters were tolerable, even though Elizabeth annoyed me in whatever characterization she appeared. Normally I am able to read through most disturbing scenes in novels. I'm somehow built up a tolerance to them. But whether it was because of the inclusion of children or just the overall situation, I found myself utterly grossed out and disturbed by certain parts of the novel. Still, it's a fast read and keeps you holding on until the end. And that's where my main complaint comes in. I felt horribly let down by the ending. And I know I'm not the only one. After everything that happened, the novel ended on such a blank and unsatisfying note. I felt no closure. But I did feel an overwhelming sense of dread as I closed the book. So I guess the ending worked on that note. Overall, the novel is great for fans of horror and thriller fiction.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dani

    Few books have struck me with such ferocious intensity as Suffer the Children by John Saul. A lot of horror books tempt you with their promises of monsters so horrible they could not possibly exist in the real world. What are truly horrifying are the monsters that do exist here in our everyday lives. They may even exist inside of us. This is the tale of a haunting. While some may have taken this book as a ghost story, I instead saw a story about generational violence and the inherited shame of in Few books have struck me with such ferocious intensity as Suffer the Children by John Saul. A lot of horror books tempt you with their promises of monsters so horrible they could not possibly exist in the real world. What are truly horrifying are the monsters that do exist here in our everyday lives. They may even exist inside of us. This is the tale of a haunting. While some may have taken this book as a ghost story, I instead saw a story about generational violence and the inherited shame of incest. Like many victims of childhood abuse I related strongly to the overwhelming desire to recreate our abuse in order to gain mastery of our emotions during that which made us most powerless. This book exposed those desires to their most raw point. The monster isn’t the abuser but the chaos the abuse creates. There is no victory to be had in this fight. None shall escape unscathed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Trudi

    I read this book when I was a teenager and can hardly remember a thing about it other than that it scared the crap out of me at the time. Small town, evil kid, and a horrible, dreadful scene involving a cat that I've completely blocked from my mind.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason P

    Have you ever picked up a book after looking at the cover and letting your mind wonder how cool the book is going to be because the cover art was cool, or it led your mind to think that the book was going to be amazing? This is exactly what I did with Jon Saul's Suffer the Children. I read the back cover and it led me to think that it was going to be a mixture of the Poltergeist and the Amityville horror, and after reading it, I definitely got that impression. Fact: Children do suffer in this nov Have you ever picked up a book after looking at the cover and letting your mind wonder how cool the book is going to be because the cover art was cool, or it led your mind to think that the book was going to be amazing? This is exactly what I did with Jon Saul's Suffer the Children. I read the back cover and it led me to think that it was going to be a mixture of the Poltergeist and the Amityville horror, and after reading it, I definitely got that impression. Fact: Children do suffer in this novel; Oh! how they suffer. The small town of Port Arbello is rocked by the disappearance of some local children who have gone out to play, and had never come back home. Just to interject on my own review; what was Saul thinking when he thought of the name of the town? Port Arbello? Seriously? If you say it together, this comes to mind: Okay, good, I thought I was the only one who caught on to that; it was worth a quick laugh anyway. On with the rest of this review. This story is based on a long ago legend of the Conger family, who many years ago had a prominent member that raped and killed his youngest daughter, and after that he decided to take his own life. The family now consists of a father, mother, and two daughters. Throughout the years the family legend was told to the children to keep them from going too far out on the edge of the property. There is a slick embankment there and, hidden there, is a cave where supposedly anything that was cast out to sea would eventually wash back up. One day, Elizabeth and Sarah decide it would be a good idea to go investigate this cave, and the aftermath of this decision only leads us, the reader into the horrifying outcome of what is actually happening in this small town. I stuck with this book because not only was it a fairly quick read, but it had me gasping every few pages, and in my opinion that makes for a good time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    I re-wrote an entire chunk of a review since I re-read it but it vanished. I'll give you the gist: I enjoyed it a bit more than I did when I first read it, but it's still got a slew of problems. Many questions go unanswered, namely how the Conger curse came to be and why, but at close to 400 pages, there's no shortage of corny dialogue and repetition of sequences. It's fascinating that a publisher chose THIS book to get behind in the wake of the Horror boom given it's short on so many of the ing I re-wrote an entire chunk of a review since I re-read it but it vanished. I'll give you the gist: I enjoyed it a bit more than I did when I first read it, but it's still got a slew of problems. Many questions go unanswered, namely how the Conger curse came to be and why, but at close to 400 pages, there's no shortage of corny dialogue and repetition of sequences. It's fascinating that a publisher chose THIS book to get behind in the wake of the Horror boom given it's short on so many of the ingredients that made those books successful. This is clearly a case of great, "right place-right time" marketing, because John Saul is simply not a very good or engaging writer. However, it's got some great moments, strong atmospheric descriptions of a New England coastal town and some really nasty stuff in a cave, including feline necrophilia and dismemberment/cruelty and torture of children that truly is horrific, but very low-brow. I like the book enough to read more of Saul's stuff and give it a solid 3/5 as opposed to my initial 2.5. Give it a spin, if for no other reason than a solid horror reading history lesson. My original review from September: As a guy who reads quite a bit of horror fiction...it's basically ALL I read...it's pretty bizarre that I've not ever read anything by John Saul. I own TONS of his books, as they're readily available, and in mass quantity, at most used bookstores in my area. But until Suffer The Children, I've never read his work. To be fair, I've mostly avoided it on account of Saul's reputation for being a particularly neutered horror experience; when you graduate from Christopher Pike, but aren't quite ready for King, Saul is where you land. That's a pretty astute assessment. But with that said, this guy has sold millions of books. And there's a reason why. His writing style is simple, accessible and light. His horror isn't SO horrific that most casual readers will be turned away. And he writes most frequently about the favorite topic of readers everywhere: messed up families. Splash a little supernatural around, a dash of gore and a heap of disturbing sexual content, but NEVER so disturbing to push anyone away, it's easy access horror reading for a more global audience than the standard horror auteur. I suppose it's fair to say that Suffer The Children is fine, serviceable stuff that is like literary ramen. It goes in, it's quick and cheap and tastes okay enough to eat again the next time you're hungry and there's nothing else in the cupboard. The greatest failure of STC is it's hopelessly dated dialogue, which is meandering and generally pretty bad, seeming to be pulled from a 70s TV movie. This is compounded by Saul's choice of storytelling, which is mostly delivered BY dialogue as opposed to narration. The generally light storyline is spoon-fed to us by the paper thin characters. Whether or not it sold a million copies in 1977 is pretty irrelevant at this point, because the book is now a story you've read at least a dozen times before...an old curse rears its ugly head on a family through their adolescent daughter, who does some fairly atrocious things throughout the novel...it's been done before, during and after this book, and infinitely better. Despite its bestseller status and reasonable reputation of it's author, one could very well yank the cover off and throw a skeleton on it, and it would sit quite nicely with the midlist of what Zebra was churning out a decade later. I guess it's a reasonable horror history lesson and readers could do much worse, but by-and-large, this things strictly middle of the road reading. 2.5/5, almost a three during some particularly nasty moments in a cave...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Richard Haynes

    Another great read from one of the best Gothic horror writers of all-time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    I don't recall being blown away by any of John Saul's books, but this one stuck more than the others. Perhaps it's because it was my first horror novel. I don't know. There are scenes in this book that still haunt me (don't worry, no spoilers).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leo .

    Another horror writer from my early days. This is a really good book.🐯👍

  22. 4 out of 5

    Martine Carlsson

    It isn't exactly a horror book. It reminded me of The Silence of the lamb in the cold, dark atmosphere (even if the story is completely different). There are strong, weird/violent scenes but they are so well described that I didn't feel sick about it. Unlike other writers, J. Saul was not enjoying writing these scenes. It's just part of the story. The book is a solid thriller as well and I couldn't put it down. I also have to say that Suffer... is beautifully written in term of vocabulary. I giv It isn't exactly a horror book. It reminded me of The Silence of the lamb in the cold, dark atmosphere (even if the story is completely different). There are strong, weird/violent scenes but they are so well described that I didn't feel sick about it. Unlike other writers, J. Saul was not enjoying writing these scenes. It's just part of the story. The book is a solid thriller as well and I couldn't put it down. I also have to say that Suffer... is beautifully written in term of vocabulary. I give 4 stars because I felt like the end missed some more details though it didn't leave me frustrated.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dave Edmunds

    4.5 out of 5. What an introduction to this author for me. Well written and very creepy. Loved the premise and found the characters engaging and well developed. I will most certainly be reading more...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Delmy

    Kinda sums up what happened to this story. Its basically like a horror movie of the week. Which is fine. It was a lot longer than it needed to be in some areas and confusing in others. It's disturbing to say the least. Not necessarily the stuff that happens, as disturbing as that was, but the way the characters react to most of it. Just ignoring it or not discussing it at all. Its your average sleepy town, families that have been there for generations, creepy kids. Clueless parents. Things that Kinda sums up what happened to this story. Its basically like a horror movie of the week. Which is fine. It was a lot longer than it needed to be in some areas and confusing in others. It's disturbing to say the least. Not necessarily the stuff that happens, as disturbing as that was, but the way the characters react to most of it. Just ignoring it or not discussing it at all. Its your average sleepy town, families that have been there for generations, creepy kids. Clueless parents. Things that would bother normal human beings seem to be brushed aside or completely ignored. Official thought? Meh.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Todd

    First Saul book I ever read, about ten or so years ago. It kept me up all night. Anything horror involving children has always been terrifying to me and Saul does it best. Since then I’ve read several more from him.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Collin Henderson

    What the hell? Seriously, what the hell? I bought this at a second hand bookstore on a reccomendation from the owner. She said if I liked King (I do) then I would like this book. And I have to say that I can't fathom how this has almost four stars on this site. The plot concerns the Congers, a family with a supposed curse on them. Jack, the dad, blacked out a year ago and can't remember what happened in the nearby forest that made his daughter Sarah go mute. This causes strains on his relationship What the hell? Seriously, what the hell? I bought this at a second hand bookstore on a reccomendation from the owner. She said if I liked King (I do) then I would like this book. And I have to say that I can't fathom how this has almost four stars on this site. The plot concerns the Congers, a family with a supposed curse on them. Jack, the dad, blacked out a year ago and can't remember what happened in the nearby forest that made his daughter Sarah go mute. This causes strains on his relationship with Rose, his wife, and his oddly mature daughter Elizabeth. When local children go missing, shenanigans ensue. I love horror. LOVE it. The creepy cover and cheap price sold me on this book and I was severely disappointed. Without giving too much away, the book spins its wheels for almost four hundred pages before leading to an entirely unsatisfying and ambiguous ending. Now, I don't need everything spelled out for me in stories, as long as there's enough to draw your own conclusions from. This book has nothing to "chew on" because there is no mystery. Saul shows the reader every aspect of the story so the ending just leaves the reader with a question of "what" instead of "huh that was interesting." What's more, Saul's writing is the blandest and most dull thing ever. It's technically sound, but has no spark. It's like reading a really dull essay about something mildly interesting. Oh, and he does numerous things that bug me, like opening his book with irrelevant descriptions of the weather and saying "so and so did this, as if (makes a comparison that is entirely the subtext instead of an actual metaphor)." The only reason this didn't get one star is that it doesn't feel as much a chore to read as something like Moby Dick. It's pretty close though. Ignore the 4 star rating. This is a bad book and there are hundreds of other horror novels and writers pout there that are far more deserving of your time.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Felts

    2 1/2 STARS Back in the late 80's and early 90's I discovered John Saul's books. Unfortunately, I read all of the ones I could get my hands on one right after the other and now I don't remember which ones I read and which ones I didn't (I do know that I stopped reading his stuff after he and his publishers released "The Blackstone Chronicles" series which was published as 6 novelettes; an obvious attempt to copy the successful "Green Mile" series of Stephen King). Therefore, I have decided to sta 2 1/2 STARS Back in the late 80's and early 90's I discovered John Saul's books. Unfortunately, I read all of the ones I could get my hands on one right after the other and now I don't remember which ones I read and which ones I didn't (I do know that I stopped reading his stuff after he and his publishers released "The Blackstone Chronicles" series which was published as 6 novelettes; an obvious attempt to copy the successful "Green Mile" series of Stephen King). Therefore, I have decided to start at the beginning of his career and forever record them in my goodreads library! Sadly, Suffer the Children is the book I had to start with. This must not have been one of the ones I read before, because I think I would have remembered some of the visuals that Saul includes in this story. Child abuse, ghostly body-possessions of children, and ritualistic killings and suicides make up most of "not for the squeamish" scenes. Although the plot is interesting enough to have kept my attention, the ending leaves too much unresolved to give it a full 3 stars.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Well, the children sure do suffer. It was an intense read, but relies more on gore and shock to scare and it gets old. There are also a lot of plot holes, and characters acting unbelievably dumb. Spoilers ahead! 1. Why haven't they built a fence around the woods so people don't die in there? 2. The first time you know your daughter snuck outside in the middle of the night, wouldn't you look into childproof locks or something? 3. At the end when they mention prosecuting I had to roll my eyes because Well, the children sure do suffer. It was an intense read, but relies more on gore and shock to scare and it gets old. There are also a lot of plot holes, and characters acting unbelievably dumb. Spoilers ahead! 1. Why haven't they built a fence around the woods so people don't die in there? 2. The first time you know your daughter snuck outside in the middle of the night, wouldn't you look into childproof locks or something? 3. At the end when they mention prosecuting I had to roll my eyes because it would be the most flimsy case ever made. 4. The Secretary. Here's a major spoiler, but I can't believe how quick she is to dismiss the fact that he wanted to rape his daughter and says his wife is overreacting. Also affairs with secretaries are as cliche as you can get. 5. If Rose was so concerned about leaving the girls alone with the housekeeper, why wouldn't she check before she leave to make sure the housekeeper is awake?! 6. Why did no one realize that Elizabeth is always the one to see the missing person last?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Suffer the Children reminds me a bit of the early Stephen King books. It starts with a big mystery and through the story things will get clearer, but also get a lot more disturbing. You get a clear vision of what is happening to the characters. It made me keep reading and reading. Until I got to the end (last 5 or 10 pages). Suddenly the ending didn't feel like the rest of the book. It felt very rushed. The detailed how's and why's of the characters kind of disappeared. And the end was a bit abr Suffer the Children reminds me a bit of the early Stephen King books. It starts with a big mystery and through the story things will get clearer, but also get a lot more disturbing. You get a clear vision of what is happening to the characters. It made me keep reading and reading. Until I got to the end (last 5 or 10 pages). Suddenly the ending didn't feel like the rest of the book. It felt very rushed. The detailed how's and why's of the characters kind of disappeared. And the end was a bit abrupt, I thought my epub file was missing the last pages or something, but it wasn't. It is a shame because the rest of the book was so good.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    My very first John Saul novel, one of several that I picked up at the Barrie Flea Market last year. It was good as well as creepy. The characters seemed like normal, everyday people - a family with problems, and strange happenings. Several times, I was shocked, dismayed, angry, and freaked right out. What happens in the novel doesn't seem so far-fetched, and it's scary how real it seems. The end made me feel helpless and I shuddered at something else. Want to read an older psycho thriller, this one My very first John Saul novel, one of several that I picked up at the Barrie Flea Market last year. It was good as well as creepy. The characters seemed like normal, everyday people - a family with problems, and strange happenings. Several times, I was shocked, dismayed, angry, and freaked right out. What happens in the novel doesn't seem so far-fetched, and it's scary how real it seems. The end made me feel helpless and I shuddered at something else. Want to read an older psycho thriller, this one will make you sleep with the light on.

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