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The Midwich Cuckoos

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,455 Ratings  ·  524 Reviews
'Who are these children? There’s something about the way they look at one with those curious eyes’

Every woman, married or unmarried, in the sleepy English village of Midwich suddenly finds herself pregnant. The children are born blond-haired and golden-eyed and seem merely unusual, but as they grow, their ‘families’ begin to notice their sinister powers of telepathy and gr
Hardcover, John Wyndham: Three Novels, 203 pages
Published December 2010 by The Folio Society (first published 1957)
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Matt My opinions are of course subjective, and my values and sensibilities may not reflect your own. There are adult situations dealing with pregnancy,…moreMy opinions are of course subjective, and my values and sensibilities may not reflect your own. There are adult situations dealing with pregnancy, nothing too graphically described, if I recall correctly. I think the prose style may be difficult for younger readers, unless they are very advanced readers. And this is one of the rare cases where I enjoyed the original movie (not the remake) more than the book. The fantasy horror elements of psychic children controlling and harming adults can be scary in movie and perhaps in the book as well. Everyone has different sensibilities, so you should always read the book first if you are a concerned parent choosing more challenging reading for a child. (less)

Community Reviews

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Dec 26, 2015 Carmen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those in the Mood for Retro Sci-Fi Fun
Recommended to Carmen by: Instagram
The dawn of the 27th was an affair of slatternly rags soaking in a dishwater sky, with a gray light weakly filtering through. Nevertheless, in Oppley and in Stouch cocks crowed and other birds welcomed it melodiously. In Midwich, however, no birds sang.

In Oppley and Stouch, too, as in other places, hands were soon reaching out to silence alarm clocks, but in Midwich the clocks rattled on till they ran down.

In other villages sleepy-eyed men left their cottages and encountered their workmates with
I can't remember when I first read The Midwich Cuckoos, but it was certainly within 30 years of the end of World War II. Now, almost 40 years later, the postwartime feel is even more present in this short novel, despite the book itself being published in 1957. The way the army moves in immediately, the jeeps on the road, meetings between people who clearly think of themselves as the elders of the village, the consequent emphasis on protecting ordinary people, the "Grange" with its important secr ...more
Jul 26, 2016 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Wyndham's books are often described, labeled or tagged as cozy catastrophe, I am not sure what that means as the two books* I have read so far of his are rather unsettling. My guess is the Englishness of his prose style and the politeness of his characters. As something of an anglophile I very much appreciate this style of writing, it is very comforting and old school, especially with a nice cuppa tea in my hand. The only serious problem with this book is that the plot is so well known. It ...more
Jun 13, 2009 Simon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, sf
As I read this book, it began to strike me how Wyndham's world view contrasted with that of Tolkien's. Whereas Tolkien harked back to a pre-industrial time of innocence wishing we might get back closer to nature, Wyndham reminds us that we only invented civilisation as a way of distancing ourselves from the harshness and brutality of nature. There is nothing cosy and secure about mother nature.

Wyndham also tells us that tolerance of difference is a luxury of those who are secure in themselves. W
Sci fi, horror, dystopian...? A bit of all of them.

This is a straightforward and somewhat leisurely story that touches on very deep and difficult themes, mostly indirectly, but explicitly in the last quarter.

Midwich is a sleepy English village in the late 1950s. One day, everyone in the village blacks out. They awake, apparently unharmed, only to discover that all the fertile women are pregnant - but the children they give birth to are not like other human children, and turn out to have extraord
This short book on a surreptitious alien invasion continues to resonate in my imagination weeks after reading it. The pleasure of the read for me was in the quiet unfolding of events pieced together by a neutral, largely uninvolved narrator. As with Hitchcock movies, the truly disturbing events are either off-camera or seen in a reflection of someone’s experience. I think its anti-cinematic tone of a radio play may be why the book was considered enough of an innovation in the form of the novel t ...more
* 1/2 stars

I'm actually shocked by how utterly and completely this book frustrated and bored the hell out of me, how crushingly disappointed I am by the whole affair. I mean, this is John Wyndham for Chrissake -- author of The Chrysalids and The Day of the Triffids (both of which are all levels of awesome).

This? This just pisses me off. It's made me want to make my Jules face -- yeah, I got one ... what of it?

I mean, you have GOT to be fucking kidding me. How does such a fantastic idea in the
Dan Schwent
Dec 16, 2009 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: early-sf
Ah, my other favorite John Wyndham classic and another prime example of the blurred lines between sf and horror in the first half of the 20th century.

You all are familiar with the concept even if you don't know where it comes from. Creepy kids are born in an isolated England town to unsuspecting mothers and proceed to terrorize it with their hivemind and telepathic abilities. Classic stuff and pillaged innumerable time in both print and film. How do you defeat enemies who know your every thought
Three and a half stars, I rounded down because I feel like I've been getting a little four-star-happy of late.

Gotta give some serious props to Dan for recommending this to me upon my proclamation that I find few things scarier than powerful children en masse. If that's your thing, then this is the book for you. Seriously, just look at some of the covers this book has are creepy!

As someone who has been perpetually unclear on the difference between a baby and a parasite (ok, biological
Nov 16, 2008 Robert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Wyndham, after writing in several different genres under a different name in each, decided to write "realistic" science-fiction - and met with success.
In this book, one character expounds the view that in all science-fiction, aliens invade Earth by turning up with superior armaments and blasting away - until defeated, having underestimated humanity or overlooked some other factor of crucial importance (e.g. microbes in War of the Worlds). They are essentially doomed by their own hubris. During t
I enjoyed The Midwich Cuckoos more than I expected to, I think. I have a difficult relationship with horror stories: I have enjoyed a few, but I'm also quite susceptible to being made anxious and put on edge. The Midwich Cuckoos is one of those books that crosses the line between speculative fiction and horror, but it's more to do with a sense of the uncanny, a sense of deep unease, where the things we take for granted are just ever so subtly different, than with big horrifying things happening. ...more
David Sarkies
Apr 30, 2016 David Sarkies rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
The Fear of Change
1 May 2016

I'm going to have to be honest and say that I really didn't like this book all that much, which from glancing over my friends' reviews seems to put me at odds with pretty much all of them (or at least the ones who actually wrote something). Mind you, the one thing that I did like about it (or at least my copy) is the little sticker on it that says 1.50, which brings back memories of the time I was in London and discovered this really cool second-hand bookshop in Leic

The Midwich Cuckoos is part sci-fi and part horror story with a greater emphasis on the sci-fi elements. John Wyndham with this tale, in combination with The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids, has cemented a place on my list of all time great science fiction authors. His works are both entertaining, well written and enlightening. They are a complement to the reader and no doubt many later writers have been inspired by his contributions to writing whether they realise it or not.

The Midwich C
Sean O'Hara
Oh, dear me! Something strange has happened to the village of Midwich. Some mysterious force has shrouded the town and rendered all therein unconscious for a day and a half. When the force lifts, life returns to normal, except that every woman of child-bearing age soon discovers herself to be with child. But never mind the womenfolk -- they're hardly important to this story. All they have to do is give birth. It's up to the men of Midwich to work out what to do. Of course we should want to preve ...more
Aug 26, 2013 Ferdy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meh, sci-fi, classic, powers, aliens
2.5 stars - Spoilers

-Liked some parts, hated others. The most enjoyable aspect was the premise — creepy alien children are always fun to read about. Everything else was kind of dull.

-The pacing was all over the place.

-It wasn't always clear what was going on — the writing was either too dry or made no sense.

-The random changes from first person to third person was annoying.

-There was too much philosophy for my liking.

-I was rooting for the Children more than the villagers. I was disappointed tha
Amy (shoutame)
Oct 28, 2015 Amy (shoutame) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I read The Day of the Triffids last year and thoroughly enjoyed it - I wouldn't say I enjoyed this one quite as much but it was definitely worth the read.

- This novel follows the story of a small rural town called Midwich. Midwich is a pretty unassuming place and very little seems to ever happen there. That is until one day when all of the residents drop down unconscious - there appears to be a border around the entire village and should anyone step through it they loose consciousness. After a f
Dec 27, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, own-it
Although this passage does not appear until halfway through the novel, it sums up much of the core of the Midwich Cuckoos storyline:

"If you were wishful to challenge the supremacy of a society that was fairly stable, and quite well weaponed, what would you do? Would you meet it on its own terms by launching a probably costly, and certainly destructive assault? Or, if time were of no great importance, would you prefer to employ a version of a more subtle tactic? Would you, in fact, try to someho
"What made it the more odd was that Midwich was, almost notoriously, a place where things did not happen.
Janet and I had lived there just over a year then, and found this to be almost its leading feature. Indeed, had there been posts an the entrances to the village bearing a red triange and below them a notice:
the would have seemed not inappropriate."

Herrlich, ich sehe es vor mir: "EUTIN, BITTE NICHT STÖREN". Gleich zum Bürgermeister, eine Eingabe machen.

Aber im Ernst:
Sep 11, 2010 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A quick read from the pulp sci-fi writer who also gave us The Day of the Triffids.

If you've seen Village of the Damned (which is based on this book), you already know the scenario, and there won't be many surprises.

The early parts of the book are the most intriguing. After an entire town experiences a simultaneous blackout, there are shades of "Flash Forward" as the locals try to make sense of it.

The latter half of the book bogs down with lengthy speeches on ethics and morals, and more than a fe
My general overall reaction:

I wasn't impressed. Watch the movie instead. Read the book just to know where the source comes from. It's not terrible, but it's not anything to call home about either. This is coming from someone who loves philosophical, theological, and ethical debate in fiction, but anyway....
Angel Erin
Oct 20, 2015 Angel Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M.G. Mason
Aug 18, 2012 M.G. Mason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is amongst the most intriguing of Wyndham’s work with a lot of subtext to mull over in such a short work. In some schools in the UK, it is still a set text, probably for that reason.

The idea is simple and familiar to anybody who has seen either of the films that it spawned (Village of the Damned). An invisible shield prevents people from entering a certain village. Aerial recon shows that everybody inside is asleep. After several days they wake up… and life carries on as normal… until, that
Jul 10, 2008 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Karen by: Colin M.
This book has one of the catchiest titles of all time! I strong-armed a co-worker into lending it to me by cornering him in the elevator. He practically squirms out of his skin in panic each time I wheel up with my mail cart and check his outbox. He mentioned he started reading The Midwich Cuckoos as part of his recent interest in dystopian literature, so I'm intrigued.

I'm sure he's dreading just the interaction required by my returning it... Little does he know that I plan to borrow all of his
Jun 20, 2013 Nigeyb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intelligent and thought provoking slice of 1950s Cold War-influenced British science fiction. I enjoyed the bourgeoise village life evoked by John Wyndham. That said the book does also show its age: the female characters all underdeveloped, they are generally too distracted, and/or besotted by the Children (the Cuckoos of the book's title), to contribute anything meaningful to the more weighty discussions of the male characters.

It is actually the discussions, and there are plenty of them (pe
Nov 01, 2014 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing book.
Could this happen in real life? Has it already? The book is like a dance with a very able partner it leads you all the way without you really knowing what's going on, but the finale is positively explosive.
John Wyndham is a truely great sci fi writer and I can't wait to crack on with The Chrysalids. A massive and well deserved 4 *
Jo Ann
This was my first BBC Radio Drama I've ever listened to, and I have to say I quite enjoyed it. I'm not sure how close it came to the actual Novella, but it was fun story telling with all kinds of theatrical drama.
Jun 01, 2010 Felicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Basics

One day, everyone in Midwich just falls asleep. Then they all just wake up. It turns out that during this time, every woman in the village was impregnated. And as strange as that sounds, it’s only the beginning.

My Thoughts

So consider the look on my face when I found out that Village of the Damned was originally a book and that it was written by John Wyndham. It was a whole lotta happy. I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a couple of years now, and ultimately I thought it was good.
Jan 02, 2011 FrankH rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Club Read: March, 2010

Agree with Mara and others on the disconnect emerging from the horrific plot elements, the near languid reaction of the villagers to their fate, and the ruminative narrative style. At first, I wanted to reach into my Kindle and give these good burghers a whup up side the head. Don't they know what portends upon the blondish, uniform appearance? The distant glacial behavior? The golden eyes? 'FOR GOD'S SAKE, YOUR BODIES AND LIVES ARE BEING TAKEN OVER BY ALIENS. DO SOMETHING'
Feb 10, 2012 Samuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I love John Wyndham, I do. His originality is truly Wellsian (note, that's the second time in two reviews I've described Wyndham as "Wellsian", surely this stands as evidence enough to support any admiration I've got for him as a science fiction novelist). The Midwich Cuckoos is, simply, another fantastic chunk of classic sci-fi done correctly, based in rationality and the otherworldly. Wyndham has a fondness for the isolated communities which serves to impel the impact of strange alien interlop ...more
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John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris was the son of a barrister. After trying a number of careers, including farming, law, commercial art and advertising, he started writing short stories in 1925. After serving in the civil Service and the Army during the war, he went back to writing. Adopting the name John Wyndham, he started writing a form of science fiction that he called 'logical fantasy'. ...more
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