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Suffer the Children

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  22,115 Ratings  ·  226 Reviews
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
Paperback, 378 pages
Published July 1st 1989 by Dell (first published 1977)
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The Blackstone Chronicles by John SaulSuffer the Children by John SaulShadows by John SaulBlack Creek Crossing by John SaulThe Manhattan Hunt Club by John Saul
Best John Saul Books
2nd out of 34 books — 68 voters
The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen KingThe Stand by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram Stoker
The Definitive Horror Book List
178th out of 1,000 books — 1,379 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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


I read a couple of John Saul books when I was around 12. I don't remember much about them other than the undertone
Manish Meshram
May 02, 2010 Manish Meshram rated it it was amazing
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 just shatters you completely and stays with you for a very long
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.
Sep 10, 2011 Laurel rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 21, 2010 Regine rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
Cat lovers should not read this.
Jun 14, 2014 Marianneboss rated it liked it

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 th
Jason P
Mar 20, 2016 Jason P rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror

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
Mar 10, 2012 Dani rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Horror fans. Intense Uncomfortable Situation Fans.
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
May 13, 2008 Erik rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: folks who have run out of other horror novels to read.
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).
May 09, 2016 Ruben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este es el segundo libro que leo de John Saul y ha dejado la vara muy alta para los siguientes que encuentre del autor, la historia centra en una vieja advertencia dentro de la familia Conger, familia reconocida y respetada en Port Arbello, esta advertencia esta con los Conger para evitar que los niños se acerquen al acantilado y sufran algún accidente, sin embargo, esa advertencia oculta algo más oscuro y siniestro, un suceso de hace más de 100 años, que perseguirá a la familia sin descanso, es ...more
Apr 22, 2012 Felts rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, re-read
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
Dec 24, 2015 Sean rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
A fairly quick read. Left a few unanswered questions, but you can speculate as to the answers. Nothing truly original about this one. A somewhat predictable ghost story.
Apr 29, 2008 Gina rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, thriller, suspense
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
P.S. Gifford
Mar 14, 2010 P.S. Gifford rated it it was amazing
I now Saul isn't everyone's 'cup o' tea' and I appreciate this. However this book is very dear to my heart. I read it when I was twelve back in 1977 and it kindled my desire to want to write.

Having recently re-read it i still enjoyed it. It did not impact me as much as the first few times around- but that was 30 plus years ago....And I suspect I have matured (at least a little).

I would still urge any fans of horror to at least give this book a shot if you have not already done so.

Josh Caporale
Oct 17, 2015 Josh Caporale rated it really liked it
I read When the Wind Blows back in 2011 and now I am reading John Saul again with Suffer the Children, since it was his first novel. While I preferred When the Wind Blows, Suffer the Children did not deny me the opportunity to turn pages at a consistent rate. Saul has that ability! In this novel, we explore life on Port Arbello and meet the mysterious Conger family, whose daughter was kidnapped and killed years before. Jack and Rose, along with their daughters Elizabeth and Sarah, and housekeepe ...more
Collin Henderson
May 12, 2016 Collin Henderson rated it it was ok
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
Nox Veneno
Jun 27, 2014 Nox Veneno rated it it was ok
A two star rating doesn't make a book bad, especially not if it got two strong stars like this one, it just means exactly what the two-star rating on GoodReads says it means; it was OK.

The story was a bit all over the place, the narrating did keep a nice and steady pace, but none of the characters were engaging enough to invest any real interest in. It's like we were presented with so many different characters with different issues that we weren't give the time to delve deeper into them and get
Apr 09, 2014 Shelly rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 14, 2013 Megan rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 18, 2012 Cathy rated it did not like it
Shelves: thriller
I read this book many years ago - the plot moves along at a good clip, it's interesting, etc. However, this is such a horrible book - not in the writer's skill, etc. but in the content and scenes drawn for us. The characters are not likable, other than perhaps the youngest daughter who doesn't speak and is terrorized throughout the book. This book is so disturbing - the author seems to have put no limits on his wanting to shock and horrify his readers and in that he succeeds marvelously. I read ...more
Jun 03, 2016 Johnny rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Some people seem to enjoy horror (in comics, film, and novels) for the sense of superiority they feel over the victims when they are traumatized, tortured, or killed by monstrous or inexplicable phenomena. Some folks enjoy horror to see how at least one protagonist manages to survive against insurmountable odds that, somehow, conveniently prove to be surmountable through the courage, ingenuity, and good fortune of the protagonist. Others just seem to enjoy the idea that there might be mysterious ...more
Leanne Wyszkowski
May 24, 2015 Leanne Wyszkowski rated it really liked it
I know I read this book when I was around 16 or so and that I loved it. So when I found a copy I decided to pick it up. I have been a John Saul fan for a very long time so wanted to reread some of his earlier books.

What can I say? John Saul is a master of the macabre. There are some gratuitously graphic scenes, but if you like they way John Saul writes you won't be disappointed.

The only complaint I have about this story was the last couple of pages. I feel that with as relatively straightforwar
Tom Mueller
Apr 17, 2012 Tom Mueller rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tom by: Tracy
Over the years I've probably read most of John Saul's work, but this - I believe his first novel - had the biggest impact on my. I love a good scare and delving into the psyche of the troubled mind, then looking for the reasons of what it was that twisted the individual's mind in the first place.
Suffer the Children scores a Big WOW! on all counts.
Feb 07, 2016 Juanita rated it liked it
Shelves: child-abuse
Review: Suffer The Children by John Saul.

I can 19t say I didn 19t find the story (and that 19s just what it was) disturbing at times but it also held my interest to the end. Several times I had to repeat to myself that it was only fiction. This book came out in the seventies and is listed as young adult. I don 19t think I would want young teenager 19s to read the gruesome details of events that goes on throughout the book. It is a horror and I was blinded by it 19s magnitude that I kept on readi
Mar 06, 2012 Lee rated it liked it
Shelves: john-saul
With this being his first novel, John Saul starts his writing career with what would become his trademark. Stories dealing with kids and young teenagers. This one dealing with a family legend that started a hundred years ago, and continues today. Some towns kids are missing, and they seem to be disappearing near the Conger house. 3.5 stars on his first effort.
Apr 16, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it
This is the first Saul novel I have read, and I enjoyed it. It wasn't mind blowing, but was a good solid read. I think the main let down of this book was the ending, it just faded out and kind of felt like the author had got bored of writing the novel. It's a shame really, as a good ending would have propelled this book to a top class read.
Krista Malone
Apr 04, 2016 Krista Malone rated it it was ok

I usually don't review books but this one had me so confused. Are the adults in the story stupid or what? Any normal person would've noticed what was going on. Agood deal of this book just didn't make much sense to me and wasn't at all realistic. What are the chances that the first child that got away didn't say a peep about what happend to her? And how did a 13 year old girl overpower a 14 year old boy? Or an athletic girl her age? And then neither surviving sister remembers? I feel as
Sep 20, 2013 Matthew rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, horror, kindle, library
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.

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
Dec 18, 2015 Elusive rated it liked it
Shelves: review
In ‘Suffer the Children’, Port Arbello is mysteriously plagued by the disappearance of children and subsequently grotesque deaths. The infamous history about the Congers and the death of a little girl is only the beginning of the horrors to come as Jack and Rose and their two daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah find themselves in the middle of all the tragic occurrences.

Despite the relatively slow pace, the story was engrossing due to the horror being subtle and the gradual build up to impending doom
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The Manhattan Hun...: Suffer The Children - Summer Group Read 2015 6 5 Aug 15, 2015 03:02PM  
Did anyone suspect the shocking ending? 2 39 Dec 30, 2012 03:18AM  
The Manhattan Hun...: Suffer The Children (Group Read - October 2011) 24 30 Sep 22, 2012 05:51PM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN#0-440-18293-X 5 30 Aug 22, 2011 07:06AM  
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John Saul was born in Pasadena, California on February 25, 1942, and grew up in Whittier where he graduated from Whittier High School in 1959. He attended several colleges—Antioch, in Ohio, Cerritos, in Norwalk, California, Montana State University and San Francisco State College, variously majoring in anthropology, liberal arts, and theater, but never obtaining a degree.
After leaving college, he
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