Book Review: When the Children Come by Barry Kirwan

Posted January 10, 2021 by brokengeekdesigns in Bookreview / 3 Comments

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Title: When the Children Come

Author: Barry Kirwan

Publisher: Independent

Publication Date: Dec 2020

Comment: I was given a free copy by the Author and Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine and are in no way beamed down from the space ship currently sitting on the dark side of the Earth.

Also trigger warning for child death and violence to children. (Not graphic)


Nathan, emotionally scarred after three tours in Afghanistan, lives alone in Manhattan until New Year’s Eve, when he meets Lara. The next morning, he notices that something odd is going on – a terrified kid is being pursued by his father, and a young girl, Sally, pleads with Nathan to hide her from her parents. There is no internet, no television, no phone coverage. Nathan, Lara and Sally flee across the East Coast, encountering madmen, terrorists, the armed forces, and other children frightened for their lives. The only thing Nathan knows for sure is that he must not fall asleep… 


After a delightful New Year’s Eve romp with Lara, Nathan is stopped on his way to get morning coffee by a terrified child running from their parent.

But this is more than an isolated incident of domestic violence as his neighbours’ kid, Sally, breaks into his apartment, terrified of her own parents.

Something is going on across the planet as tiny little body bags make their way onto every street. Every adult is out for the blood of the innocent and they will stop at nothing to eradicate every single child from the planet.

With little Sally in tow, Nathan and Lara must try to find safety amidst a group of terrorists who all have the same goals. Protect the children and do not fall asleep.

But when those infected start parroting the ominous phrase “the children are coming”, Nathan suddenly has the fate of humanity on his hands.


I’m not usually a huge fan of staccato sentences. I find them difficult to read and think they impede the flow of a story.

Yet they really worked here. Hollis’ mind was straightforward and military-like, and those short, sharp sentences both matched his personality and also helped to add tension to the story.

I also liked Lara although felt she wasn’t as used as she could have been, often she felt almost like an afterthought or added for sexual tension.

Raphaela and Dave were both nice additions to the characters and had a unique relationship which I would have liked to see more of, but obviously, that wasn’t the direction of the story. Also, little Sally was an adorable fire-cracker, older than her years but understandable given the circumstances.

I enjoyed the authors’ diversity of characters and the little insights into different cultures that were dropped in at various points.

The plot was unique and very well executed. It reminded me of a cuckoo’s tale and I did expect someone to bring that up at some point. I’m pleased that any direct violence to children was not graphically expressed or described as I think that would have been gratuitous. Instead, the slight references to body-bags and silent schools were enough to set the scene without going into prurient detail.

The descriptive passages were kept to a minimum, mostly explained via dialogue, which meant that the pace was kept up. This helped add to the tension and ensured that you were gripped enough to keep reading.

I will definitely be interested in reading the next instalment.

A really strong addition to the dystopian genre and a thoroughly gripping read. Would recommend.

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3 responses to “Book Review: When the Children Come by Barry Kirwan

  1. Hi Fayth, many thanks for the review and comments – by the way I really like the way you outlined the story, better than what is on Amazon 🙂 It is indeed a ‘cuckoo’s tale’ and initially I had that in there but an editor persuaded me to take it out (just goes to show…). Glad you found it a gripping read!

    • brokengeekdesigns

      You’re welcome, thank you for the opportunity to read. I have a post-apocalyptic group at my library who I will be recommending it to.

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