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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars

on 9 March 2017
4.5 stars.
I keep fluctuating between a score of either 4-or-5, because this is a tough cookie to rank accurately.

Children of the Night presents an interesting take on vampires (and to be honest it is one worthy of its own mythos). It also features an excellent introduction by Simmons himself, in which he recounts a visit to post-Ceauşescu Romania in search of the real Dracula (Vlad Tepes). During this same visit he comes to understand the true plight facing the Romanian people - and none are imperiled more so than the thousands of sickly and unwanted orphans filling untold numbers of hospital wards and orphanages.
It is the brutality of this life which Dan Simmons so expertly places onto the pages as he paints his story of a mother's fight to recover her stolen child.

Kate Neuman is a thirty-something immunologist working the grim halls of Bucharest's District One Hospital, and it is fair to say the grind is bringing her down. Kate 'cares' about every patient she encounters, but the corrupt and unsympathetic still hold sway in Romania, and the supplying of adequate medical resources is considered secondary to the needs of the Baroni and their immediate puppets.

Kate's work brings her into contact with a sickly infant, and by chance it is discovered that blood transfusions (even when given the wrong blood) reverse the child's crippling illness - at least in the short term.

Circumstances lead to Kate adopting the child, and then returning home to the United States with her 'new' son. At the CDC center in Boulder Colorado, it is discovered that baby Joshua has a mutant growth on the wall of his stomach, and it is this strange tumor that enables him to digest and flourish on blood. Further investigation shows that Joshua has a recessive gene illness, and it seems likely this flawed gene may be a familial trait. Joshua is not one of a kind.

Shortly after learning the bizarre nature of her son's illness, Kate is attacked and Joshua stolen away from her. And so, aided by some old friends (including Mike O'Rourke from Simmons' earlier Summer of Night) the hunt begins for her child's abductors. It is a journey that will pull Kate halfway across the world, leading her through ancient towns and cities towards a confrontation with a figure marked by history, a man who should not, cannot still be alive. A man who was once feared, but equally revered by his people. Even though they knew him to be strigio.

Dan Simmons is very literate, and so this is always a smooth read. The opening 2/3rds of the book is excellent, although anyone with an adversity to being bombarded with scientific facts may disagree. But the science didn't bother me. Neither did the overly descriptive prose identifying various routes through, and settlements of the beaten down Romania.

I can forgive such minor blips, because the book is interspersed with chapters titled Dreams of Blood And Iron, and these first person narratives are beautifully written accounts of historical violence. Well done, Mr. Simmons.

Unfortunately, one area in which the book does fall down is that D.S. paints the protagonists into such a tight spot that things have to get a little ridiculous. Yes, I know, militarized gangs of fangsters ruling over Eastern Europe is ridiculous - but there is ridiculous, and then there's ridiculous, ok?
Seriously, dis' bitch Neuman, she's more kick-ass than Bourne, Bond, and Bauer combined, stoked on amphetamines and tooled to the nines.

Even allowing for the slightly hooky ending, Children of the Night is a very good read about vampires. While presenting us with a genuinely fascinating scientific explanation for such creatures, it leaves more than enough meat on the bones to satisfy fang fans.
With tension filled scenes, and characters who are both flawed and believable, I'd say it is definitely worth picking up a copy of this novel.
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on 7 August 2017
A really good original take on the Vampire novel. Dan Simmons uses some historical facts and blends them into a fictional account that I found to be quite ingenious. The book starts strongly and the descriptions of towns and villages etc were first rate. I liked the characters and the parts of the novel that featured Vlad Tepes were really well done. The novel doesn't overstay its welcome, the length is spot on. I think effective horror doesn't need to be 700 - 1000 pages long. The bottom line is that I do recommend this novel but not to readers who 'don't like horrible things happening in horror novels'. This is no teen vampire romance novel with a dollop of sweet sugar sprinkled throughout its pages. This is a 'horror' novel that picked up the Locus award for, 'best horror' novel. Children Of The Night isn't my favourite Simmons novel, but it is a 'goodread' that I recommend.
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on 6 October 2009
Dan Simmons is simply a wonderful writer. In this unusual horror/thriller, the author combines the miracle of modern medical technology with the legend of Count Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler. Well-written and well-researched, the book provides a page turning, interesting twist to traditional vampire lore.

Amidst the desolation of post Ceausescu Romania, orphans are left to rot in state run institutions that are little more than places for them to die a slow, lingering death. An eminent American doctor, research hematologist Kate Neuman, becomes enamored of one little baby boy with an unusual medical condition that she feels can only be addressed in the United States. So, she impulsively adopts him, names him Joshua, and leaves the country with the assistance of a Franciscan priest, Michael O'Rourke.

Once ensconced back in the United States, Kate discovers something about Joshua's condition that provides a medical explanation for the Vampire legends of old. He has a rare genetic mutation that requires periodic blood transfusions for him to live. This condition, however, may also provide the key to cure a host of immunological diseases. Someone or something, however, wants the baby back in Romania and will stop at nothing to get him. For Joshua is a very special little baby, indeed.

The author is brilliant in his description of post communist Romania, A desolate, dreary apparatchik of Soviet demagoguery, one feels the oppression that permeates this Eastern European country. There is a miasma over it that reeks of something evil and powerful. The descriptive language used by the author is quite evocative, making the book highly atmospheric. Although the action at the end of the book may strain credulity at times, it does not diminish the enjoyment the reader will derive from reading this book. On the contrary, it will keep the reader riveted to its pages.
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on 21 March 2000
I have been the proud owner of a hardback copy of The Children Of The Night for almost ten years and still go back to read it again and again. The story is set in the modern day and uses historically accurate accounts (told in the first person) of the infamous Vlad Tepes aka Dracula. It is the ideal starting point for any reader who is interested in the 15th century ruler, both captivating and disgusting in the true accounts of his escapades, though still addictive. The story is basically thus- an American, Kate Neuman while working in a Romanian orphanage, adopts a sick child with a seemingly unknown and incurable disease. After extensive trouble with corrupt authorities she gets him back to America for treatment and begins to personally investigate his disease only to have him snatched in the dead of night and her lab destroyed, her workmates and ex-husband murdered. She enbarks on a perillous journey, using gypsies and criminals to aid her covert re-entry into Romania in a bid to reclaim her adoptive child with explosive results. I wont spoil it by telling you the ending. You'll just have to read the book to find out.
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on 27 June 2011
The most interesting aspect of this book was the author's scientific explanation of how a vampire's system deals with the ability to re-animate itself to live longer. Other than that the rest of the book turns into a B-movie type of run-around where the good guys chased after the bad guys. Simmons's book tried to straggle both lines of horror and thriller but sadly failed in the latter. In the end it grew very tedious and i almost gave up. If you want to read a great take on the vampire genre try Robert McCammon's They Thirst: an infinetly better book.
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on 26 July 2016
If I hadn't read Dan Simmons award-winning works (Hyperion etc.), this would have been a reasonable medico-horror thriller, written for a Hollywood pitch. But having been gob-smacked by his best writing, this was a mediocre disappointment - I kept checking the author title to make sure it was the same Dan Simmons. I wasn't horrified in the least, just bored by its predictability. I ploughed through because I was hoping it would improve, and the ending was a damp squib. There were too many convenient plot twists [spoiler alert!] like the priest who was suddenly an ex-Nam helicopter pilot, after they stumble upon a helicopter, thus providing the deux ex machina ending. And the tedious need to explain things in order to tie up loose ends (e.g. Lucian's heritage). The science seemed sound (but I got lost by the genetics) and was the best attempt I've encountered so far at trying to explain the blood-sucking tendency of vampires. For me, the best vampire series is Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's St Germain series - rich in character and history. Please read her rather than this one. And for medical thrillers, Michael Crichton is king.
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on 30 August 2004
Pure gold.
If you like your fiction peppered with reality and grit, a healthy dose of real, believable, true science and of course horror then you can do better than this.
This book is Simmons best, I'm not a huge SF fan and have not gotten into his more popular hyperion books, but if you like the 'old school' Simmons, horror with a damn good story you can stop looking right now.
This book weaves a link between AIDS and real vampires in such a way you finish the book forgetting its fiction and thinking well, it sits so perfectly it must be true.
Pure genius, if only Simmons could do some more in this genre that he perfects so well.
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on 26 November 2013
Excellent thriller giving a plausible scientific explanation of vampirism. The drabness and helpless mood of Romania, post Ceausescu, are convincingly portrayed.
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on 1 April 2003
The historical accounts in the book are accurate, the Romanian language,the maps, everything. If Dan Simmons did not do his research in Romania itself, you would never have guessed. This book inspired me to seek out the answers myself -- I spent two years in Romania as a Peace Corps volunteer primarily because of this novel.
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