The Children God Forgot by Graham Masterton is a terrifying story that pulls many of the different horror levers.
The story starts with pain, visceral stabbing pain in a woman’s belly. The woman in question wakes up in the hospital, completely confused. She finds out she is pregnant, which is impossible. There is no way that she could be pregnant; she had an abortion three months ago. The doctors perform an emergency c-section and deliver a horrifically malformed fetus. One that could not possibly be alive, but it is. Major Cthulu vibes here. Then a rash of strange births and pregnancy sweep through London.
“How much worse could her life become, if she wasn’t even allowed to die?”
Simultaneously, sewage engineer Gemma, owner of the sewage company, and cameraman make a routine check in a section of London’s sewers. As they travel through the engulfing claustrophobic darkness of a sewer pipe, they discover a fatberg, a stony mound of toilet paper, and grease clogging the sewer flow. They also find a severed women’s hand floating in the refuse. Immediately, chaos happens, lights flash, electricity arcs, and the three workers are thrown into utter and complete darkness while trudging through human waste. To say that the moment is something of nightmares would be an understatement.
Up ahead around the pipe bend, the three workers can see child-like figures glowing amongst the waste. Child-like figures made of claws, horribly and inhumanly disfigured, that move with lightning speed. They make a run for it, and all make it out except for Gemma’s boss, who disappears only to be found later with his legs amputated and his eyes ripped from the sockets.
DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel of the supernatural squad team up once again to delve into what is lurking in London’s sewers and if it is going to stop with one dismembered body or if there will be more.
Spoiler alert, there will be more. Because, of course, there will be. Masterton will be Masterton, and it won’t be just one type of horror. He is going to poke and prod every kind of horror with a stick. He makes you squirm and scream and feel sick. I think that you could have a solid horror story of just the sewer part of the story because, especially for someone with claustrophobia…holy shit. But, there is a robust supernatural angle to this story. What are these things that look like malformed children, and who is the woman with the knives that keeps appearing?
Unfortunately, I will have to stop the description there because it will give it away if I say anymore. Imagine something like The Strain, but with occult vibes taking place in a sewer. Now top it all off with a police procedural, and you won’t be far off. Because at the story’s heart is a case that needs to get solved.
The supernatural squad is a competent duo. There is no flash with them, aside from wanting to get to the heart of the case. They had appeared together in the novel Ghost Virus; if you have read that, you would be familiar with the pair. However, reading the previous installment in no way affects your enjoyment of this one.
The Children God Forgot will not be for everyone because this is some deep body horror. It is terrifying. I’d put some trigger warnings, flaying, abortion, claustrophobic spaces; there is a lot. If you can’t make it through the first three chapters of this book, you will not like what is in store. It will only get scarier and darker with a lot more gore. I love horror, and even I had to put the e-reader down now and then. Because, wow, some of these scenes are dark as hell. One particular one included one of these monstrous fetus-creatures eating a cat and tearing it apart with a cracking sound of a broken rib cage—bits of fur flying everywhere. You get the point.
If you love horror of all sorts and want to be scared, The Children God Forgot is for you. Masterton is, well, a master of writing horror. If you are new to his books. Congratulations, you are in for a hell of a ride! I know that some of these scenes will be burned on your brain like Masterton used an actual branding iron; I promise you will recover from the cat scene and a few others soon.