"Children of Chicago" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Agora Books
Written by Cynthia Pelayo
2021, 303 pages, Fiction
Released on March 9th, 2021
Mystery and the supernatural make great bedfellows, and Cynthia Pelayo’s Children of Chicago is a prime example of that. And, if I’m being honest here, I tend to like those genres as much as I love horror. If you put the latest Jack Reacher or Harry Bosch book in front of me along with Stephen King’s latest, it would not be unnatural for me to go with the Bosch or Reacher first. So when you get a book that seamlessly marries mystery and horror, I’m all in. Children of Chicago does exactly that.
The book follows Detective Lauren Medina as she investigates a murder of a teenager that happens to be at the same lake where her sister’s body was found when the two were children. To make matters more intriguing, there is graffiti at the scene, a tag Lauren is all too familiar with. The same name that was seen near where her sister was found. Pied Piper.
Here’s the thing about fairy tales: Originally, they were dark and brutal as hell. When we were kids, my sister found a Grimm's Fairy Tales book somewhere that most definitely was not filled with the stories we had been told growing up. As I got older, I found that this book’s contents are closer to the originals than the watered-down versions that were told or read to us. I wish I knew what happened to that book.
Anyway, Pelayo dives deep into this. The evilness of the original tales. Not only that, but she also sprinkles history lessons throughout the book about Chicago’s vast history with violence, murder, serial killers, and…fairy tales. I love this sort of thing. I eat it up when an author is so intimate with the location they are writing about that I learn new things. The way Pelayo weaves Chicago’s very dark past into the story is worth the price of admission alone.
Another thing the book has going for it is the characters have meat. Lauren herself projects a strong exterior, but is completely broken on the inside. The kids she’s trying to help are equally hurting. It’s very real life, where most people don’t reveal the issues they're dealing with. It’s all so incredibly tragic. It’s as if many of the issues going on in the novel, from Lauren’s to the troubled kids, could be avoided if people just communicated with one another.
The book works on a variety of levels. You get the mentioned knowledge drops about Chicago, a fascinating murder mystery, and more-than-a-touch of the supernatural. This is a win/win/win all around. Grab your wallet, buy this book and prepare yourself to hang out with the Children of Chicago.
This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.