Blog Tour: When the Children Come, Barry Kirwan

Book Review: When the Children Come, Barry Kirwan


When the Children Come

Science Fiction: When the Children Come, Barry Kirwan

Blog Tour January 8, 2021


Nathan has PTSD after serving in Afghanistan, but he has begun to get a handle on things. On New Year’s Eve his sister invites him to a party and sets him up with her friend, Lara. One thing leads to another, and the two of them do not actually get any sleep.


In the morning, Nathan gets up to get some breakfast from a local shop. Something is off. He can’t quite place what is wrong, but the streets are quieter than they should be. But this is New York City, not central Asia, and despite the warnings his soldier-senses are giving him, he tamps down his concerns and continues on his errand.


Upon returning home, he finds a young neighbor girl, Sally, crouched outside his door. She is obviously terrified of something, but cannot talk about it. He brings her into his apartment (much to the surprise and chagrin of Lara) and they begin to piece together what has happened. Sally’s little brother was murdered right in front of her, by their own parents. Other parents and adults have also turned on the children in their care. Somehow the world went mad overnight, he and Lara and (hopefully) some others had avoided the change, and the three of them must flee the city for their lives.


So begins Barry Kirwan’s incredible science fiction novel When the Children Come. Earth is under attack, her children endangered by their own adults, and a ragtag group of survivors must figure out what is happening and how to stop it. Or whether it can be stopped. Or what to do if it cannot.


Kirwan brings together a number of things that are incredibly appealing to me. Nathan and Lara are damaged people. Their damage sometimes helps them and sometimes hurts them in the midst of this crisis. So often in life, damaged people are written off. America does not deal well with mental health issues, including PTSD, or with physical problems that are not visible on the outside. (We’re not so great at dealing with the visible physical problems either, but that’s for another story.) Kirwan does a nice job of pointing out that different approaches work for different people and may not work at all for someone else. Nathan’s military training gives him some expertise in dealing with the unknown and the unexpected. His trauma, though, gives him trouble when he is put in charge of rescuing children. This combination makes for a very strong character.


Kirwan also uses some very strong female characters. Lara is very much Nathan’s equal in strength of character and resolve to get things done. She is also smarter than he is, a fact which he appreciates and values. Other strong female characters are young Sally and a psychiatrist they meet named Raphaela. These women (and girl) are formidable, intelligent, self-sacrificing, and courageous. Sally quickly morphs from being a ten-year-old girl to becoming a leader who cares for the lives of those under her protection. It would be nice to think that when a war comes, children would be spared. Sadly, in both life and in this book, they are often the greatest victims.


When the Children Come is a frenetically paced novel of a war against incredible odds, a battle for the ideals that almost all humans share. It is ultimately a battle for the very survival of our species. It has a bit of the classical sci fi vibe with its “aliens attack the earth” motif, but it is also very modern in its strong female characters and its open acceptance of people with mental and physical disabilities. I really enjoyed this book. When the Children Come


Our thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours for our copy of this book, given in exchange for our honest review. For other perspectives on this book, check out the other bloggers participating in this tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla.


When the Children Come

Book Review: When the Children Come, Barry Kirwan


One thought on “Blog Tour: When the Children Come, Barry Kirwan

  1. Thanks Scintilla for a really great and considered review. So glad you liked the female characters and felt that Nathan’s PTSD complications enriched the story.

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