Cover Image: Children of Chicago

Children of Chicago

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Member Reviews

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. It was...okay. I would definitely give this author another try, but the book felt a bit disjointed, almost like it was a sequel. I felt like I was missing a lot of information. That could have been intentional, but in this case it didn't hit the mark for me. The idea was fantastic just a little weak on execution, for me. But like I said, I would read the next book by this author, there's great promise there.
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A good mix of horror and police procedural that kept me hooked.
I liked the excellent world building, the good character development and the solid plot.
It's the first book I read by this author and won't surely be the last.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I'm a fan of dark fairy tales, so this one is right up my alley. It took me a while to really get into it, but I'm glad I stuck with it because it finishes strong. I enjoyed it overall and look forward to more from Cynthia Pelayo. Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC.
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Mixing police procedurals with fairytales is a tricky balancing act which Cynthia Pelayo attempts in her novel Children Of Chicago, which looks to be the first of a series.

Pelayo takes the fairytale of the Pied Piper and although sinister to begin with, takes it to a whole new level and makes the character pretty terrifying.

We follow the journey of Officer Lauren Medina, a woman haunted by her past and struggling in the present. From the outset it is clear that Lauren is an unreliable narrator, but this does not discount from her journey during this book.

Pelayo also mixes in some cultural sub-text of Chicago itself, which only enriches the story and adds another layer of mystery to what is going on.

While the book’s conclusion may be in part, telegraphed by the mid-point this does not take away from the gut punch it provides.

It will certainly be interesting to see where Pelayo takes this series next.

Children of Chicago is available now from Agora Books.
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I started reading this book thinking it was just another crime thriller. It turned out to be a paranormal read, and I really enjoyed it! 

A bunch of murders are happening in Chicago, involving children. Detective Lauren Medina tries to figure out why it's happening and by whom, all the while getting flashbacks to her very own childhood trauma involving her murdered sister, Marie. Apparently the Pied Piper is involved, but how? And why?

I really liked the weaving of folktales/fairytales (there's actually a difference between the two) into the storyline, and discovering that Chicago is steeped in its own history of folktales. I also found out that a Master's in Library Science actually exists in the world! What have I been doing all my life! 

A solid psychological paranormal thriller. Makes you want to reread Grimms' book of fairytales all over again through adult eyes and try to read between the lines of what actually happened in all the stories. 

Many thanks to the publisher, Agora Books, and the author for the ARC!
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I tried really hard to get into this book, but it just wasn't working for me.
I'm not going to go into much detail, but the main character is very unlikeable which isn't usually an issue for me, but something felt off about reading about a crooked cop and the story was mostly about her instead of the mysterious Pied Piper.
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At 34% I’m deciding to DNF this. I’m having a real hard time following the storyline. I’m enjoying the creepy tone throughout but unfortunately I’m too confused and not interested enough to continue.
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I received a free advance readers' copy and am voluntarily leaving this review...

Children of Chicago started like an ordinary police thriller. There was a gang shooting and the main character, Detective Lauren Medina, was tasked with finding the suspect. But then the detective notices a calling card and realizes that may be the work of a great evil from her own past. Another teenager is killed in the same lagoon her own sister died in years ago and she realizes it definitely is the Pied Piper. And he's here to collect what she owes him.. She now has to balance protecting the city and paying back the Pied Piper. 

I liked the effort the author made to describe all of Chicago's sights and sounds. Her love for fairytales also shone through in this book. As someone who has researched the true Grimm tales, it was a pleasure to see how well she knew her stuff.

The pacing was a bit slow for me though and I felt like there wasn't enough of the fairytales and horror within this story. There were hints and teasers throughout but I felt like there were some opportunities within the book that the author missed out on. However, it was still a good story. I wouldn't mind reading another book by this author. 

Due to some blood and gore, this book should be read by older teens and adults
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This novel presented us with a unique opportunity; to answer the question on all of our minds—what would happen if the Pied Piper came to Chicago? I know, this question has been plaguing you too. Well, look no further, because he’s/it’s here! 

Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo follows a rookie detective as she attempts to solve a series of suspicious child murders in Chicago’s inner city. Found at each crime scene is a simple message—“pay the Piper”, leading Detective Medina to believe that there’s more to these murders than meets the eye, and sinister forces are afoot. Obviously Detective Medina’s got a connection to these murders, and obviously she’s a tortured and cantankerous maverick, who alone can solve the Pied Piper case. 

Fans of Chicago—this is your moment! What a time to be alive! As a resident of the Chicagoland area, I really appreciated Cynthia Pelayo’s clear adoration for the city and its history. This book is so well-researched and informative, and to be honest, really made me want to revisit allllll of Chicago’s coffee houses; Intelligentsia, I’m coming beebee.

I also really appreciated Pelayo’s obvious love of fairy tales. The premise put forward by Children of Chicago was so compelling, because it took a time-worn tale and spun it into something utterly novel and yet familiar. Generally-speaking, every child has at least dipped their toes into the grim world of fairy tales, so this book felt like returning home, all grown up.

My critiques are relatively minor. I felt that Pelayo seemed to struggle to create characters that were beyond literary archetypes. It often seemed that in lieu of genuine character development, characters like Detective Medina fell back on predictable ‘tortured detective in search of righteousness’ tropes. This was a small irritance across the board, but really didn’t affect the story too negatively, and honestly, maybe this is just a me problem. Like most things.

The other thing that threw me for a loop was pacing. Pelayo meticulously crafted her fairy tale version of Chicago so carefully and slowly for the first 9/10’s of the book, that when we got to the end, tying up loose ends and answering all questions felt a bit rushed. This broke the immersion for me a bit as it did feel somewhat jarring. Again, maybe a me problem. 

In his book, The Great Cat Massacre, historian Robert Darnton spends some time discussing the cultural valence of fairy tales. He argues that fairy tales—the real ones, and not the twisted Disney versions (no shade to Disney)—served as a way for peasants to make sense of and navigate a hazardous and unforgiving world. From the beginning of Children of Chicago, it’s clear that Pelayo knows her stuff. She has taken an old fairy tale, The Pied Piper, and superimposed its lessons onto the experience of growing up in modern-day Chicago.  The best part is that this book is AWARE that it’s doing this, so what we are left with is a gorgeous exploration of the continued prescience of fairy tales.

I really want to thank the author, publisher, and Netgalley for giving me a chance to review such an enjoyable book! I will be looking for Pelayo's work in the future!
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I received an advance copy of, Children of Chicago, by Cynthia Pelayo. Is the Pied Piper back?  Murder in Chicago is nothing new unfortunately.  This  is a gritty novel about a crime in Chicago.  Its a good book.
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3.5 Stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Agora Books for an advanced review copy of this novel.

The Pied Piper is in town. He's leaving his mark, and the children of Chicago are dying.

Lauren Medina is a detective with a chip on her shoulder, quick to anger and quick to shoot. She's running entirely on coffee and rage. When Medina see's the Pied Piper's tag, she starts to spiral. Her father's just died, her partner's retiring, and she knows more about the Piper than she wants anyone to know. 

She'll do anything to protect her secret. You always have to pay the piper, and the price may just be your life.

At it's heart this is a love story to Chicago. You can tell that Pelayo spent a lot of time and care into giving you the history of the city she loves. I will say that at times it is in sacrifice to the story.

My issues with the novel is I wanted more of everything, so the story was just a little thin. More horror, more history, more of the fairy tales. 

This is the second novel that mentions Guava Cheese tarts I've read this year, and I'm DYING to try one. Why do we not have a Puerto Rican bakery in Toronto?
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Unfortunately, this book is not for me,  As a devotee of literary fiction, quality and style is as important as plot.  The action and story in Children of Chicago is satisfactory and original.  However, the quality of writing feels very amateur.  I found this surprising as I understand the author is a poet of some renown.  Perhaps my ARC is an early version.
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I wanted to read this book since it is set in Chicago and I am a Chicagoan. Not my normal genre and I wasn’t disappointed. Lauren Medina is a workaholic Chicago cop, following in her father’s footsteps. She is involved in solving murders of teenagers in Humboldt Park, but there is evil undercurrents. Has the fairy tale Pied Piper come to life? There is at every murder the name written nearby and Lauren is having flashbacks to when she was a teenager and her little sister was found dead at the same park. She has blocked out that time and has no memory of it, even though she she found a mile away from the lagoon where her sister drowned.
This story would be great on  Criminal Minds. Love the way one also is getting little know facts of Chicago history, I did learn a few new things. I could picture though the description the city and I haven’t lived it Chicago in over 30 years. The fairy tale twist is very unique, reminds one that the majority of fairy tales were dark. The ending truly was a surprise. Give it a read, you will not be disappointed.
 I am voluntarily posting an honest review after reading an Advance Reader Copy of this story.
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The story of the Pied Piper should be familiar, but if it isn’t - the story is of a man who stole children away from a town, by luring them with the irresistible magic of a flute. The children are never seen again. This is a modern retelling taking place in the crime-ridden inner city of Chicago. 

There is minority representation, which is great and integral to Chicago’s history. There’s also the discussion of police brutality that was well handled. Some murders that seem familiar to the main character have started happening again. Despite this original spin, the book can be predictable and fall flat at times. However it is also deliciously darkly themed, to the point of showing dead children. There are mentions of fairytales easily woven into the story, and the book itself reads well. It’s an easy flow and not difficult to follow, so I would suggest this to a young adult reader.  However I would warn if you are sensitive to the themes described. 

The main character, Lauren, coming from the perspective of a detective sees things very black and white. She believes there has to be a bad guy and a good guy in every situation, no in between. I liked her, though sometimes her emotion couldn’t reach me. Overall this is a fun read, if light - more for passive reading! 

I want to sincerely thank the publisher and Netgalley, who provided me a ARC for this review.
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Detective Medina seems to suffer one loss after another. Starting with the mystery of her mothers disappearance.  Followed by the tragic events of her sister, her stepmother and father. With no time to really mourn her recently deceased family member, work calls! She needs to find out why a few from a local HS are dead and why they all seem to connect to someone they call "The Pied Piper". 
I enjoyed the connection to Grimms Fairy Tales, local history and somewhat current events.

I almost passed this up ..... being a Chicago Native (East Village & NW Side) I tend to have a cavalier attitude when it comes to stories based in Chicago. However, Pelayo had an authentic layout. I could literally visualize the setting, which is probably why I enjoyed this story so much! Bonus points for mentions of slightly similar infamous cases hailing from Chicago. 
This is my first read by Pelayo but it won't be my last!
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Have you ever heard the story of the Pied Piper, the man who helped a town and was denied payment so in return he took the children of the town. As children we always think of fairytales as stories who tend to end in happily ever after, but f we look back to the original stories they tend to be a lot darker than that. Detective Lauren Medina is someone who knows exactly just how dark and scary the bogeyman from those old stories can be, especially after not only experiencing loss in her personal life, but when the tagging of the Pied Piper starts appearing around town at the crime scenes of teenagers. Lauren knows that something dark has been unleashed in the city of Chicago, and that it will stop at nothing to get payment including taking the city's children. 
This book was the perfect mix of horror, dark imagery and mystery. I am a huge fan of fairytale retellings specially when they take a darker turn so if you enjoy that kind of book or want to explore it, I definitely recommend.
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The modern twist of Pied Piper was interesting. It defiantly had some dark and horror aspects to it that were good and added heart pounding moments. However the ending did not tie up the investigation but it also was not set up as if there would be more to the story. Having a Latinx character / detective was something I really enjoyed. The author did a good Job giving us a back story to the main character and an inside to her thought process.
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It's been years and the murders are happening again. After finding Grimms Fairly Tales at the scene of a crime, Detective Medina knows that something strange is happening and it's not going to stop unless she can figure it out. Children are going missing, presumed murdered, and it's a little too close to what happened when Medina was a child. There were a few times in the book where I really wanted them to get to the point. There was a lot of information given that felt poorly weaved into the story but overall the story was very interesting. Warning: This story is very graphic and deals with children, violence, and death. 

3/5 Stars

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Actual rating: 2.5 stars

Sadly, I didn't end up enjoying this as much as I hoped. I really liked the fairy tale aspects of this, especially because it's a darker take on things. I haven't read too much about the Pied Piper, so this was really interesting to explore this lore. I also liked how it feels like an urban legend like Bloody Mary. There are a few creepy moments as well!

Unfortunately, I thought there was way too much unnecessary info dumping with background information. I do enjoy learning about the Brothers Grimm and the background of fairy tales, so these parts were somewhat interesting. However, I just didn't particularly care for the details about the history of Chicago, especially with the buildings. In general, these sections really took away from the main investigation. There were also some choppy timelines and dialogue, and I didn't particularly like any of the characters.

I'm so bummed that this didn't work for me! I think I would have enjoyed it more as a novella without all the background information.

I received a copy of this for review from the publisher via NetGalley - thank you! All opinions are my own.

My video review can be seen on my channel (around minutes 0:31-2:57 of this video):
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Wow, this book was much darker than I thought it was going to be... and I loved it! I mean, it's about the Pied Piper, so I should have known it was going to be grim.
The characters were done so well, as was the dialog. There were moments of terror (like when one kid is laughing like a maniac when she certainly shouldn't be), some bloody goodness, and enough mystery to keep me turning the (Kindle) pages like a madman.

Children of Chicago was my first read from Cynthia Pelayo, but it will not be my last.
Definitely recommend this one to you horror creeps out there!
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