Book Review: The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

This is amongst the most intriguing of Wyndham’s work with a lot of subtext to mull over in such a short work. In some schools in the UK, it is still a set text, probably for that reason.

The idea is simple and familiar to anybody who has seen either of the films that it spawned (Village of the Damned). An invisible shield prevents people from entering a certain village. Aerial recon shows that everybody inside is asleep. After several days they wake up… and life carries on as normal… until, that is, the women start to realise that they are all pregnant.

When the children are born it is noticed that they do not resemble their parents, but they do resemble each other. Furthermore it is gradually revealed that there is some sort of telepathic communication between them. Despite the horror films, in the books the children do not attack anybody unprovoked.

I’m still in two minds whether this book is a critique of Communism, or of the irrational fear of Communism, or the irrational fear of new ideas. A central theme of this book is what it means to be individual against a collective mind. Unlike the horror movies it spawned this is a very human story that makes you look at certain situations from a different point of view. In that way it is very much like Day of the Triffids. Highly recommended read.

4/5

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