My favorite books about sweet children with terrifying powers

Why am I passionate about this?

I write imaginative fiction in worlds mostly looking like ours. I’m deeply interested in character as well as ideas. Writers must be careful handing out great power, as it can wreck the sense of peril. In Our Child of the Stars, Cory is innocent, enormously kind, engaging, and lovable. He brings his new family into many dangers. One power is first used to save his parents, not understanding the terrible harm it will do. His empathy makes it horrific to use. ‘Sweet kids, terrible powers’ means the bad guys can get their comeuppance but only rarely. Keep compassion key, keep the powers a last resort, and keep the readers guessing.


I wrote...

Our Child of the Stars

By Stephen Cox,

Book cover of Our Child of the Stars

What is my book about?

The USA, in the time of Woodstock and the Moon landings. Childless couple Gene and Molly have been through dark times, then the Meteor strikes their small town. They adopt an orphaned boy from the stars and call him Cory, forming a deeply loving family. How can they keep him safe unless they keep him a secret?  Danger soon comes both on Earth, and from the stars.  Cory reveals unexpected talents, and the family is driven to flee…

Reviewers called it “heartfelt, imaginative and gripping”. The LA Times said, "...a wonderfully emotional, heart-warming journey of what it really means to be a parent". Sequel - Our Child of Two Worlds. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Firestarter

Stephen Cox Why did I love this book?

Andy and his sweet daughter Charlie are on the run from a cynical and unaccountable agency, the Shop. As students, Andy and Vicky took part in an unethical government experiment that gave them psychic powers – when Charlie is born, she turns out to have an even greater power, creating fire with her mind. The Shop tries to snatch them, and Vicky is killed. What makes the story shine is how adorable Charlie is and the lengths to which Andy goes to protect her. He has taught her to shun her power, and yet in life and death situations, she has no other choice to save her dad. The book ends with Charlie making a smart decision on how to make things right. A powerful influence on my writing.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Firestarter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Master storyteller Stephen King presents the classic #1 New York Timesbestseller—now a major motion picture!

Andy McGee and Vicky Tomlinson were once college students looking to make some extra cash, volunteering as test subjects for an experiment orchestrated by the clandestine government organization known as The Shop. But the outcome unlocked exceptional latent psychic talents for the two of them—manifesting in even more terrifying ways when they fell in love and had a child. Their daughter, Charlie, has been gifted with the most extraordinary and uncontrollable power ever seen—pyrokinesis, the ability to create fire with her mind. Now the merciless…


Book cover of The Girl With All the Gifts

Stephen Cox Why did I love this book?

Melanie lives in an underground bunker, where all the children are brought to the schoolroom chained by armed guards. She is full of life, curiosity, and empathy, adoring inspirational teacher Helen Justineau. Turns out, society has been destroyed by an infection that turns humans into frenzied ‘hungries’ – Melanie and the children are a new smarter variant of hungries, and scientist Caroline Caldwell will stop at nothing to find a cure. When the base is overrun, Melanie’s brains and fighting skills become key to the small group of human survivors. This gripping and empathic post-apocalypse story has us cheering for a heroine who can go into a flesh-eating frenzy. Brilliant characterisation, a horrifying villain, and stark ethical dilemmas are topped by a stunning, unforgettable finale. 

By M.R. Carey,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Girl With All the Gifts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'ORIGINAL, THRILLING AND POWERFUL' - Guardian
'HAUNTING, HEARTHBREAKING' - Vogue
The phenomenal million-copy bestseller that is also a BAFTA Award-nominated movie

NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the…


Book cover of The Golden Apples of the Sun

Stephen Cox Why did I love this book?

This is a brilliant collection of imaginative stories – diverse in genre and subject charming, nostalgic, and poetic. In" The April Witch," Cecy is a romantic, naïve girl kept from the world by her magical family. She can slip into any living thing and experience flight as a bird or swimming like a fish. This becomes terrible when she follows her feelings. She takes over Ann and gets her to flirt with older Tom who Cecy fancies, makes Ann dance with him, and then Ann must pressurise Tom to promise to call on Cecy. Ann is frightened and humiliated, but she does get to draw the line sometimes. Is this a horror story, can we really excuse this through Cecy’s naivety? Bradbury is dark behind the sweet.

By Ray D. Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Golden Apples of the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ray Bradbury is a modern cultural treasure. His disarming simplicity of style underlies a towering body of work unmatched in metaphorical power by any other American storyteller. And here, presented in a new trade edition, are thirty-two of his most famous tales--prime examples of the poignant and mysterious poetry which Bradbury uniquely uncovers in the depths of the human soul, the otherwordly portraits of outré fascination which spring from the canvas of one of the century's great men of imagination. From a lonely coastal lighthouse to a sixty-million-year-old safary, from the pouring rain of Venus to the ominous silence of…


Book cover of Matilda

Stephen Cox Why did I love this book?

A children’s book, film, and musical. Matilda is born to abusive, neglectful, crooked parents, who deprive her of fun, particularly books. School brings wider horizons, and telekinetic powers, but the school is terrorised by the ghastly Miss Trunchbull, who abuses children, and oppresses the delightful form teacher, Miss Honey. With Dahl you know payback is coming, and here book and film diverge. In the film, Matilda goes all Carrie on Trunchbull, using her telekinesis to throw her around. In the book it is more subtle – Matilda uses telekinesis to write a message revealing Trunchbull’s secrets, as if from beyond the grave. Guilty conscience alone gets the monster off the scene. Some of Matilda’s jokes are cruel, but no list on this topic could be complete without her.

By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Matilda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Puffin Audiobooks presents Roald Dahl's Matilda, read by Kate Winslet. This audiobook features original music and sound design by Pinewood film studios.

Matilda Wormwood is an extraordinary genius with really stupid parents.

Miss Trunchbull is her terrifying headmistress who thinks all her pupils are rotten little stinkers.

But Matilda will show these horrible grown-ups that even though she's only small, she's got some very powerful tricks up her sleeve . . .

Kate Winslet's award-winning and varied career has included standout roles in Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Finding Neverland, Revolutionary Road and The Reader, for which she…


Book cover of Good Omens

Stephen Cox Why did I love this book?

Good Omens is the ancient struggle between Good and Evil, written for delightful comic effect. Evil plans to rear a diabolic child as the Antichrist but loses him… As Adam, he is reared in a country village by an ordinary couple, being the optimistic and opinionated leader of a small gang with dogs. Amiable, often in mild trouble, he’s clearly modeled on Richmal Compton’s William, except he’s also evil incarnate. As Apocalypse looms, Adam starts to rework the world with his satanic power, starting daft but soon terrifying. In the end, his love for his friends and common sense win out. Very funny and thought-provoking, not least in looking at what we actually do, not which ethical team Good or Evil we claim to be supporting.

By Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Good Omens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE BOOK BEHIND THE AMAZON PRIME/BBC SERIES STARRING DAVID TENNANT, MICHAEL SHEEN, JON HAMM AND BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

'Ridiculously inventive and gloriously funny' Guardian

What if, for once, the predictions are right, and the Apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?

It's a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon, now find themselves in. They've been living amongst Earth's mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.

And then there's the small…


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Trans-Mongolian Express

By David L. Robbins,

Book cover of Trans-Mongolian Express

David L. Robbins Author Of War of the Rats

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve penned (so far) seventeen novels, most set during some historical conflict or other, all of them revolving around intense personal relationships (loyalty, love, betrayal, those sorts of profound truths). I tend to read the sorts of books I wish to write. I also teach creative writing at a university (VCU); I tell my students that if they want to really know what a character is made of, shoot at them or have them fall in love. In my own work, I do both.

David's book list on love and war and describing both battlefields

What is my book about?

In the harrowing aftermath of Chornobyl's meltdown in 1986, the fate of Eastern Europe hangs by a thread.

From Beijing, American radiation scientist Lara, once a thorn in the Russian mob's side, is drawn back into the shadows of the Soviet Union on the Trans-Mongolian Express. She isn't alone. Anton, a Soviet scientist exiled for predicting Chornobyl's catastrophe, is on a quest to expose the truth. Amidst them, Timur, a Chechen giant fueled by vengeance, plots to destroy the already crumbling Soviet Union.

Suddenly, a murder on the remote tracks of the Gobi thrusts them into a deadly game of cat and mouse. As Chief Sheriff Bat races to solve the murder, their lives are thrown into jeopardy. Lara finds an unexpected ally in Gang, a reluctant assassin sent to end her life, and an illicit romance blooms amidst the chaos. But Gang isn't the only killer onboard. A hidden menace lurks, threatening to unravel all their plans.

In this electrifying ride across a historical backdrop, suspense and passion collide in an unyielding dance of survival and redemption. Who will survive the Trans-Mongolian Express?

Trans-Mongolian Express

By David L. Robbins,

What is this book about?

In the harrowing aftermath of Chernobyl's meltdown in 1986, the fate of Eastern Europe hangs by a thread.

From Beijing, American radiation scientist Lara, once a thorn in the Russian mob's side, is drawn back into the shadows of the Soviet Union on the Trans-Mongolian Express. She isn't alone. Anton, a Soviet scientist exiled for predicting Chernobyl's catastrophe, is on a quest to expose the truth. Amidst them, Timur, a Chechen giant fueled by vengeance, plots to destroy the already crumbling Soviet Union.

Suddenly, a murder on the remote tracks of the Gobi thrusts them into a deadly game of…


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