260 pages, Signed Limited Edition of 500 ($40), 2012
Shirley Jackson Award-winning author Glen Hirshberg returns with what may be his best — and is certainly his most unique—novel. Motherless Child from Earthling Publications is a vampire tale, but it’s like no vampire story you’ve read before. After a night out on the town, young mothers and best friends, Natalie and Sophie, wake covered in blood and, somehow, different. Neither can truly remember the night before, except that it involved a travelling musician called the Whistler. Now, as a hunger grows inside them and they begin to piece together what happened to them, they flee their children, mothers, jobs, and lives in a desperate attempt to protect everyone they love. But the Whistler isn’t through with them, and their families aren’t safe.
As he has shown in his collections, The Two Sams, The Janus Tree, and American Morons, and his novels, The Book of Bunk and The Snowman’s Children, Hirshberg has a knack for subtlety, dread, and a wonderful imagination for playing on horror’s oldest and most well-known tropes. The vampires in Motherless Child aren’t like those you’re used to. They’re different, but subtly different. He twists each “rule” just enough to make it unique, but not enough to leave it unidentifiable, because that’s not the point of this story. Throughout, his prose is, as always, wonderfully evocative and fully realized. He uses metaphor and simile to enhance not only the character, tone, and atmosphere, but also the setting and tension. Every aspect of the story works to create a unifying effect rarely seen — or at least rarely seen done this well — in any novel in any genre. This is Hirshberg’s best writing to date, and that is, as you know if you’ve read him, quite a compliment.
Equal parts road novel, McCammon-esque southern horror, King-ian exploration of the depth of friendship, and a study of family and sacrifice worthy of Gary Braunbeck, Motherless Child is sure to appeal to any horror fan—or any fan of good writing and good stories—out there. This is a deep novel, a novel that makes you think, but at the same time, it’s a fun novel and a novel that makes you feel. For fans of Hirshberg, this is one more masterpiece to add to your collection; for everyone else, this is an introduction to a horror writer who is one of the best working today and possibly one of the best ever.