Motherless Child

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Motherless Child (Halloween 2012)
A novel by Glen Hirshberg

Art by Vincent Chong



Halloween series



Another vampire novel? Really?

How about a vampire novel about single motherhood? And Otis Redding? And best friends? And how you choose whom you kill? And what that costs? And whether there’s ever a way back?

On a rare night out in Charlotte, North Carolina, Natalie and Sophie — best friends, single moms, music lovers — meet the Whistler at the Back Way Out. In the aftermath of that encounter, desperate to save their children and, just maybe, themselves, they flee together down the back roads of the Deep South, pursued by guilt, the Whistler and his Mother, and their own growing, terrible hunger.

Bloody, sexy, rollicking, and sad, Motherless Child is a road novel about finding a way back to a home that no longer exists, a paean to music that drives us out of ourselves, a howling joyride toward heartbreak, and just maybe the vampire novel you really haven’t yet read: the human one.

500 numbered copies signed by Hirshberg, $40


15 lettered, traycased hardcovers, book and traycase completely hand made using the finest materials, signed by all contributors on an illustrated limitation sheet, $350 Inquire about a
Lettered Copy
The trade hardcover of MOTHERLESS CHILD is now available through Amazon (not an Earthling book). Motherless Child

"Hirshberg is an amazing writer who makes the materials of horror into what they were supposed to be all along-grandly sweeping, capable of tremendous reach, and open to all aspects of human experience. Motherless Child shows him at the peak of his form."
— Peter Straub

"A subversive, thrilling novel that subverts everything we've come to expect from tales that traffic in the undead, Motherless Child is as heartbreaking as it is terrifying, a breakneck midnight ride through a part of America too seldom visited in fiction. It's Glen Hirshberg as his best, and I can offer no higher praise than that."
— Elizabeth Hand, author of Generation Loss

"A compelling tale of the supernatural that gives it a human face. Beautifully written, it reinvents one of the inconic monsters in ways that are both classical and up to the minute. We can be sure horror fiction is still vital when it's reimagined as freshly and vigorously as this."
— Ramsey Campbell, author of Ghosts Know and The Darkest Part of the Woods

"Despite a conventional wisdom that has ruled the vampire no longer a fit subject for novels of supernatural horror... the past few years have brought a number of works that have demonstrated the figure's continuing power...With Motherless Child, Glen Hirshberg has also demonstrated that, in the hands of a sufficiently talented writer, there is no figure that is past its prime. Always one of his generation's finest stylists, its most able students of character, he has written one of the best books of the year."
— John Langan, The Los Angeles Review of Books

"...this book is the front-runner for when I pick my best horror novel of 2012. The vampire novel has survived TWILIGHT and is dead and kicking as ever, and it will remain so as long as there are writers of Hirshberg's caliber to ring new changes on this venerable archetype."
Black Static

"I must admit that I have often wished that we could declare a moratorium on vampire novels. Generally I inelegantly express this sentiment just before another work comes out that proves me wrong. And here I am, doing so once again just as we're blessed with Glen Hirshberg's Motherless Child, a superbly gritty and intense novel that neither knows nor cares about genres, literary or vampire. Hirshberg is the sort of author who brings an authentic voice of the sort of people you might know, caught up in circumstances beyond our imaginations, to the printed page. Natalie and Sophie, single mothers, meet the Whistler - and his mother. It proves to be unfortunate for all concerned, other than the reader who will be gripped with the white-hot fury of Hirshberg's ability to write great prose, great characters, and great sleaze in a novel that makes you feel. He peels away the American dreams of motherhood and rock and roll to their bloody core. He writes as if possessed by a falling angel. And he brings a genre that deserves to die to shuddering, bloody life. He's probably damned by all this, but readers won't give a damn. A great novel about vampires is a great novel. Put a stake through it."
— Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column

"Motherless Child moves at a crackling pace, mixing road novel with buddy story (and female buddies, at that) and adding a healthy dollop of good old-fashioned horror. From its striking cover art to its somber last page, it's a vampire novel that deserves your attention."
— Robert Morrish, Twilight Ridge and Cemetery Dance Magazine

"The novel teases out a challenging portrait of how love drives and undoes us. Mothers shape and save and swallow their children. Throughout, desire for deep connection moves characters to action, yet the tragedy of the vampire is that such desire can only be realized as hunger...It's a bravura performance."

" Hirshberg (The Book of Bunk) weaves love, desire, revenge, loyalty, and sacrifice into a blockbuster narrative. Natalie and Sophie, sassy North Carolina moms with young children, encounter the Whistler, who turns them into vampires. Clinging to humanity, Natalie tells her widowed mother, Jess, to flee with both women's kids. The Whistler's infatuation with Natalie, his "Destiny," leads him to track down her child as bait to ensure that she will complete her transformation to immortality as his vampiric companion. Angered by the loss of the Whistler's affection, his companion, Mother, forges her own plots. Hirshberg's adept characterization engages the reader's sympathies for Natalie and Sophie as they fight the pangs of vampiric hunger and yearn for their absent children. His depiction of Jess in her dogged, self-sacrificial adherence to Natalie's request evokes Faulknerian depth. The clash of human and vampire worlds in the tumultuous final showdown presents a satisfying, startling, conclusion and infuses this work with both literary and genre merit."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The back cover copy of Motherless Child reads "Another vampire novel? Really?"...Well, if it's as well-written as this novel, then, YES, another Vampire novel. Hirshberg's story uses Vampirism as the mcguffin that drives  the narrative, which is, at it's core, a heartbreaking exploration of friendship, motherhood, love, loss, and loyalty. The characters of Sophie and Natalie are incredibly well-realized; Their friendship feels real, and is filled with the little quirks and shorthands that you would expect to find in people that have been together for most of their lives. The Whistler and Mother are presented more as forces of nature than villains, lending their actions a kind of otherworldly lack of conscience....They do what they do because, at this point, it's all they know. The thought of a change in their lifestyle is both exciting and terrifying at the same time, and each is willing to do anything to get their way. Motherless Child is a staggeringly good novel, and if I had any complaint, it's that it ended too soon. Highly recommended.

"This is not a romantic tale of catlike eyes in the dark, or a feel-the-sin tale of rotting meat scents and tallow skin. There are no fangs, no flying and no bats, but the visual sense Hirshberg develops is astounding. He creates vivid environments where you can feel the sticky heat of a Waffle House on one page and sense the dull taste of overchewed bubble gum on the next. Natalie and Sophie are relatable both individually and in their relationship to each other; it's wonderful to read a moment where a girl removes a neck tendon from her injured friend's mouth, gently admonishing her, "Honey, don't do that," and know exactly how she feels."

"Even if you've sworn to yourself never to read vampire fiction again, do yourself the favor of reading Motherless Child. Glen Hirshberg has crafted a compelling, heartbreaking thriller full of character, grit, and sorrow. Bravo."  
Christopher Golden

"Like an alchemist loose in a meth lab, Hirshberg produces rocket-fuelled gold in his magnificent Motherless Child; a sui generis mash-up of literary sensibility and B-movie energy, a shotgun wedding of the melancholy and the menacing, the meditative and the monstrous."  
Peter Atkins