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Good Girls: Motherless Child #2 (Motherless Children Trilogy) Hardcover – February 23, 2016
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"Set in the immediate aftermath of the justly lauded Motherless Child, this intense novel weaves its themes of love, loss, family obligation, and personal sacrifice into another richly textured tale of supernatural horror." - Publishers Weekly
About the Author
GLEN HIRSHBERG won the Bennett Cerf Prize for Best Fiction at Columbia University. He’s won the Shirley Jackson Award and three International Horror Guild Awards.
Hirshberg has been a five-time finalist for the World Fantasy Award as well as a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. One of his story collections, The Two Sams, was named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly. His novels include The Snowman’s Children, The Book of Bunk, and the first book in the Motherless Children Trilogy, Motherless Child.
More than a decade ago, Hirshberg co-founded the Rolling Darkness Revue, a multi-media experience which incorporates theatrical lighting and live music to illuminate and enhance the Halloween tradition of ghost story readings. Hirshberg continues to perform in the Revue, which is staged each October in the Los Angeles area.
Glen Hirshberg and his family live in Los Angeles, where he teaches high school.
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More and more I find myself becoming disenchanted with the horror genre as a whole—as it all often turns out to be the same trite, sadistic, and mindless nonsense that feeds the angst ridden audience who reads such works—including myself.
However, finally as it seems, I’ve come across a novel that has a little more class, a little more character, and a lot more substance than many a book I’ve read in an exceedingly long time.
Good Girls by Glen Hirshberg is the second novel in a trilogy of books titled The Motherless Children. While the this may be part of a book trilogy the title is advertised as a stand alone work. You, supposedly, do not need to read the previous novel, Motherless Child, to understand this title.
I will get to the validity of this later on in the review.
First, a little about the novel itself. Good Girls is a dark tale about a strange man known only as The Whistler who wreaks havoc among those he encounters. The narrative switches between multiple characters, the main ones being Rebecca, Jess, and Aunt Sally.
Rebecca is a college student who works at the campus crisis call center. She makes it her responsibility to care of others, having been a foster child and being cared for by foster parents her whole life.
Jess is an older woman who has just come out of hell, a hell that I believe began in the previous novel. Jess takes the remnants of her life--after having lost almost everything to the horrors of The Whistler--and moves forward into life.
Aunt Sally and The Whistler are vicious hunters, undead monsters, trying to track down and kill Jess and the final members of her family.
Ultimately, the novel is a grim and enjoyable take on the vampire lore--a welcome entry in a market of romanticized vampires. Ultimately, the novel hearkens back to great vampire novels of the past including Stephen King's Salem's Lot and even the brilliant Dracula by Bram Stoker's.
Good Girls manages to take some very heavy and dark topics and apply them to a collection of very real, very engaging characters. Each of the characters, even the horrific monsters, seem to have some element of humanity about them. This is what sets Good Girls apart. The story is supported far more by the characters themselves, and their humanity, rather than gore.
While Good Girls has its fair amount of gore--well written and visceral gore at that--it ultimately leans on the characters and their choices for substance. Rebecca is by far the best of the characters and is also the most relatable. I often found myself hurrying to get to her sections of the book, wondering what ultimately would happen to her. She is the driving force of the work. The prose in her chapters is also the most natural to follow as a reader.
The other characters also support the story well. However, there seems to be confusion early on in the novel when reading these character's sections. I realized about 4 chapters in that a few of these characters had previously appeared in the the Motherless Child and were therefore carrying on from the events therein.
So, after having read this novel (without reading the first) I would encourage interested readers to go ahead and read the first novel Motherless Child before reading Good Girls. While it may not be necessary, I think that Motherless Child would most likely add a depth of story development that will only enhance the experience already existent in Good Girls.
Good Girls is a reminder of what kind of literary quality it takes to make good suspense and horror. Good Girls returns to the defining elements which authors such as Poe, Lovecraft, and Shirley Jackson set up long ago while also staying true to the modern horror elements set up by masters like King and Straub. Horror is not about gore, violence, sex, and shock. Yet the genre—despite any arguments otherwise—has been distilled down to such. No, horror is about the real mystery and fear of the unbalanced humanity within each of us. Horror is an exploration of fears we can’t quite understand or comprehend—and ultimately it is the redemption of our humanity that is missing from most modern novels. Glen Hirshberg has finally proven that there are still authors who pull out of the mire and tell a truly decent, compelling, and human horror story.
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Top notch writing, enjoyable prose, a twisted and demented story, but I was a bit lost at times. Seems Good Girls is book 2 in the Motherless Children Trilogy. Something the publisher failed to mention when promoting the book. Now that it's for sale to the public, I see that it's listed that way, but it's also being touted as a stand-alone novel. I, personally, would have preferred reading Motherless Child first.
That being said, there is some wonderful story-telling going on here. From the opening line, there's magic in the words...
"In the heart of the hollow, at the mouth of the Delta, the monsters were dancing."
There are some strange goings on in this story, with multiple story-lines tied together deftly, plus there's human curling. I'd love to see that as an Olympic event. It's got to be more exciting than the actual sport.
All-in-all, Glen Hirshberg has written a dark and disturbing tale. My kind of stuff. I'll just have to read Motherless Child before reading book 3 in this series.
Good Girls is published by Tor/Forge and is currently available as an e-book. If you're interested in reading this one, I'd highly recommend you do so after reading Motherless Child.
Glen Hirshberg has won three International Horror Guild Awards (including two for Outstanding Collection), and his novella, The Janus Tree, won the inaugural Shirley Jackson Award in 2008. He also has been a Bram Stoker Award finalist and a five-time World Fantasy Award finalist. While teaching at Cal State San Bernardino and at Campbell Hall in Studio City, he developed the CREW Project, through which he trains his advanced students to run intensive creative writing workshops for secondary and elementary schools that have no programs of their own. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, son, daughter, and cats.
To put it in a nutshell, this is a vampire story. For best results, grab a copy of MC and get filled in on the background. Then read GG and prepare yourself for what is sure to be a kickass finish.
I received my copy of Good Girls from the publisher in exchange for a review.