Review: Good Girls by Glen Hirshberg
Published by Tor Books on February 23rd 2016
Three-time International Horror Guild and Shirley Jackson Award Winner Glen Hirshberg brings his flair for the grim, grisly, and emotionally harrowing to this standalone sequel to Motherless Child.
Reeling from the violent death of her daughter and a confrontation with the Whistler--the monster who wrecked her life--Jess has fled the South for a tiny college town in New Hampshire. There she huddles in a fire-blackened house with her crippled lover, her infant grandson, and the creature that was once her daughter’s best friend, who may or may not be a threat.
Rebecca, an orphan undergrad caring for Jess’s grandson, finds in Jess’ house the promise of a family she has never known, but also a terrifying secret.
Meanwhile, unhinged and unmoored, the Whistler watches from the rooftops and awaits his moment.
And deep in the Mississippi Delta, the evil that spawned him stirs…
Good Girls is the second book in the Motherless Children trilogy by Glen Hirshberg. I haven’t read Motherless Child, the first book in the series, but was assured this one can be read on it’s own as a standalone sequel. Having read it now, I think that, yes, it can be read without having read Motherless Child first, but I suspect my own enjoyment of this story would have been greatly enhanced had I read the first book prior to this one.
One of the storylines in this picks up immediately after something very traumatic and horrific. Like seriously, standing in the carnage type of start to a story. I don’t know for sure, but I felt like this could have been the end of Motherless Child. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to verify this, but I was able to verify some of the characters involved in this scene were primary characters in the first book, so it is definitely possible. Maybe it is just me knowing that there was as story prior to this, and so when we are “dropped into the action”, I can’t help but wonder if this the end of the first book. Either way, I may have had some serious WTF just happened moments with this scene, but it was also something to draw me in and make me wonder just exactly what caused the devastation this story starts with. It gave me compelling reasons to want to read on so I could learn about these characters and figure out exactly what was going on.
There are several perspectives and stories going on in this book. Jess, who lost her daughter and is trying to piece a life together for herself and a few other characters. I really don’t want to reveal much more about Jess’s storyline. We also get the story of Rebecca, an orphaned college student that works in a crisis center. She has a close group of friends that she seems to feel slightly on the outside of, and we also get to see the foster family that cared for her most recently before she moved on to college. Jess and Rebecca are both somewhat broken people (broken in different ways), they are both trying to get through their days. I really enjoyed Rebecca’s sections the most. She was quite likable, her friends were fun and you just wanted to root for her as you could see she really was starting to come into her own. I also worked at a crisis hotline for a while, so that aspect of it was a nice familiarity for me and probably helped me connect with this group even more.
There are also sections with Caribou and Aunt Sally. These are the sections where I really wondered if I was missing something from the previous book. They felt very disjoint from everything else which could just be because they are in a different location and are completely different from our human protagonists, but also felt like maybe it was because I was missing a bit more of the story. Caribou and Aunt Sally live in a camp full of “monsters” (and are, in fact, monsters themselves). I felt like these sections should be quite interesting, but I hate to admit, I felt my attention waver almost every time I read a Caribou and Aunt Sally section. I could see how they might tie into the other story lines and later in the book it becomes clearer how they will fit in, but I somehow never felt very interested or vested in Caribou or Aunt Sally.
And then there is The Whistler. The monster that ties them all together. The monsters are never labeled as anything more specific, but you will find them quite familiar and will be able to come up with a label for them yourself. But I will leave that to the reader as I always enjoy knowing as little as possible about monsters. It’s just more fun that way. The Whistler provides some seriously creepy and eerie scenes. And some gore as well, though it never felt like gore for the sake of gore. And The Whistler is also good for the bringing in the unexpected.
Even though there were times where I did feel maybe I should know a bit more history than I did, I was able to enjoy this one in the end. Everything did come together, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have connected more had I read Motherless Child first. No matter what, it is clear that Hirshberg is able to craft a very compelling
This review was originally posted on The Speculative Herald.