- Author: Gary A. Braunbeck
- Artist: Deena Warner
- Page Count: 304
- Pub. Date: October 2006
- ISBN: 1-58767-109-3
- Status: Out of Print
by Gary A. Braunbeck
About the Book:
From award-winning author Gary A. Braunbeck comes Prodigal Blues, his first foray into non-supernatural horror.
After he finds himself stranded at a truck stop in Missouri, Mark Sieber gets one of the biggest shocks of his life when he recognizes the face of a little girl on a Missing poster as belonging to the same little girl he saw only a few minutes before. Looking around for some sign of her, he comes back to his table in the restaurant to find the little girl sitting there, waiting for him.
"I'm sorry, mister," is all she seems capable of saying.
As the police and media begin to converge on the truck stop, Mark retreats back to his hotel room to call his wife and let her know what's going on, only to be taken hostage by the same people who released the little girl. But his abductors are little more than children themselves.
Ranging in ages from 12 to 19, Mark's abductors are in the process of escaping from a sadistic pedophile known to them only as "Grendel" — a man whose practices include torture and mutilation — specifically, mutilation of the face.
Mark's abductors have all been mutilated by Grendel — who may be very close behind them — and need someone with a "normal face" to help them carry out their plan for justice and returning home.
For the next few days, Mark will come to understand not only the inhuman horror that these children have suffered, but how they eventually learned to fight back — and how they discovered that Grendel and his practices are at the center of a very complex network catering to those who tastes run toward the molestation and mutilation of children.
Prodigal Blues is perhaps Braunbeck's most suspenseful and emotionally powerful work to date; a story of suffering, depravity, redemption, and — in the end — the individual's compassion for his or her fellow human beings that can lead some people to finding reserves of courage and determination they never thought they possessed.
Terrifying, suspenseful, sometimes surprisingly funny, and ultimately moving, Prodigal Blues is quintessential Braunbeck.
"Gary A. Braunbeck ventures into nonsupernatural horror terroritory
with Prodigal Blues. This tale of a sadistic tracer of abducted children
who suffer loss of limbs and other cruel disfigurements is recommended only
for the strong of stomach."
— Publishers Weekly
"This is a poignant cautionary thriller that grips readers from the moment
the hero is abducted and never slows down until the final twist."
—Midwest Book Review
"5 stars...this is, by far, superior to anything and everything he's ever
done before. I will never look at a crying child the same again. Why does he
get a 5?... for making me wipe angry tears of distraught empathy off the visage
that had become statuesque in my fevered attempt to read, absorb, and become
part of the symphonic beauty that lies between the covers of Prodigal Blues."
"A toe-tapping tale of terror... Prodigal Blues is good enough that you
might feel scarred after reading it. But in the end, it is that good. And it
is really the first non-supernatural novel by Braunbeck, but one hopes not the
last. As ever, Cemetery Dance puts together a wonderful hardcover novel. Deena
Warner's illustrations are plentiful, dark and suggestive. They ratchet up the
level of disturbance and move the story but are tastefully rendered. Braunbeck's
been hitting the paperback racks with his novels of the supernatural, but there's
real potential for him to eke his way into the mainstream without ever really
becoming mainstream. No, Braubeck is definitely not mainstream fiction. He's
more like the big, solid rock that sits in the middle of the river. Always there.
— The Agony Column
"Prodigal Blues is a literary bonesaw, carving you to the core
and leaving you as emotionally exposed as the protagonist... It's simply the
best book you will read this year."
— Horror World
"Prodigal Blues is a disturbing novel. It deals with the most
vicious forms of abuse and molestation of the young. To describe in detail the
bare bones of what transpires to several youths in this novel would be excruciating.
And Gary does not flinch one bit from the horrors in it. Yet he imbues the story
with such tenderness that it is impossible to not feel a sense of joy. Prodigal Bluesdemonstrates humankind's obstinate ability to maintain dignity, compassion
and even a sense of wit in even the most dire circumstances...Wiser folks than
I have called Gary Braunbeck the best writer of his generation and after reading Prodigal Blues, I cannot argue that point."
"Braunbeck's prose flows like mercury blossoming across a marble floor:
it's mesmerizing and hypnotic, to the point you have no idea you're
even reading—you're just in the moment the whole time...this is
a damn near flawless book. Braunbeck hits you hard in the heart with this one."
"Touching on love, friendship, horrors beyond imagining, with wonderful
illustrations by Deena Warner, Prodigal Blues brings us home, in the
end, to hope, and hope's really why we, as a species, open our weary eyes every
morning and plug on, isn't it?"
— The Horror Fiction Review
"Prodigal Blues is uncompromisingly brutal, brutally honest,
and quite honestly one of the most compelling and heart-rending novels I've
read in years. It tackles the most difficult of subjects with compassion
and sensitivity, and it is set to become an instant classic."
— Tim Lebbon, author of Dusk and Berserk
"Expert storyteller Gary Braunbeck outdoes himself with Prodigal Blues, a haunting, unsettling, eerie and beautiful novel about the hazards of childhood
in the face of overwhelming real-life horrors. Here is a tender, heart-felt,
unflinching exploration into shattered lives that will leave the reader disturbed,
enlightened, and with a real need to hug loved ones. Braunbeck is one of those
rare writers whose work can actually teach its audience a vast, human lesson."
— Tom Piccirilli, author of The Dead Letters and Headstone City
Gary A. Braunbeck was born in Newark, Ohio (the city that serves as the model for the fictitious Cedar Hill in many of his stories) in July of 1960. A Recovering Catholic who once briefly studied for the priesthood, Gary can usually be found holed up in his office writing stories and novels in any number of genres. He has worked as a grocery store clerk, a carny "stick", an animal groomer, a cable television salesman (a job at which he lasted one day), a bartender, a waiter, a short-order cook, an habilitation supervisor for developmentally disabled adults, an actor (specifically Summer Stock and Dinner Theatre, as well as being an extra in one movie and one television mini-series), a janitor (several stints at that one), a musician, a newspaper reporter, a clown for childrens' birthday parties, and is currently a Creative Writing instructor with Seton Hill College where he teaches in an innovative Master's Degree program in Writing Popular Fiction.
Published in two states:
• Limited Edition of 1,000 signed copies ($40)
• Traycased Lettered Edition of 26 signed and lettered copies bound in leather, with a satin ribbon page marker and additional full-color artwork ($175)