The Unmothers

Publication Date:

August 2024



Original language and publisher

English | Quirk Books

Territories Handled

France, Netherlands, Scandinavia

The Unmothers


“Desolate, heartrending, and genuinely scary.”—Gretchen Felker-Martin, author of Manhunt

“The Unmothers is exquisite and haunting in equal measure. . . . Nauseatingly tense and crushingly insightful. This book represents an absolutely vital entry into the horror canon.”—Sarah Gailey, nationally best-selling author of The Echo Wife and Just Like Home

“At the crossroads of True Detective and Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder, this equine Wicker Man manifests a mood equal parts majestic and terrifying, tragic and sublime. A rust belt gothic of Lynchian proportions, The Unmothers will linger long after you’re done riding—I mean reading.”—Clay McLeod Chapman, author of What Kind of Mother and Ghost Eaters

“Leslie Anderson writes with searing honesty and a palpable compassion for her characters in this story about the terrifying ways people cling to—and weaponize—belief systems. The Unmothers is riveting; the evil it depicts is insidious and real. You will easily fall captive to the eerie town of Raeford and its monsters.”—Anne Heltzel, author of Just Like Mother

“The Unmothers is a grimly beautiful novel about the terrifying collective power of women’s sublimated hope, grief, and rage. Leslie J. Anderson deftly balances poetic horror and unflinching realism in a powerful debut. This is folk horror for a forgotten America.”—Emily C. Hughes, author of Horror for Weenies and former editor of

“The Unmothers is brilliant. It is beautiful, heartbreaking, terrifying, and sharply intelligent. This book reminds me why I fell in love with folk horror in the first place. It also made me respect and love horses in a way I never have before! Anderson has such a pure sense of character and place, this might be the most perfectly nuanced book I’ve read in a long time. You won’t want to leave Raeford behind.”—Sam Rebelein, author of Edenville

“Terrifying in its beauty, horror, and power, this is a breathless read and a groundbreaking debut. You will never forget its dark spell.”—Alison Stine, Philip K. Dick Award–winning author of Road Out of Winter and Trashlands

“Haunting. Anderson’s deft debut fuses intriguing small-town mystery, disturbing horror, and a supernatural horse cult into an urgent and original tale.”—James Kennedy, author of Bride of the Tornado and Dare to Know

In this raw and lyrical folk horror novel wrapped in a murder mystery, a journalist sent to a small town begins to unravel a dark secret that the women of the town have been keeping for generations.

Marshall is still trying to put the pieces together after the death of her husband. After she is involved in a terrible accident, her editor sends her to the small, backwards town of Raeford to investigate a clearly ridiculous rumor: that a horse has given birth to a healthy, human baby boy.

When Marshall arrives in Raeford, she finds an insular town that is kinder to the horses they are famous for breeding than to their own people. But when two horribly mangled bodies are discovered in a field—one a horse, one a human—she realizes that there might be a real story here.

As she’s pulled deeper into the town and its guarded people, her sense of reality is tipped on its head. Is she losing her grip? Or is this impossible story the key to a dark secret that has haunted the women of Raeford for generations?

Unbearably tense and utterly gripping, this atmospheric tale of female rage, bodily autonomy, and generational trauma hails the arrival of a masterful storyteller.