In Red Valley, California, you follow the rules if you want to stay alive. But even that isn’t enough to protect Sadie now that she’s unexpectedly become the Liar: the keeper and maker of Red Valley’s many secrets.
In a town like this, friendships are hard-won and bad blood lasts generations, and when not everyone in town is exactly human, it isn’t a safe place to make enemies.
And though the Liar has power—power to remake the world, with just a little blood—what Sadie really needs is answers: Why is the town’s sheriff after her? What does the King want from her? And what is the real purpose of the Liar of Red Valley?
The Liar of Red Valley is listed as an “occult fiction” book and “magical realism”. I guess that makes sense, because it probably falls short of horror, even though there is a lot of creepiness. I really enjoyed it, and I have no problem saying it is an early entry into spooky season.
What I liked the most about this book is the unique plot. I am not sure I have read anything super similar. Death Note has the same sort of notebook-as-magical-artifact type of vibes, though these notebooks are used in very different ways. The Liar does not use the notebook to kill, necessary, at least not directly. I love the concept of the notebook and how it is used, and its consequences for both The Liar and the person making the request.
The author (Walter Goodwater) set the stage perfectly. Sadie becoming The Liar unexpectedly without any instruction, her issues with her mom, the drama of beings who support the liar and others who do not, the dangers of not following the rules. I love stories with a ton of intrigue, and that is exactly what Goodwater gives us. There are many different pieces of the storyline providing tension, and that is what carries the book for the most part.
Another plus is Sadie just being an amazing character all the way around. She is equal parts strength and unsure, which is a great way to be in a story like this. As a reader, those aspects influence me when I am reading: her insecurities become mine, making me feel anxious at certain time, and her strength transfers, too, during parts of the story where it is needed. I enjoyed the emotional connection.
There is a bit of a lull in the middle part of the book. I found my mind wandering at times, so I think it could have done more to keep that intrigue going. I usually see this done with mini-conflicts and solutions while en route to the main resolution, and I do not think this book did a whole lot of that. There was also a kinf of mainish character introduced about halfway through, which is really hard to do right. I was not a fan of the way it was done here, so that is another drawback.
But, the author really comes through in the last third of the book, though. It was exciting! There were several twists that I did not see coming, and a lot more action than I expected. The story ended being more hopeful than I thought it was going to be, as well. So, I found the end to be very surprising, and I love that. There were several “ooh!’ and “aah!” moments. It was a lot of fun.
Overall, The Liar of Red Valley was a really good read. It was spooky at times and tense others – a story full of surprises and intrigue. I recommend it for fans of occult-style books and anyone looking for a unique story of magic and monsters.
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