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 by Walter Goodwater is Rebellion Publishing’s leading title for September, marking it the perfect addition to your fall lineup. Goodwater delivers on all ends by blending together the American Gothic, horror, and fantasy genres. Red Valley is brimming with supernatural creatures and closely guarded secrets that are best left untold.
The story takes place in the mysteriously small town of Red Valley, which has been ruled by the King and the Liar for nearly 200 years. The story is mostly told from the POV of Sadie, Red Valley’s newest Liar who is now able to take people’s lies and remake them into truth, for a price of course. Goodwater has harnessed this concept and unleashed it through multiple genres, and brilliantly I might add. I loved the various flavors that came together to make it its own. I am by no means a horror reader but the horror didn’t feel too heavy.
From the novelty of the Liar to the chilling presence of characters such as the Laughing Boys, Goodwater succeeded in developing an assortment of horrors and monsters that reminded me of an ingenuity the likes of Neil Gaimain. I found Sadie to be a very relatable female lead and thought her decision making and choices were on brand for her character. The secondary characters were diverse and tightly connected to Sadie’s character arc yet were given the space to become fairly developed themselves.
Some of my favorite character journeys are those following the aftermath of life changing events. Sadie’s journey was one of identity and legacy. It was a wise decision to have Sadie suddenly placed into her new role because it added to the mystery of the Liar. The reader learns as much or as little as Sadie does, and I think that helped set the tone. There is some content that the reader should be aware of beforehand including police brutality, hate crime, racism, and homophobia.
The development of Red Valley is where Goodwater shined. Red Valley felt like its own little isolated pocket of life grounded inside a much larger, realistic setting where supernatural elements are considered normal and part of everyday life for the people of Red Valley. Their best chance at staying alive is by following three vital rules that ideally serve to protect from the supernatural otherthings living outside the protection of Red Valley.
We do not learn much of what’s beyond Red Valley. This is what added to the strangeness and absolutely worked in favor of the plot. I loved wondering what was on the periphery and how life outside of Red Valley worked. The characters are closely tied to Red Valley, and Red Valley is tied closely to the characters. The plot is guided by supernatural elements between the characters and the land which helped the reader explore the smaller details within the social and cultural network of Red Valley.
The magical, supernatural elements were fantastically balanced between some darker influences with lighter, benevolent magic. Eldritch beings were plentiful and took on a life of their own in an otherworldly manner. The way these beings were all initially introduced and came together worked in its favor. I think my only (minor) complaint was that a few things weren’t as satisfyingly concluded as I anticipated considering the buildup, if that makes sense. The pacing felt a bit rushed near the end as everything was coming together. I wanted to spend more time fleshing out some conversations and scenes.
Overall, I enjoyed The Liar of Red Valley and its blending of genres. Special thanks to NetGalley and Rebellion/ Solaris for sharing this digital reviewer copy in exchange for my honest thoughts. You can grab your copy on September 28th, 2021.
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