Book Review: The Liar of Red Valley by Walter Goodwater

Don’t trust the Liar.

Don’t go in the River.

Do not cross the King.

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?

I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going in to when I started this book. The blurb and tag lines had grabbed my attention and Rebellion Publishing were kind enough to send me a review copy.

The world building was great, you know that there is something odd about Red Valley but the way you find out more and more though the actions and interactions of people though the course of the book make it feel very real.

Red Valley is a special place, protected by the mysterious King, who has creepy minions with immense power to keep the town under control. In return the King extends his Peace and keeps the town safe from the dark hordes outside its boundaries. The people both worship and fear him, and few have ever been into his presence.

I loved the supernatural elements (I think supernatural is the right description here rather than magic as it’s a whole raft of different elements that work together to give us a strange an other worldly feel to Red valley rather than a singular magic system with particular rules).

There were some spectacularly creepy elements like the Laughing Boys – people who had invited Demons into their bodies because of the drug like high it gave but have become permanent hosts to the demon leading to creepy laughter from the demon even while the host body goes about its day. A very creepy dual personality being with the host falling more and more under the control of the demon I definitely wouldn’t like to meet one of these on a dark night (or a well lit day actually).

Sadie our main protagonist has a power of her own although she isn’t entirely sure how to use it. She is the Liar of Red Valley, a position passed down her family line that suddenly and unexpectedly becomes hers on her mothers unexpected death. The Liar has the power to make a lie come true – for a price and the people of Red Valley both despise and use the liars power to improve their own lives. Sadie must work out how to use her power to keep both herself and the town safe.

I really like Sadie, she faced a lot over the course of the book and yet she remained likable throughout, with good reasons for taking the actions she did, she wasn’t a helpless protagonist, swept along by events, she made her choices and saw them through.

The conclusion to the story was action packed and brutal but absolutely fitted with the rest of the story. A little bit Buffy on the Hellmouth (if Buffy had to do everything on her own), a little bit Stranger Things but entirely its own story with its own awesome protagonist I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

With thanks to Rebellion Publishing for sending me a copy in exchange for honest review.

The Liar of Red Valley publishes 28 September 2021

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