The Liar of Red Valley
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"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?"
The Liar of Red Valley is an upcoming standalone fantasy horror novel by Walter Goodwater.
First and foremost, I would like to thank NetGalley and Solaris for providing me with a copy for review. Please note that this in no way affects my opinions. Also note that what I read was an ARC, and things may be subject to change for the final copy.
This book sits firmly in my 'meh' rating. This has an interesting premise and, if done right, it could have made for a unique story. Unfortunately, I felt that the story was too rushed and had a lot of holes in it thus leading to an underwhelming experience.
I don't have any complaints about the writing, but I did have some issues with the format of the book. I didn't think that the inclusion of an extra perspective added anything to the story and thought that the pacing was a bit off at points. Some parts moved too slow while others moved too quickly, especially when it got towards the end.
This story suffers from a lack of specificity. Fully fleshing out your story is crucial for a standalone as you have only one shot to establish a well-written world. This had the framework to be an interesting story but, unfortunately, the pieces of the puzzle didn't come together clearly. Things that were happening in this didn't feel connected and felt more like a series of random acts rather than a well-developed and intentional flow of events.
A lot of the bits and pieces also didn't make much logical sense and left me with more questions than answers. Certain plotlines were mentioned so long ago that I completely forgot about them by the time they came back around. This also could have used a lot more substance in order to make up for any plot holes and the short length of the book.
Getting back to the pacing I mentioned in the writing section, I found it to be a bit ridiculous the time frame in which the events of the books occurred. Everything was happening too quickly and too suddenly for it to seem real. Everything also seemed rather convenient as well which made me believe the actuality of all this happening even less.
In all honesty, the world-building in this confused me. We don't get enough background information about not only the town itself but also the world outside of it. We know that this town has a kingly figure, but not enough is told about him and his history in the town to establish why things are the way that they are. There is also the inclusion of other magical figures whose role in the world is also not explained very well. The inclusion of a Brujo and the demonic- possessed laughing boys were thrown in there without any real explanation as to why they existed in this world.
There is simply just a lack of scope, and again a lack of specificity that ends up bogging down the world-building. I find myself asking if everything about the town that is magical is isolated to just the town.
At first, I was okay with Sadie as our main character, but I should have known that things were too good to be true. I can commend her for being brave, but I draw the line at acting out in order to show that you are actually terrified. She simply talked too much and was not able to read the room and stay quiet. Besides Sadie, the King, and maybe the town Sheriff, I felt like by the end I was not successfully convinced as to why every other character was crucial to the story. They all just seemed to be there, but they didn't add much individual flair.
Was this a complete waste of my time, no, because I would still give this a middling rating? Could this have used a lot more specificity and better development, absolutely?