The Liar of Red Valley
By Walter Goodwater
- The Liar of Red Valley
Author: Walter Goodwater
- ISBN: 9781781089118
- Published: September 2021
- Pages: 367
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 08/10/2021
- Language: English
There are many flavours of horror, but one that I prefer is American Gothic. There is something about the Deep South of America that mixes well with horror. It already feels like a foreign and mysterious place to many of us so when you add the notion of things that go bump in the night it seems to make sense. You can almost believe that there is magic in the land. The Liar of Red Valley by Walter Goodwater is American Gothic at its best, part Eerie Indiana, part bat poop crazy.
Sadie is not the Liar of Red Valley, but the Liar’s daughter. This has led to a lifetime of being shunned by the locals because her Mum’s job was to hide all the deepest and darkest secrets the townsfolk had. And this is not a town made up of only humans. Across the river is the King’s land, a mysterious entity that holds power over the region and the creatures that hide in the shadows. When Sadie’s mum suddenly dies the people look to Sadie to become the new liar, but does she want the job? When the King asks, you have little choice, and it might just be up to Sadie to save the town as she has just learned the King’s biggest secret.
Liar is an odd book, but in a wonderful way. The town of Red Valley is steeped in the supernatural, but the residents seem indifferent to it. It is as if Red Valley exists in our own world, but people just ignore it. This is a rundown town that is dying, no jobs and no future, yet the people still choose to live there. It is in this strange place that we discover Sadie and through her we learn a little more about what is going on.
I love the fact that the book is unapologetically spooky and that the residents are aware what is going on. The Liar is a well-known person in town and many people have gone to her to forget and lie to themselves or others. There is magic in the Liar’s journal that is linked to the King. Over the book Goodwater explores the locality and a rich history is uncovered. There is more than just the King with its power, many of the locals do to, as do those that live across the river. Even the river itself plays a part and you must beware the creatures called Laughing Boys. There are so many factions in the town that Sadie needs to navigate.
A sense of magic and unease permeates the entire book. As a reader you are never sure what is going to happen next. This means that is also a book ripe for some great twists and turns. There are moments in the book that will surprise even the more experienced horror fan.
It is the superb world building that I enjoyed most in Liar, but it is also a good mystery with some fearsome action set pieces. Sadie must explore the darker edges of town to discover what she needs to do to become the new Liar. Her actions stir up many creatures from the underworld. The story's tension ratchets up as more entities begin to gather on the edge of Red Valley in hopes of dethroning the King.
Liar is a horror book that has one foot in the urban fantasy genre. It works so well because it takes the markings of classic American Gothic and explores it in life like way. The residents of the town are resigned to living in an odd location. It is only we the reader with our outsider eye that can witness what a peculiar and spectacular place Red Water is. Read this book for some rich world building and wonderfully uneasy moments.
Written on 8th October 2021 by Sam Tyler .