With a human principal suddenly in receipt of supernatural powers, living in a world that’s very much like ours but with monsters, The Liar of Red Valley is textbook urban fantasy, or at least as the genre was until it disappeared up a very dark graphic-sex-with-vampires-and-werewolves alleyway sometime in the 2000s.
Walter Goodwater has previous, setting his previous book series in a Cold War where the Berlin Wall was made of magic, and he builds a fascinating world here, bringing the Californian desert town of Red Valley to life and filling it with absorbing characters. Sadie’s mother is the titular Liar, welcoming people to her home to have new truths spoken to the world… for a price. But when Sadie’s mother suddenly dies, the town needs a new Liar and guess who’s inherited the family business? Oh well, it’s not like there’s a problem with the mysterious King of Red Valley and an overeager lawman gunning for him, is there?
Goodwalter’s story marches along at a pace which outstrips the creeping desert heat, building towards an intriguing climax that may – or just as easily may not – lead to more adventures for the people of this strange town. Grounding his characters, the author makes the reader care for the principals – even the unearthly King – and ensures that a clever twist which turns the book on its head feels all the more surprising.
If you like stories of ordinary (and, okay, a little bit extraordinary) people up against supernatural forces, then The Liar of Red Valley comes heartily recommended. It’s tailor-made for a Netflix show, so jump on the bandwagon while it slows to take in Red Valley’s peculiar attractions…
THE LIAR OF RED VALLEY by Walter Goodwater is out through Solaris on September 30th