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  • Fun, self-contained fantasy

    It’s very rare to see a standalone fantasy book rather than a sprawling, epic, multi-part series. The amount of pages that you need to introduce world-building, backstory and societal conventions as well as make everything come to life can make sandwiching in a complete plot very difficult. The Liar of Red Valley makes this a little easier by having a world very similar to our own with a few added fantasy elements. There’s a part of California called ‘Red Valley’ which is ruled by a creature called the King. Magic blooms in the town and Liars can make people believe anything – for a price, the dead can be raised and time can be ignored. When Sadie’s mum – The Liar of Red Valley dies, it is up to her to take on the legacy and fix some mistakes made along the way. Sadie is a good main character, she’s feisty and determined and has flaws so we as a reader can empathise with her. I was initially a little frustrated about how much of her mum’s work she didn’t know, when the reader who has been introduced to the concept for only a few chapters seems to have more of an idea than she does. However, there is a brilliant twist which comes towards the end which I did not expect and also allowed some of the previous plot holes a way out! I really liked some of the monsters in the book – the Laughing Boys for example were particularly creepy. I also liked the idea of the faces that lived behind fire and could manipulate it to burn in unnatural ways. The stakes always felt very high, although sometimes the chain of decision making didn’t make much sense. I enjoyed how it was a self-contained story though even if the ending felt a little too neat – I would have liked a bit of a cliff-hanger or small twist right at the end. Overall, The Liar of Red Valley is a fun, self-contained fantasy which allows for some much-needed escapism. Thank you to NetGalley & Rebellion – Solaris for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Terrific!

    4.5 stars. Omigoodness, I liked this story so much! I felt like Lovecraft had been an influence on the crafting of this tale, but this world was its own thing. The atmosphere and setting are so well drawn, from the dusty streets and blistering heat blanketing the California town, to the tree growing right in the middle of the diner Sadie works at, to the menacing river, to the terrifying King’s men, and to the ancient evils outside of the Red Valley, in this alternate version of California. Then there’s the concept of a Liar, a role essential to the town, allowing people to lie about their dead pets, balding heads, marital difficulties, and recording it all in her ledgers. She’s essential to the town, isolated, and answers to the King, and though not as flashy as a laughing boy, has immense power, as Sadie begins to discover. The plot moved well with no dull moments. I liked Sadie, and how she stumbled around initially, trying to figure out how to be the new Liar of Red Valley, making mistakes and endangering herself and others. I was entertained, and absolutely loved the two BIG lies Sadie’s mum had tucked away — a left turn in the events and our understanding of everything we’d learned up till then about the Red Valley, and its residents. A clever turn, and an enjoyable book.

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