Cover Image: The  Liar of Red Valley

The Liar of Red Valley

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Life in Red Valley is simple if you follow the rules:
Do not trust the Liar
Do Not go in the River 
Do not cross The King
In the Liar of Red Valley, Walter Goodwater mixes equal doses of urban fantasy with other worldly horror and a blisteringly paced plot to write a thoroughly entertaining book. 
The book starts off with the death of The Liar, and her daughter, Sadie’s coming to terms with the death of her mother. However, The Liar keeps all the town’s secrets and makes the lies that they tell come to be reality. This may be a little lie, like I am not going bald, to even bigger lies, and Sadie needs to know how to be the Liar, quick!
With the death of her mother, Sadie inherits the power of the Liar, and all that that means. She discovers that the position of The Liar was given to her family by The King, an all powerful being who walked the cosmos eons before the coming of the human race, generations ago in order to keep the lies of The King and the people safe.
In the course of the book, she discovers the power of Lies and what it can do. However, everyone wants that power, and she discovers that people will do anything to get the power of the lies for themselves as she is chased, threatened, arrested and reviled for her powers. It seems that everyone wants to know what lies Sadie’s family have been keeping and they will stop at nothing to discover the truth. 
Sadie finds herself chased by the Laughing Boys, a gang of addicts who let demons reside in their head instead of using drugs. Harassed by the local Undersheriff who says that he wants to depose the King’s reign and let Red Valley govern itself. However, one thing that they all have in common is that they will use whatever means necessary to obtain the power that is stored in her family’s ledgers. 
I have to say that I enjoyed this book immensely. It is filled with monsters, a time travelling house, Cthuluesque leviathans and all sorts of madness in between. Sadie is a good character, who develops as the book moves on. Initially beginning the book as a dormouse and transforming into a snarky lion that is able to navigate her own destiny. On the whole the plot moves at a frenetic pace as Sadie. is forced to come to terms with the death of her mother, and then know how to use her powers whilst at the same time traversing the strange and murky waters that is Red Valley. You watch her grow and she is aided by a supporting cast that at times, are a little one dimensional, but they adequately buoy the story along to get Sadie to where she needs to be. 
Added to that a plot that introduces twists and turns that is both unpredictable and blisteringly fast paced. I also found the setting of Red Valley and its plethora of strange residents that add a rich vein of strangeness, immersive and vividly written as the book runs towards its climactic ending. 
Whilst this is a standalone novel, I would love to see some more of this world that Walter Goodwater has crafted and hope for more stories set in Red Valley in the future as I think that this could be cracking ongoing series.
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This book is smartly written.  A magical town is truly brought to life in a way that allows the reader to feel like a visitor and not just an observer.  The premise took a little while to pull me in.  The author threw in some twists and turns that really worked.
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This was a really cool read. The world-building was excellent (I HATE it when things get over-explained; I prefer the rather laconic approach Mr Goodwater employs); I especially liked the Laughing Boys, with their mixture of self-inflicted tragedy and adolescent self-absorbed dumbness, and the King himself, because he wasn't at all what I expected. (Full disclosure: I was a tad worried that the book might go all religious on me, but phew! Nothing of the kind.) Things get a bit Lovecraft at times, but not in a histrionic kind of way -- no hyperventilating about Voids or Things on Thresholds. It's just nice and believably scary, with some twists thrown in that even I could like (and reading all those third-rate Brit women's mysteries has given me pretty severe twist allergies, so that's no small thing). Even the LGBTQ representation felt organic and real to me, not like some gimmicky flavor-of-the-month addition to help shift more units.
I couldn't tell whether this was intended as YA or just skewed that way because of the main protagonist's age, but to me most YA reads a bit "dumbed-down" and shallow, which wasn't the case with "Liar" at all. (Also, that bane of YA, the Unfolding Teen Romance, was nowhere to be found either -- a big YAY!!! from me.) I guess this is that rare All Ages horror novel that, for once, really everybody can enjoy.
I'm not sure if there are plans for a sequel, but if there are, I'd definitely be on board.
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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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What a fun, creative read! I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but what I found was a world of dark fantasy that was easy to immerse myself in. The main character is likeable and easy to root for, and the world-building is done really well considering it's not that long of a book. I actually wouldn't mind reading other books set in this world. 

Tonally, it reminded me almost of Nathan Ballingrud's Wounds collection, but for young adults. I'm not sure if young adults are the intended audience for this book, but this is definitely something I would have loved as a teenager. (I don't mean that as a knock at all!) There's a couple of plot twists in here that actually caught me off guard, as well, which is always pretty neat. 

Overall, a fun, easy read that's easy to get caught up in. Perfect for a rainy fall afternoon!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
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Things you need to know: This is a STELLAR urban fantasy. This might now be my favourite standalone in the genre. Thank you so much Netgalley and Rebellion, Solaris for the ARC in exchange for an honest review; I can't wait to get my hands on a physical copy come 30th September!

Sadie's mother is The Liar of Red Valley until one day she isn't and the mantle is passed to Sadie herself. She alone is entrusted with the town's secrets and lies; she will will be the one to create them and bring them to life. 

I read this in under 24 hours. I could. not. put. it. down. This is an urban fantasy, kind of mixed with a horror - I say kind of a horror because I don't read horror books but this hit the right spot for me. There's also elements of a thriller here and there's just so much to explore. It's hard to believe this book comes in at under 400 pages. 

What I liked:
- Sadie is such a well rounded MC. Her life, her friendships and interactions with the towns people 
- There's a King. In a small American town, there's a King. It's so implausible and yet it works?! It works so well! The lore around the King and how he came to be in the town is superb.
- The Kings Men kind of gave me Agent vibes from the Matrix franchise and made my skin CRAWL - yes! And don't even get me started on The Laughing Boys. 
- At one point I was reading and someone asked me if I was okay because I made a rather rude exclamation at  a certain twist/reveal, and I can only applaud a book that makes me do that. 

What I didn't like:
- Nothing. I loved this. This book SLAPPED.
- The only thing I'm sad about is that this is intended as a standalone and I think this has the potential to span a series.

Read if you like:
- Urban fantasies - if you liked Lore or liked watching shows like Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer then I think this is for you!
- Strong badass, morally ambiguous female MCs.
- Complex villains.
- Books that make you gasp and cuss because you can't believe THAT really happened. 

Will I reread? Didn't you hear? This is 5 stars; I'd pay to reread this.
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The Liar of Red Valley really caught me by surprise, since I didn't necessarily expect anything going into it. I surely didn't expect it to go into the direction that it did, but I ended up really liking it.
The two negative points about this book, in my opinion, are: 1. the pacing feels a bit slow, to the point that it felt like there wasn't as much going on in the story as there was; and 2. I wanted a bit more lore of Red Valley and about the creatures in the end etc.
However, I enjoyed my time reading this book immensely, mainly because of all of the characters and the great representation for different ethnicities, sexualities etc. Sadie was an amazing main character and I really enjoyed following her on her journey and all of the characters that she interacted with.
Overall, The Liar of Red Valley was a good story with some exquisite twists that I didn't see coming.
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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 reading 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. 

Concluding Thoughts:

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?
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Such an amazing gothic book. Walter Goodwater is an amazing writer.
So original, with so many twists and turns that you never know what is coming next. Highly recommend
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This book was probably one of the best books I've read this year. With it's fast paced, steady going plot and likeable characters, 'The Liar of Red Valley' brings a hint of fantasy to the horror world. In all honesty, I'd rate this masterpiece a 4.5 out of 5. The ending was kind of disappointing compared to the beginning but overall it was a great book. Red Valley is an interesting town and I still have questions about the plot holes / lies told in this book. The twist at the end was definitely worth waiting for and I'd read any other book by this author again. Props!
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This book is about Sadie, the next in line of being the Liar of the Red Valley after her mum died of stage 4 cancer. Hours after her mum died, a lot of people are coming for her, specifically for the ledges of her ancestors where the lies are being written and a secret involves the King is written there. Sadie then told the secret that involves the King to the Sheriff and now everyone knows it. Red Valley is now in danger and it's up to her to save her town. 

This book is so amazing and perfect in a lot of ways. The world building was fantastic and it's really unique. The pacing and writing was great and the characters were loveable. I love the twist in the end like that was seriously unexpected and shocking. The book made me feel a wide variety of emotions in a good way. Walter Goodwater is a genius and this book proves it! This book also got me out of my reading slump and I am happy to have been accepted to read and review this.
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Going into The Liar of Red Valley I had certain expectations. Maybe this would be some kind of American gothic Eldritch horror tale about how Sadie, suddenly dealing with gaining this primaeval blood magic, crosses the King, an entity as old and shadowy as the land itself. However, Walter Goodwater has instead crafted a story that refuses to be boxed in by genres, for better or for worse. 

 Sadie the Liar

Sadie is our protagonist and she doesn't have too much in life. She lives outside of town with her mother in a broken-down old house, working as a waitress at the diner in town and has one friend, Graciela. I really liked Sadie as a character, she's spicy. She stands up for herself when she needs to and won't back down from doing what she perceives to be the right thing, but she will hide when she recognises it's necessary.

Her mother is the hated and feared Liar, who contains the power to rewrite truth. For instance, changing somebody's hair colour, taking away a terrible memory, or even bringing back a beloved pet - though all of these things are not real, by giving a little of their blood and paying the Liar's Price which takes time off their lives for every lie told, everybody in Red Valley believes the lies, they become the truth. It's tough to describe but it makes sense in the book, trust me. 

When Sadie's mother dies suddenly, she finds herself needing to work out how to be the Liar, and fast, because the ledgers that contain everybody's lies are wanted by forces that Sadie cannot deal with on her own. She does not want them to fall into the wrong hands, which she fast learns are basically everybody's but her own. Rightfully so, she is afraid, but also stubborn. 

 Atmosphere is Everything

My first impressions of The Liar of Red Valley were that it was almost as though Neil Gaiman wrote True Blood, and I think that is still partially true having finished the book. It has a very gothic dark fantasy vibe, and Goodwater has the strange imagination that Gaiman also holds, with just a hint of magic and wonder that I was not expecting. He's very good at setting a scene and the whole book is very atmospheric.

"Telling a Lie will become easy, with time. Too easy. Never forget that once it is told, there's no taking it back. Once it escapes from your head into the world, it has a life all its own."

 Of Magic and Monsters

My favourite thing about the novel is how alive Red Valley felt. The town is steeped in strange and ancient magic that makes it feel like another world. Obviously, we see this in the Liar and the King, a presence of fear that nobody has ever seen, who rules over the area, but that's just the beginning. The King has his King's Men, his eyes and ears, seemingly undead men who drive around keeping an eye on the town, notarised by their mirrored sunglasses. The diner that Sadie works at is built around an immortal tree that heals itself of any damage. The Laughing Boys are those that allowed demons to latch onto them when the drugs weren't giving them enough of a high anymore. There are "things" in the dark, most of which we never meet but they're always there just off to the side, held back by the King's Peace if you're on the right side of the River. If you're on the other side? All bets are off. I loved that aspect of it, taking the good side of town and the bad side of town to a whole new level.

However it isn't just the monsters and the magic in The Liar of Red Valley we need to concern ourselves with, Undersheriff Hassler also has a mighty bee in his bonnet for all the weird things in town and really seems to have it in for Sadie. He is a bit of a caricature of that "mean cop" trope, but he fits in with the story.

I love how much thought went into creating all of these elements that made Red Valley feel so magical. However, as strange as it may sound, this was probably also my least favourite thing about the novel. As much wonder and darkness as many of these elements added, some of them also felt a little too much at some points as there were so many things being introduced and juggled, I found it a little overwhelming at times. 

 Too Fast or Just Right?

Add to that the fast pace of the story. For the most part, I found myself enjoying how the story kept moving. It made for a very compelling and hard to put down read, and that is a tough balance to strike.

There were times, however, that I found myself dying for Sadie to have a quiet moment with Graciela, or somebody else. Maybe just a chapter of sitting back, chilling, talking about what's been happening, the future perhaps. We meet so many cool side characters throughout, after all. There were certainly moments like this but for the most part, it felt to me like Sadie never had the chance to breathe, almost like the story was tripping over itself to get to the ending when it could have slowed down a little, just a smidge, and taken a more atmospheric journey. 

 Coming to the End (No Spoilerinos)

While I previously criticised The Liar of Red Valley for having too much going on, it has to be said that the way it all came together in the ending was pretty brilliant. There are things so subtly hinted at that you don't even see the twists coming. Each element seemed to dance around each other like ocean waves in a storm as they crashed and merged and became new waves.

Some of the threads we see wrapped up were super satisfying, while others were somewhat... odd. I didn't hate the way everything wrapped up, but I didn't love it either. It's very tough to put into words without spoiling so I shall leave that there. 

Overall, The Liar of Red Valley is a speculative fiction story about breaking the rules, fighting for what is yours, and belonging. While yes, I hold some criticisms of the book, on the whole, I really enjoyed my time reading it. There are a few things that remain mysteries to the end and considering how much gets answered, that can be frustrating but at the same time, I think some things should remain mysterious. That's part of the magic.

Walter Goodwater has a wonderful imagination and a really solid writing style that made this book a joy to read. If it has you interested, I can recommend it. Just know going in that there is grit to the story. It gets dark, it contains monsters, though it's more akin to urban fantasy or high fantasy than horror when it comes down to it. 

The Liar of Red Valley by Walter Goodwater releases through Solaris on 28th September 2021.
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It's a story of a normal small town in America. Except it's not that normal, given that it's full of weird stuff like junkies who have actual demons in their head, a house which appears and disappears at various points and is ruled over by a mysterious entity known as the King. So magic and monsters abound.

Well told tales of realistic settings with crazy fantasy shit going on is right up my street. I'm going to call this genre "Fantasy in A Realistic Town" or FART for short. Robert Jackson Bennett's American Elsewhere is another one I love and I was reminded of it during this book.

Anyway the story centres on Sadie, who, following the death of her mother, has to take on the role of the Liar. The Liar basically turns lies into reality (ish) for the townsfolk...but at a heavy price.

Sadie struggles to come to terms with her new role, as various antagonists, both human and otherwise threaten her as they look to uncover or protect various lies.

My only real criticism is that the book could actually have been a bit longer...and it's not often I say that! But in this case, the end felt a bit rushed and some of the mythological characters who enter the fray in the final 3rd could maybe have done with some fleshing out.

But overall, my most enjoyable FART for a long time.
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This book is a thrill of twists and turns and so completely unique! I love American Gothic style literature so when I read the description of this book I knew it was for me. This is a memorable page turner and the perfect book to add to your Fall to read list. I love that it also has those horror elements to it. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ARC.
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First of all thank you netgalley for providing me with an arc of this book. This book had a pretty interesting concept and I liked the plot.
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I loved this. Totally original with a fantastic premise. Part horror and fantasy, with fantastic pace, characterisation and ultimately completely absorbing.
Set in the dark and somewhat eerie Red Valley of California where things are very different. Nothing much goes on there in that it is run down and poor, but actually so much odd magical stuff happens it is hard to keep track of it all. There are but 3 main rules:

Don’t trust the Liar.
Don’t go in the River.
Do not cross the King.

Sadie suddenly loses her mother and unwittingly becomes the Liar of Red Valley. Completely unprepared she has to fathom out what it means to be the Liar, meet the King whilst feeling very alone. It is full of quirky world building, has a quest and is full of twists and turns that I would never have seen coming.

Sadie is a great character, true, feisty, reflective and intelligent. She continually evolves and surprises herself. She, despite this is warm, yet determined and almost an antihero in the eyes of others. There are scary beasts, demonic esque beings, time travelling Victorians and much more that creates lots of intrigue and action. It is deftly dappled with humour, as well as some endearing self-depreciation. Great escapism; enjoy the journey. It’s a cracker.
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This one was... Weird. There were elements that reminded me of Simon R. Green's Nightside series - lots of bizarre magical beasties and unusual magical abilities, many of which are introduced seemingly for no other reason than to expand the cast of characters... It can make for a confusing and distracting read at times, but the plot and concepts here are original and interesting and there's a twist thrown in three-quarters of the way through that I didn't see coming for a hundred miles. It saved the story for me, especially considering the somewhat trite and tidy - and unbelievably quick, given the long build up - ending. It was an entertaining and quick read and would make for a cool movie or miniseries, as it would be visually stunning.
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Thank you to the publisher for letting me review this book!
I sincerely enjoyed this book.  I didn't know what to think when it came to this book and how I was going to enjoy it, but it had a few surprises for me that I didn't see coming!
Characters: I felt that the characters were fleshed out and diverse.  Some issues that the side characters were facing I wish were given more time.  I honestly wish that the side characters were given more time.  I could read a whole book about the Grays to be honest.  I want more from them.  If the author wanted to write a book about Beto and his powers or even the elderly sisters who could magic, I would pick them up in a heartbeat.  
Atmosphere: Walter did such a good job of setting up Red Valley and giving us this small town with lots of secrets vibe.  Red Valley felt real and fantastical all at the same time.  
Writing: Another strong point.  I had no issues with how this book was written other than wanting more time with side characters.
Plot: The plot was very interesting and had me guessing of what's really happening during the whole book.  I felt that the hunter at the end should've had a bit more to say and do, but the final battle was fun.  
Intrigue: The intrigue about the King was done beautifully.  We were given just enough hints spaced out nicely as the story went on.  The twist about Sadie had me intrigued of how she works now.  The book definitely had me hooked the entire time.  
Logic: Not very logical in a real world sense.  I would've liked to see some more explanation of the magic in the world.  There was some real world issues mentioned in the book but none of them were really expanded on.  
Enjoyment: I enjoyed this book so much that I'm going to go pre-order a physical copy right now.  I can't recommend this enough.  The side characters in this book make me want more books set in this world.  I will be keeping an eye out for those if Walter ever decides he wants to write them.
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What a wonderful book. 

I was transported to the magical town of Red Valley where there are only three rules: Do not cross the King; Never, ever go in the River; Don't trust the Liar. During the course of the story, all three rules are broken to disastrous consequences. Oh, but the journey is worth it!

With magical powers passed down through generations, Sadie becomes the new Liar in Red Valley when her mother unexpectedly dies. Not knowing exactly how her magic works, she calls on a long dead ancestor for instruction. She learns that a Liar grants wishes for people through lying for them at a cost of time off of their lives. Thus, she is seen as both necessary and someone not to be trusted or admired in this isolated community. Sadie soon discovers a secret about the King that is potentially devastating to the community.. Pursued for her knowledge, Sadie does the thing Liars are never supposed to do: she reveals a lie granted to the King. This sets off a war of evil creatures against townspeople with Sadie and a few magical of cohorts to hold the line and save Red Valley. They must win, but at what cost?

This is a well-crafted story and has many plot twists that one expects to find in thrillers. The characters are expertly drawn and the magic seemingly realistic. The tension is taut and and seamless. This  is a must read for lovers of fantasy.

Thank you NetGalley and Solaris for an Advance Reader's Copy of this book. The publication date is September 28, 2021.
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A creative mix of horror, magic and fantasy.  The story is a good vs dark vs magic page turner with a nice flow.  The main character is colorful and engaging, and the Liar made for an interesting concept.  Goodwater impresses with colorful, illustrative storytelling and plot twists.

Special thanks to NetGalley, Walter Goodwater and Rebellion Publishing for the advanced copy of The Liar of Red Valley. #TheLiarOfRedValley  #NetGalley
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