Cover Image: Valley of Shadows

Valley of Shadows

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Member Reviews

After first receiving a physical copy of this book, I was struck by how much I loved the cover and felt it was telling a story before I even opened the pages of the book.

VALLEY OF SHADOWS is a visionary Neo-Western blend of magical realism, mystery, and horror, which sheds light on the dark past of injustice, isolation, and suffering along the US-Mexico border.

I loved listening to this as an audiobook, and appreciated the magical realism aspects of the story. 

*many thanks to Blackstone for the gifted copy for review
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One of my favorite reads of 2022. I love the Weird Western genre and this book had everything I could've wanted. I was pulled in by the prose, the beautiful and grim descriptions, and the plot twists. The narrator was a perfect fit for this title and I loved the audio edition.
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Solitario exists in a Valley of Shadows, where he is haunted by the ghosts of those he's lost, those whom he cared about too much, awakening the malediction plaguing the men in his family.  The semi-recent loss of his wife drives him into a self-imposed solitude, wherein he waits for her to appear. He works his ranch and only periodically goes to town for supplies, but when the local sheriff and his wife and son are murdered, Solitario is summoned to look into the crime. The ritualistic murder of the mayor's wife & kidnapping of his young children seemingly stump the local mayor, who compels Solitario to return to his law-enforcement position. Solitario resists, but when his friend's family suffers a horrifying fate and his god-daughter disappears like the other children, Solitario finds himself racing against the calendar to solve the mystery and stop the killings before it's too late. He's joined in his efforts by the ghost of his friend, who cannot rest until his daughter is safe, as well as a young woman with indigenous heritage who has a kind of "sight." Throughout the story, she finds herself drawn to Solitario, and she seeks to disrupt his brooding isolation as her feelings for him grow stronger, even as his resistance to her strengthens under the weight of his fear that she will die, as well.

I really enjoyed listening to this story right up to the end, where I was left mildly dissatisfied by the resolution to one of the major plot points. I was like, "Well, what was the point of that!?" The central plot of the murder mystery definitely held my interest, and I appreciated the magical elements, even as they seemed a little too simple. I did like Solitario's character, even though his development hugs the ideal hero archetype. I was left wanting with the idea of his reentry into society.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Blackstone Audio for the advanced audio copy of this title. 

Valley of Shadows was a haunting western. The exploration of the idea of borders and belonging was well done. The narrator was magnificent and really brought the characters to life.
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I just felt like this was so long winded and didn't really seem to make much sense of why anything was being done that the way that it was. It was hard to stay engaged. I did enjoy the narrator's voice.
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Valley of Shadows is an interesting blend of historical western and magical realism. The marketing for this book also shelves it in the horror genre, and I think that does it a disservice. I would say there are horror elements in the descriptions of the ritualistic murders, but not much beyond that. I liked the flashback plotline of the story as it helped to put this American time period in context with major historical events outside of its border, though I understand why some reviewers felt like it was one plot element too many. I would recommend this book for historical fiction/mystery readers who want to branch out towards fantasy stories, and vise versa.
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I feel that I can’t accurately review this book because I hated the narrator’s voice. I found it nasal, hard to hear and not emotive.
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I couldn’t get into this book. I wasn’t a fan of the writing and I just didn’t like where the plot was going.
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Thank you to NetGalley for this audio ARC. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

"Discrimination is evil, but evil does not discriminate."

Historical fiction is not usually my thing but I was surprised with how much I enjoyed listening to this. Valley of Shadows explores topics like discrimination, racism and justice. This was slow to start but after a couple of chapters in the pace definitely picked up. Admittedly the plot became repetitive, there's a murder, then it goes back to show you how it happened and then the cycle repeats. The true mystery in this story is who's carrying out these murders. That was a massive plot twist and I honestly did not see it coming.
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The story of a lawman solving the murders of residents of his Texas border town, Valley of Shadows is a mixture of a predictable plot with magical characters. Magic and mysticism of the town's  merging cultures provide momentum for the story. .
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This is a debut fiction novel and it is written with the integrity of someone writing form the heart of the culture.
This story shows doing the right thing is not always easy but it needs to be done.
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This is hands down a Masterful storytelling by Rudy ruiz, a genre bending novel filled with Ghost and indigenous Folklore. An enchanting Slow burn suspense/historical fiction/Thriller/Magical realism with a dash of horror 

They year is 1883, The story follows Solitario Cisneros who lives in a city  called “El Olvidó” in West Texas. When he loses his wife due to Rio Grande shifting and leaving the city of el olvidó stranded in the Texan border, Solitario is forced to retired and mourn the loss of his beloved Luz.

But then an unexpected and gruesome series of killings of families and kidnapping of children start to happen, he is driven to pick up his batch and gun again, to bring justice to all the families and those close to him. 

And so our story begins, with the help of some ghost and a Onawa who is half Apache/Half Mexican and is considered in her tribe as a Seer, they begun the search of the kidnapped children and so the hunt begins .. to uncover who is committing all these atrocities. 

“Discrimination is evil but evil does not Discriminate”

I love how Rudy ruiz is able to bring to light the dark past and suffering of the US-MEXICO border, in a beautifully written story with talks of colonialism, Racism, Patriarchy and Mexican History.
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Characters that haunt you long after the book has been closed. A plot that beckons you to return and complete the journey. Scenes that transport you to unfamiliar and intriguing landscapes. Subtext rich with allusions, layered themes, and foreshadowing so occluding you are pleasantly surprised by the conclusion. 

These are the elements that make a great novel. And the elements found on each page of Valley of Shadows by Rudy Ruiz.

Solitario Cisneros echos at once of Stephen King's Roland of Gilead, and even Sir Thomas Malory's King Arthur in reader's minds. The tragic hero has a special connection to the supernatural, and reveals his world to the curious through well-timed revelations. 

The detective with incorporeal informants crosses the veil between worlds as easily as taking his trusty steed over the dry Rio Grande river bed. And the reader is carried along into every shocking incident, every unsettling encounter, and every mystifying development of the case.

The narrator does an excellent job with setting the tone through well-paced phrasing and emphasis. His mastery of the Spanish language makes it easy for a reader with no language education to follow along and pull meaning from context. The voices slip from small child, to hardened hero, and menacing villain with ease. 

The tale was more enjoyable and the theme more enveloping through Gary Tiedemann's experienced, professional, and bilingual voice artistry.
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Gave this a low rating because I ended up DNF-ing it.
This was a weird situation for a book. The story was good and after the first hour or so of listening to it I got into the story. I ended up finding it slow and just wasn't fitting my mood in the moment. The work was good and I think many will enjoy this story, just wasn't what I wanted right at this time.
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A blend of mystery and supernatural we follow Solitario Cisneros, a Mexican Caballero, who races to solve a series of brutal murders and kidnapping with the help of an Apache/Mexican woman name Onawa. There is something sinister happening in the small town of Olvido Texas and it’s up to Solitario and Onawa to find out what before the tension between Mexican, Anglo-American, and Apache residents boils over to a deadly end.

Taking place around the 1870’s it’s steep in Mexican and American History, fascinating South American lore, and brings to life the tension between Mexican, Anglo-American, and Apache residents living in the newly expanded Texas Territories. 

I absolutely loved listening to this story. I loved the mix and mention of both Mexican and Apache traditions and mysticism. The pacing of the story is spot on and I love the characters, especially Onawa and her fiery spirit. Each character felt unique and had their own voice. No cookie cutters here. The author does a fantastic job of building a sense of urgency at the crucial points, even teasing you with it at some point. I particularly appreciated how the author keeps Solitario's values constant and unweaving. When I think of a Caballero from days of old this is what I hoped they truly were. Men of honor, unwavering in their sense of justice, and above all fair and decent men. 5/5 stars!

I did listen as an Audible book, narrated by Gary Tiedemann.  Gary did an excellent job narrating this book.  His voice drew me in and immersed me in the story.  There is a fair bit of Spanish in this book and he did fantastic with his pronunciation.  

Thank you, NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to listen to this fantastic story!
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It is 1883, and Solitario has given up his badge to live a solitary life in West Texas. But when he is approached about a series of gruesome murders and abductions taking place in a border town, he begrudgingly decides to take up the badge once more. He slowly begins to uncover clues and learns more about the evil that threatens this town but also struggles against his own inner demons as he races against time. 

This was a unique work of magical realism set during the time of the United States’ Manifest Destiny. The author included details concerning the political and cultural strife during the time, focusing especially on racism and how that influenced the history of the west. These details, included with the setting, made for an immersive backdrop to the story that was well written.

Solitario was as lawful good a protagonist as they come. We were told so many times how noble and honorable and just he was, and wouldn’t you just know it, he never did anything wrong or illegal or even considered doing something bad even when it would have been justified. While this is fine, it makes for a bit of a boring and unrelatable protagonist, and it was super cheesy. He came across as more of an archetype than a real person. I didn’t find that any of the other characters really stood out, but they weren’t poorly written either.

I think the author tried to include too much in this work. The primary plot is about Solitario trying to solve the murders and locate the missing children. But there are many chapters with flashbacks giving us his backstory and details about his life up to this point. While they were great for character development and did eventually add to the primary plot, it took away from any horror, suspense, or sense of urgency that should have been built up from the gruesome murders and abductions. The pacing was just awful because of this and character monologues, making large chunks of the work feel unnecessary and boring. Similarly, the magical aspect of the work was much less involved than I was hoping it would be and it was the part I found the most interesting.

This read reminded me of old Westerns we watched growing up, but it was unfortunately not as well put together as I would have liked and was definitely not a work of horror. I do still recommend it to those interested in slow-burn mysteries or looking for a new take on classic westerns. My thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.
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I received an audiobook version from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  The narration was well done. Distinct character voices and wide variety of characters were done without sounding stereotypical.  Clear and concise narration. I listened at 1.5x speed. 

One part history lesson and one part ghost story, this paranormal western had me mesmerized from the very beginning. A reluctant hero, a unrequited love interest, a set of unique characters, and dashes of the supernatural all were added to create a beautifully woven tale.
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FIVE EPIC STARS!

Oh I have been gifted one of the most wonderful books I've ever read!

And I have read HUNDREDS! And I don't read westerns, but this was SO MUCH MORE THAN A WESTERN! So much more than anything!.

Rudy Ruiz just became one of my all-time fav authors. I cannot wait to read more of his work! This was everything I could have ever asked for in a book, as if I had given Rudy a wish list and he had made all those wishes come true! The perfect book! So cinematic!

If you enjoy historical mysteries/horror/ paranormal stories with plenty of marvelous characters, that are atmospheric, and nostalgic but also mysterious, suspenseful, ghostly, dark, and brutal like "One Hundred Years of Solitude", "The House of the Spirits" , “Like Water for Chocolate" , “The Hacienda” , "Certain Dark Things" , "Things We Lost in the Fire" , “Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery”, “the Year of the Witching”, "The Wind", "Ravenous", "Apostle" , and "The VVitch: A New-England Folktale"

THEN YOU WOULD PROBABLY LOVE THIS BOOK AS MUCH AS I DID!

The writing is just superb! Lyrical, poetic, just beautiful! The descriptions, breathtaking!

It took me forever to get through the audiobook because I kept rewind it to experience the settings again just to get lost in the beautiful imagery, immerse in the sensory experience daydreaming and have to rewind once again!

I could actually see the beautiful sunsets, feel the heat of the desert, inhale the dry dust lifted by the horses and smell the manure!

Then there was storytelling. Oh my god, so engrossing!

I also had to rewind many times to experience again every scene, every dialogue delivered in both perfect Mexican accented Spanish and Texas accented English, every romantic and haunted moment, historical fact of the life in the border in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and cultural aspect so perfectly represented!

Then, last but not least, All the magic, the fantasy, the myths, the legends and the folklore of both cultures!

BUT, OF COURSE, THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TALES WHERE HUMANS ARE THE WORST MONSTERS!

This is a multigenerational epic saga as vast as the desolate landscapes where is set, a classic in the making!
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Valley of Shadows takes place in a small town on the Rio Grande a few years after the second Franco-Mexican War, The town was in Mexico and Solitario Cisneros was the sheriff. Then the river jumped its banks and moved south, the town is stranded in the Texas desert and Solitarios pregnant wife is dead.

Solitario sees spirits and he just wants to be left alone on his ranch hoping to catch glimpses of his dead wife. But evil comes to the town of Olvido, and families are murdered in sick rituals. Solitario is forced to come out of retirement went his friend and his friend’s family is murdered. 

The backstory of Solitario is rich and interesting. The time period and locale is fascinating, The magical realism of old Mexico and Apache cultures provides depth and color. But the storyline, despite the horrific murders, is a little plodding. The villian never quite materializes as a strong figure and The whodunnit part of the narrative is the least interesting part.
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I was hooked on this book from the very beginning! Picked this out as a light, quick read, but was entranced immediately! Start to finish took me 3 days because I was OBSESSED with the story! Definitely interested in reading more by Rudy Ruiz and was a big fan of the writing style. Unpredictable plot twists through the whole book and many, many events I didn’t see coming! As for complaints- personally, I’d like a little more horror and a little less of the “magic” because it feels out of place in this story. It seems like an afterthought to add some fantasy elements to this story that don’t quite fit with the rest of the plot. There are parts of the story where the magic saves the day, but I feel like there were easier and more consistent ways to do so. I think that more terror would have added the finishing touch to keep me hooked even more, but that’s just what would make it perfect for ME, not everyone. I feel that this is a perfect mix of horror, fiction, mystery, thriller, and just a sprinkle of enchantment for most people. I’ve already recommended this book to several people and can’t wait to hear what they think. The narrator for the audiobook was 10/10 amazing as well.
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