Member Reviews

I freaking loved this book! Spooky and with a great cast of characters! Full review to come. Definitely five stars!

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This Wretched Valley follows Dylan, an up and coming rock climber, her boyfriend Luke, Clay, a college student researching for his degree, and Sylvia, Clay's research companion. We see our group enter the Kentucky wilderness to research and climb a new rock wall that Clay discovered when flying overhead using a new technology. Although we already know this trip will end in tragedy, the group goes into the valley with their own hopes and dreams that will quickly be shattered.

Overall I liked This Wretched Valley. I do think it was a little repetitive and I would have loved more lore on why the valley is the way it is. I also wasn't the biggest fan of the ending. But overall the atmosphere the author created was eerie and tense, making be terrified for the next scene.


Thank you to NetGalley and Quirk Books for the ARC!

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This felt so repetitive which I understand is part of the point but I was going crazier than the characters who were very one-dimensional. Also, since when do ghosts need weapons that are real? All of this could've been solved if they weren't white folks in a horror book.

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I am always looking for more survival horror, especially ones set in a forest or some woods, and as soon as I read the synopsis for this one I knew it was the one for me.

I wasn't wrong. It had the suspense and the tense atmosphere I love, along with the survival aspect. I loved to hate most of the characters straight away (except Slade obv) and couldn't wait to see what happened to them next.

The book starts off based around rock climbing, which was a nice new spin on this kind of book (for me anyway) and then descended into madness, with similarities to The Ruins (one of my absolute faves) and The Blair Witch (also one of my absolute faves).

I highly recommend picking this one up.

✩✩✩✩✩

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What a book! Highly recommend, easy 5stars from me. This is survival horror inspired by The Dyatlov Pass Incident. I also had The Ruins vibes.

4 people enter the kentucky wilderness to climb an undiscovered rockface. Months later 3 bodies are discovered..what happened?

With supernatural elements, this is a fast-paced read that you won't want to put down until you've finished! Loved it!

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Dylan Prescott is a climbing and wilderness influencer on the verge of her big break. She's signed with an outdoor company and her friend Clay has found a rock hidden in the Kentucky wildnerness. It hasn't been mapped yet, and Dylan has the chance to map the climb and the routes. She heads to the site with her boyfriend, Luke, Clay and Sylvia, both PhD candidates whose research at the site could give them the dissertation materials they need. But the area has long-kept secrets, and seven months later, when their bodies are discovered, there will be questions and no answers. Moving back and forth between present day and the history of the area, Kiefer creates a tense story of creeping evil.

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The book started out strong with an interesting premise and likable characters. However it got pretty repetitive towards the end with both boys getting possessed and wanting to murder their female friends (why didn't the females get blood lust) and every character involved in a different chase scene that ends with them tripping on a root. I loved the lore of the valley and the historical flashbacks and wish there could have been more. I did love the narration from the valley's point of view. It made for a unique villain.

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Thanks to Quirk Books for the digital galley of this book.

When four climbers went out into the Kentucky wilderness, and seven months later, no one expected to find their bodies seven months later. Furthermore, their bodies are discovered in various states of decay. After only seven months, this seems odd. Ome’s left aeached skeleton, another is missing all of its organs, and a third has its eyes, tongues, ears, and fingers removed. The fourth climber, Dylan, is missing. Her Instagram feed shows disturbing livestreams, and some followers report seeing her vanishing in the woods. What happened? Is Dylan alove, and does she have the answers?

I’m lowkey obsessed with the Dyatlov Pass incident, so when I read this book was inspired by it, I had to read it. I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped, but it’s possible I went in with too high expectations. For a horror thriller with a mystery at its heart, it’s pretty good. I was entertained and wanted to know what really happened. I just didn’t love it quite like I expected.

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Harrowing; a trip filled with excitement, hopes, and inevitably, gore and death. I enjoyed watching the group approach and dance around all the weird things happening, and felt like the gore level was spot on. My biggest issue was how wordy and repetitive it seemed to get in the middle. I also wish it had more background on why that valley was evil.

All in all, three stars.

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This Wretched Valley is an eerie and unsettling survival horror that is laced with elements of folk horror. I loved the genre combination and how Kiefer personified the land as a catalyst to many of the character’s misfortunes. In true horror fashion, don’t look for a happy ending but rather a stressful reliving of what our victims endured in the days leading up to their mysterious deaths. What starts as an exciting and hopeful endeavor amongst friends ends in blood, betrayal and regret. It was dark, scary, gruesome and addictive. I liked the flashbacks from different moments in the history of the land and thought that added an interesting flair to the narrative. I was excited to get my hands on this one and can say it did not disappoint. I’ll definitely be reading more from this author.

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I kept hearing about this book from so many other people that read horror. And let me just say, I need to start reading the synopsis lol Because this was good, but the beginning had me a bit worried. But for the most part it was ok.

Ok so the main reason I said it was just ok was because it took too long to get to the good stuff. Or the explanations about what happened anyway. It just took too long and I was annoyed by that. Especially since I didn’t know about what the story was actually about lol I think Even still we aren’t really told what’s happening until like 50% in to the book. And by then I already had an idea. But finally, when things began happening, it picked up considerably.

Once it picked up the book just basically never stopped. The different timelines that were revealed in this was crazy. And the things that happened during those times?! CRAZY. I was glad that Kiefer gave us the actual scenarios of what happened in the book. If it had just been a little information here and there, I don’t think it would have hit the same. It still would have been scary, because these things were just crazy overall. But I don’t think it would have been as crazy if we didn’t have all the details.

The plot itself was a little boring because this was a very character driven story. All of them were there for different reasons, but they also had all these weird ass things going on too. And man, it changed them all. But who wouldn’t change when things like ghosts from the past are coming for you in the woods that you can’t seem to make your way out of…..

Then there was the ending. I liked it, but it seemed so abrupt. I think I would have liked it better if there was some chapters, or even just a chapter from the end that was from the land’s POV. There is some time that was there, but it’s not much. Basically just what that last character was from. But Idk, I wanted more. It really should have been it’s own, living, breathing character throughout the story.

This book didn’t exactly live up to the hype for me, but it was still an enjoyable read. I can certainly see what made the hold list for this so long. I hope that if you pick it up, you enjoy it more than me.

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This is a really great horror book! It has a unique story and moves at a perfect pace. This has genuinely creepy moments that were so much fun to read. This is one of my favorite books I have read this year! I highly recommend this! Special Thank you to Jenny Kiefer, Quirk Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a survival horror book reminiscent of Dyatlov Pass and the Donner Party. The writing is elegant and visceral. There were portions of the book that dragged on, but it was still engaging.

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Jenny Kiefer puts a cool twist on the horror trope of a group of four young people caught up in a horrifying and deadly situation. The opening chapter is a summary of found bodies, confusion about the condtion of the bodies and how they died along with one person still missing. Dylan is a rock climber excited about the find of an unknown cliff in the Kentucky wilderness. Along with her boyfriend Luke, Luke's dog, and two research friends the four young people hike along with the help of a GPS to find the cliff. Things go sideways when they seem to be lost, the dog goes missing and they begin to see weird plants and hear noises. Kiefer pulls out all the stops by incorporating supernatural ghosts, violent deaths and the fear of being trapped with no escape. Readers know the end result but the fun is how it all happens. Savvy readers will link This Wretched Vally with Scott Smith's book The Ruins published in 2006.

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I wanted to like this book since I devour hiking/camping gone bad reddit posts but I could not bring myself to care about anyone in this book. Bad case of Bird Box-itis where every character is two dimensional to the point of absurdity. I didn't mind the gore but it had the emotional impact of watching a paper doll get eaten by a bunny -- just weird and not especially engaging.

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While the author herself claims inspiration from the Dyatlov Incident, This Wretched Valley has themes which make me think The Donner Party story lent inspiration to the story’s premise as well. What better premise for a nature driven horror story than terrifying unexplained occurrences and the horrible things they can drive humans to do to each other.

This novel focuses on themes of land cursed by human greed. Themes of man’s misguided belief that any “unclaimed” land is theirs for the taking and nature’s hungry response and desire to remain unblemished by man’s touch.

Personally I loved the themes of this novel, but there is plenty of horror and gore as well. Nature can be terrifying enough on its own, throw in some cannibalistic ghosts and a morphing forest which imparts an infectious rage on those who dare to claim it and you basically have a nature based slasher.

My only dislike with this novel was that I felt that the horror was a little all over the place with what seemed like many partially developed stories. If you know me you know I like a fully fleshed out story with my horror and I feel that this could have used a little more work here. Some of the chase/fight scenes were a little too drawn out and repetitive for me.

Something I have been living for lately, and which this novel certainly provides, is the author’s incorporation of personal knowledge or expertise. I’m also reading Mad Honey right now, and the amount of bee keeping knowledge I’ve been presented with has my mind buzzing. In this case, Jenny Kiefer uses her personal rock climbing experience, which I think adds more depth to the story through imparting lived experience onto her characters, down to the minute details that only a rock climber would know. I also think this is a great example of how you absolutely can learn through reading fiction.

This Wretched Valley is a very recent release from January, so it’s a great addition to any 2024 horror TBR. This is going to be a great read for anyone who is into survival horror, for me it had a lot of similarities to The Southern Reach Trilogy, but with much more of a paranormal aspect to it.

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This Wretched Valley was an excellent, spooky read and I really enjoyed it! Inspired by the Dyatlov Pass, the book opens with a documentary-esque recounting of how the bodies of (most of) our protagonists were discovered and forensic details. I thought that this was a fun way to open the book, and it helped to build the dread and hopelessness as you went through the book, as you knew that the characters weren’t going to survive.

There are a lot of fun, spooky elements to the story; a haunted forest, body horror, survival horror, characters descending into madness and all in all Jenny Kiefer weaves these elements into the book in a really engaging and creepy way. The book is multi-POV, and whilst I’ve not always enjoyed multi-POV horror books in the past, I enjoyed this one a lot as I think Kiefer did it well.

Overall, I’d give it 4.25 stars and would definitely recommend it!

I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review – thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and everyone else involved.

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I really loved this book - it’s like if The Ruins met The Descent, also inspired by the Dyatlov Pass incident! This Wretched Valley follows four friends who trek into the Kentucky wilderness to explore a newly discovered climbing rock. The gore was top notch and it was so trippy and messed up! A brilliant survival horror novel that really did leave me quite unsettled at points.

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This book was inspired by the Dyatlov Pass which I’ve always been fascinated by (if you don’t know what that is, Google it and go down a rabbit hole that will keep you busy for hours). I breezed through the beginning portion of this novel, as I find rock climbing (and mountain climbing) very fascinating (probably because I don’t partake in it so I can live vicariously through characters who do!). The moment the four friends arrive at the valley, strange things begin to happen. I find forests pretty intimidating and scary so the setting was definitely creepy for me and I enjoyed that. I loved the history behind the forest and what occurred before the friends arrived there (that we got to learn later on in the book). There are many scary moments in this novel that horror fans will absolutely love. The only snag I had was that towards the middle mark the novel became a little repetitive when the friends kept going around in circles in the woods (and that’s probably the point) but for a debut, this was a strong novel. Not to mention that I haven’t read too many books that have a sentient forest ready to unleash its fury upon those who dare trespass on it.

Horror fans (especially those who love gore) will love this novel. I think it’d make an excellent movie too!

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Quirk Books for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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A strong debut that's part haunted house story/part survivalist horror. Definitely an up and comer in horror. Full review here: https://bewarethescarylibrarian.blogspot.com/2024/01/new-arrival-this-wretched-valley-by.html

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