Member Reviews

This was a really fast paced and enjoyable read. The terror throughout was well done and I had a great time.

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An adventure tale gone wrong, perfect for fans of THE RUINS and ECHO or anyone who has wondered what really happened at Dyatlov Pass! I enjoyed the pacing and was deeply creeped out!

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This Wretched Valley combines the intensity of The Descent with the paranormal aspects of The Shining and the camaraderie of The . When four brave souls attempt to discover uncharted territory for individualized personal gain, all hell breaks loose. The beginning pulled me in hard core. I love when we know what happens in the end and then the reader is taken on the journey of how we got there. This novel is perfect for horror fans, a refreshing take on the lost hiker novel.

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This Wretched Valley by Jenny Kiefer
Pub date: January 16, 2024

Wilderness/survival horror is my jam, any isolated/remote setting, any lost group with wicked beasties running amok, serial killer at a snowed in ski resort – what can I say? I’m smitten with it.

Dylan is a rock climber and just gaining ground as an influencer. When her friend Clay finds a rock in the Kentucky forest that nobody has ever documented, she knows this is her chance to make her mark in the climbing world. Dylan, along with her boyfriend, Luke, Clay, and Clay’s research aide, Sylvia, head out to the Kentucky forest to hike to the cliff face, all for different reasons.

Each characters POV pulls a little more out of the story and adds to the general feeling of dismay and confusion. There’s a lot of gore so if you’ve a weak stomach – be warned.

Really, going into this blind is the best. The synopsis gives some details but there’s so much more to the story. Saying anymore will be spoilerish and not going to do that. I’ll leave you with the three words below:

Chilling, insidious and sinister.

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This book is such a successful survival horror with a mix of science fiction and ghosts! A fun, creepy, and suspenseful read.

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I've been excited to read this book for months, and I was finally able to get through my more urgent reads (ones due back at the library soon) and get to it.

In the beginning, there are some signs that this is a first time author. I felt like at times she hit me over the head with the ultimate fate of our protagonists a bit hard, but we quickly move past that into the meat of the story. Also, there seem to be several horror references for the sharp eyed individual, that I enjoyed, even if they weren't intentional.

The story itself is wonderful. Survival in a land that REALLY doesn't want you to survive. The supernatural elements are clever, and felt almost natural for the first half, nothing so outlandish as to throw me out of the story.

Once everything picks up, it goes all out on the terror and gore. The little vignettes of other people who the land had taken were excellent additions as well.

Overall, I found it hard to put down, and truly enjoyed this book. I really hope to see more from this author in the future!

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Four people Clay, Sylvia, Dylan and Luke go into the forest and only bodies come back out...

This sounded like it was going to be interesting I like a survival story here and there so I figured why not? We start with 3 bodies being found and one person missing on a doomed trip charting a new place to rock climb. Admittedly I know nothing about rock climbing and I’m not outdoorsy at all still it sounded interesting...

Unfortunately for me it wasn’t interesting it was painfully boring and I couldn’t possibly bother to care about any of these people. The only smart one was the dog who knew they shouldn’t be there right away. For some people I’m sure this book is great but for me not so much.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Jenny Kiefer for providing me with a complimentary digital ARC for This Wretched Valley coming out January 16, 2024. The honest opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was suspenseful and mysterious. There were some high stakes involved. I think the writing was really good. There didn’t seem to be a lot of dialogue. I think I would’ve loved it more if there was more dialogue. That’s just my personal preference. There were also some choices made that didn’t seem to coincide with professional climbers. But I guess it’s a survival thriller for a reason.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys horror survival novels!

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Four young people start an expedition to document an undiscovered rock face, but something goes terribly wrong. Three of their bodies are found in mystifying condition 7 months later, with the fourth still missing. Were they somehow unprepared for the wilderness, have an accident befall them, or did something inexplicable happen?

I really liked this book. The amazing cover drew my attention right away, and the story starts with a bang. There are some serious spine-chilling moments where I needed to turn on all the lights. The desire to find out what happened to these characters had me frantically turning pages. The book was inspired by the Dyatlov Pass incident, which has always fascinated me. It was repetitive and meandering at points, but overall a very solid scary story. Thank you to Netgalley and Quirk Books for the chance to review this advance copy. This Wretched Valley is available for purchase everywhere you buy books now!

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This was the perfect wildness horror story, along the lines of The Ruins, The Troop, The Ritual, or even the movie As Above So Below. Or perfect for someone interested in the mysteries of The Dyatlov Pass.

The fear of the unknown was prevalent throughout--I was hooked from the first few pages. A thrilling and an absolutely gruesome, bloody ride that I didn't want to put down!!

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This Wretched Valley was a tense, horror-filled read that really increased my fears of the wilderness and what could be lurking in the dark forest. I wasn’t a fan of the outdoors prior to reading this book and I’m even less of a fan now!

Even though being trapped in the woods is a big fear of mine, I really loved the forest setting in this story. The setting was a big part of the book and it added a lot to the eerie atmosphere. I was so immersed in this story and there were many fear inducing moments that freaked me the heck out.

I thought this was a well written horror debut. I loved the author’s descriptive writing, especially the gore-filled horror scenes (even though they made me nauseous). Some of the characters were horrible and I was hoping they would succumb to the elements (sorry, not sorry..).

I definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of wilderness/survival horror.

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Being lost is a near-universal fear, and author Jenny Kiefer fully capitalizes on it in her debut novel, This Wretched Valley. Born of an idea she had in a climbing gym, she takes us on a harrowing journey into the wilds of her native Kentucky, where a group of 4 young people meet a tragic fate at the hands of unimaginable forces.

Geology student Clay has devised a method of using Lidar to locate hitherto unexplored climbing trails from a plane and intends to submit a paper about the technique as his thesis. When he discovers a promising peak, he and his research assistant Sylvia make plans to hike out and explore it in person. They will need someone to actually climb it however, and so he reaches out to his old friend Dylan, a rising star in the rock-climbing world with a sizable Instagram following and a brand-new sponsorship deal. She is eager to have such a rare feat under her belt and so quickly agrees to join the duo along with her boyfriend Luke.

The quartet has little difficulty locating the cliff. Though Sylvia finds the vast array of toxic plant life in the area unusual, they set up camp and being documenting and exploring their find. Strange accidents begin to befall the group however, leading up to Luke becoming critically injured after a fall. When they attempt to return to the car and get him to a hospital, they find themselves unable to exit the forest, consistently winding up back where they started. That is only the beginning of their nightmare though, as the woods harbor dark secrets and seemingly the very Earth itself wants them dead.

A sense of dread pervades the book from the very first word, keeping readers uneasy throughout. The characters aren’t especially well drawn, which can make it hard to feel much concern for their well-being, as does the unlikability of some of them, but the overall eeriness and grisly violence allow the novel to overcome that flaw and maintain a great deal of suspense. Kiefer does not pull any punches, so squeamish readers should probably stay away, but those who brave This Wretched Valley will be quickly hooked by the mystery of what exactly is happening within it. We never really get 100% of the answer. We do learn what fates befall our leads, but the author smartly avoids overexplaining the malevolence at work here. This is a case were less is definitely more and leaving us to wonder over the nature of the evil makes it far scarier.

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Other Books I Enjoyed by This Author: Debut

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Release Date: January 16th, 2024/Quirk Books

General Genre: Horror, Thriller, Suspense, Supernatural, Psychological

Sub-Genre/Themes: Inspired by a true story, Kentucky wilderness, hiking, rock climbing, brand ambassadors/influencers, discovering new terrain, missing, survival, (some animal death) ghosts,

Writing Style: multiple timelines, multiple POVs, does not pull punches-gory! Compelling, smart

What You Need to Know: This book is surprisingly gory. Not necessarily extreme horror but not far from it. If you are a reader who is particularly sensitive to cruelty and gore and some animal injury/death…be warned

My Reading Experience: Great opening. Unlikable characters (immediate call back to The Ruins by Scott Smith) That whole category of young people that believe they are invincible, they want to get rich and famous fast just by being YouTube or TikTok sensations.
The whole time, I was writing things in my journal about how all of these red flag were ignored. It’s fun, as the audience, to watch unsuspecting people stuff their gut instincts to stay the course. What’s a risk? Only their very lives!
But the pull of fame and recognition and accolades is so strong. I didn’t emotionally invest in anyone, just like The Ruins, so it does make what happens–tolerable, which is horrible to say haha. It’s more entertaining than it is devastating.
There is a bit of a Jeff Vandermeer (Area X trilogy) with the way nature seems insidious. But there is a psychological element here AND the supernatural. Maybe this book is so scary because of the opening. We know how this ends–so to rewind the clock to the beginning and watch, in detail, how events unfold is agreeing to bear witness to a bleak outcome with no hope. You already know.

Final Recommendation: One of the smartest survival horror stories I’ve read since The Ruins. The author thought of everything–the perfect inescapable threat preying on both the mind and the body.

Comps: The Ruins by Scott Smith (young adults stubbornly ignoring warning signs heading into disaster), Area X trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer (wicked, dangerous, alien/unknown natural threats), Event Horizon, 1997 movie (the psychological part of something preying on the mind and driving to insanity) and The Endless, 2017 movie (time loops, carnivorous geography, haunted land)

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Wow! I loved this book so much.
Inspired by Dyatlov Pass Incident. Creepy forest/survival horror with a supernatural twist.
This had some really great gore and detailed body horror. This has multiple timelines, but they were in short chapters and easy to follow. Also, multiple POVs that I really enjoyed following the story from different characters.

I wish we got to learn more about the earth, I found this to be really intresting but like with Dyatlovs Pass incident you're also left wondering what really happened and i think that really works for this book.

I feel like this could have a follow-up book #2? At least, that's what I'm hoping.

Read this if you like: multiple POV, multiple timelines, creepy forests/wilderness, survival, supernatural, short chapters, gore and body horror, unsettling books, and books that make you go "wtf just happened?"

Thank you to Netgalley and Quirk for sharing a digital copy to read. As always, opinions are my own.

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3.5 stars rounded up. I received a free ebook ARC from Quirk Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This story follows 4 friends in Kentucky on a mountain climbing trip to explore an uncharted area. Clay is a grad student working on a thesis project, Sylvia is taking detailed notes, and Dylan a signed mountain climber and social media personality along with her boyfriend Like and his dog Slade. What we know from the beginning is the trip ends in disaster, what we learn is how everything went down.

I find myself drawn to books like this similar to The Ruins or The Luminous Dead, books where people are stranded. They are memorable for the detailed settings and fear inducing atmosphere. The gore factor was high in this story and the dread was palpable. I would have liked more from the backstory / flashbacks that were woven into the current disaster, so I had a better understanding if the dark elements.

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This thrilling survival horror with a nod to the Dyatlov Pass Incident, is destined to be a top Horror read of 2024 for me. Thank you for a gory, chilling, tension-filled ride with well fleshed-out characters.
Thank you all for the ARC. Looking forward to whatever Jenny does next.

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5 overall!

The cover alone is what drew me to this book and then I read the summary and I was sold. The Dyatlov Pass mystery is an insane and weird unsolved mystery that I’m obsessed with and keeps me up at night thinking about. It has so many theories and I love that this book took its own take on it. I was hooked from the start and couldn’t put it down. The multiple POV’s really added to the mindset of each character and how it all played a part in the story. It was definitely weird, creepy, and gory and I loved every bit of it. It was a little repetitive at times which made it feel like it dragged just a bit but overall it was a quick read.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to any horror lover, true crime fan, and climber who wants a good creepy story!

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I really enjoyed this book! The story was compelling right from the beginning. The author did a great job at revealing just enough to keep me reading to find out what happened. The characters were complex, and I vacillated between sympathy and loathing and back again. I definitely look forward to Kiefer's next book!


For those who need to know about the dog: it's not entirely clear if he lives or dies, which somehow makes it worse.

Thank you to NetGalley for the free ARC!

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Thank you to the publisher for my copy - all opinions are my own.

This Wretched Valley is absolutely phenomenal horror - gruesome, intense, gritty, atmospheric, claustrophobic, terrifying - I devoured this book in one long afternoon, as I was completely hooked from the beginning.

Inspired by the Dyatlov Pass incident, and transplanted into the vast and unknowable wilderness of Kentucky, this is a story of supernatural haunting and desperate, dwindling, scraping efforts to stay alive in the face of something that cannot be understood. I loved everything about this book from the pacing, to the characters, to the vivid writing and atmospheric tension that ratcheted with each day the group spent first thrilled to have found unchartered territory, then lost, and then trapped by an area of the woods they never should have entered. Jenny Kiefer knows how to make horror jump off the page and grab you by the throat, and I was thoroughly absorbed by this one.

No spoilers - but truly, this is a must have for horror lovers, and anyone who loves a supernatural twist. Guaranteed to keep you glued to the page with entertainment while we battle away long winter days.

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Title: This Wretched Valley by Jenny Kiefer

Publication Date- 01/16/24
Publisher- Quirk Books
Overall Rating- 5 out of 5 stars

This Wretched Valley was my choice for episode 5 of season 2 of my booktube series titled “what the bleep did I just read.” This was the most fitting book I have chosen to date. What an effed up book in all the right ways. This book pushed me out of my comfort zone and though at times I thought I was going to puke I loved every second of it (I think that says something about me and my entry into horror). I recommend anyone coming into this check out the triggers because there are quite a few and some that people may change their minds about reading. With that being said, my biggest trigger was in here and I managed it fine. Though I did find myself reading those parts quicker to get through it, I never felt that I needed to put the book down.

I really enjoyed the way this book wove in elements of the land and it’s past. I also described this as “dizzying,” at times I wasn’t sure which way was up. I can’t really expand on that element without going into spoiler territory but if you read it you will see what I mean.

Let’s move into some things I made note of. The body horror is no joke, at least for someone who is newish in the horror genre. I used to be an EMT and still found myself ready to puke and I LOVED IT. I would say I read 60 percent of this story with my hand covering my mouth. A plot device I am learning that I really enjoy is going into a story knowing some or all characters are dead then going back in time, getting to know them and their parts in the story knowing all along they are going to die. This Wretched Valley nails this element.

I think the only people who may end up disappointed could be those who read the description and think this will be more in the vein of a true crime/ thriller story.

Solid horror, loved it, will read from the author again. Thanks Jenny, for building my tolerance to body horror and effed up scenes. I loved it.

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