Valley of Shadows
by Rudy Ruiz
Narrated by Gary Tiedemann
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Pub Date 20 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 15 Nov 2022
A visionary neo-Western blend of magical realism, mystery, and horror, Valley of Shadows sheds light on the dark past of injustice, isolation, and suffering along the US-Mexico border.
Solitario Cisneros thought his life was over long ago. He lost his wife, his family, even his country in the late 1870s when the Rio Grande shifted course, stranding the Mexican town of Olvido on the Texas side of the border. He’d made his brooding peace with retiring his gun and badge, hiding out on his ranch, and communing with horses and ghosts. But when a gruesome string of murders and kidnappings ravages the town, pushing its volatile mix of Anglo, Mexican, and Apache settlers to the brink of self-destruction, he feels reluctantly compelled to confront both life, and the much more likely possibility of death, yet again.
As Solitario struggles to overcome not only the evil forces that threaten the town but also his own inner demons, he finds an unlikely source of inspiration and support in Onawa, a gifted and enchanting Apache-Mexican seer who champions his cause, daring him to open his heart and question his destiny.
As we follow Solitario and Onawa into the desert, we join them in facing haunting questions about the human condition that are as relevant today as they were back then: Can we rewrite our own history and shape our own future? What does it mean to belong to a place, or for a place to belong to a people? And, as lonely and defeated as we might feel, are we ever truly alone?
Through luminous prose and soul-searching reflections, Rudy Ruiz transports readers to a distant time and a remote place where the immortal forces of good and evil dance amidst the shadows of magic and mountains.
A Note From the Publisher
“Ruiz’s engaging tale, peppered generously with Spanish words and smoldering with racial tension and classism, is immersive and atmospheric and features an interesting cast of characters with rich backstories. Ruiz deftly combines elements of romance, historical mystery, horror, and magical realism to deliver a richly satisfying adventure.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“Ruiz offers an engrossing blend of historical fiction, ghost story, and mystery…He employs elements of magic realism to haunting effect, and the depictions of human cruelty and injustice are unflinching…This has its rewards.”
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 39 members
What a phenomenal story. It was atmospheric, magical, haunting, heart-wrenching, and utterly thrilling.
The story unfolds across dual timelines--between Solitario's quest to solve the gruesome murders and kidnappings plaguing his small border-town and his younger years as child, a solider, and a lawman. With each flashback, the story falls into a rhythm of exploring present events and then revealing the moments from Solitario's past that tie into them.
The mystery is engaging and there's some genuinely surprising and heart-breaking twists. I loved the elements of magical realism and the easy acceptance of the mystical and supernatural throughout. The audiobook narrator also did a really good job and imbued the story with a ton of emotion.
I was unfamiliar with Ruiz before this but am definitely looking forward to exploring more of his work.
Thank you to Blackstone Publishing - Audiobooks and NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book.
This was my first Ruiz book and I am hooked! Ruiz was able to intertwine history, myth and horror so seamlessly it seemed natural. This is not only one of my new favorite books of the year, but possibly top 10 of all time.
Valley of Shadows follows Solitario Cisneros who is asked to help solve a series of murders/kidnappings. Living alone and away from the town of Olvido he is reticent to go back due to various reasons. Has lost his wife and is still grieving her and because of a cursed placed upon him by his grandmother and all the men in his family his solution is to stay away from people as a way of protecting them and himself. Eventually Solitario decides to help along with Onawa an Apache and Mexican Seer. We follow their journey in trying to figure out what is happening, who is killing these people/taking them and what their ultimate plan is. The writing was beautiful it was so vivid it felt like I was right there with them. The detail in the murders was graphic at times so please be aware of that but it made the situation feel very real and provided a sense of urgency. I did not see the twist coming. I also really appreciate it that the author included history into this story. The setting is the US-Mexico border during the 1880s so you see what the interactions between the Anglo‘s, Mexicans, Indigenous peoples were like and how they were treated and seen. The addition of magical realism into the story provided a stronger tether to Mexican and Indigenous culture. I really enjoyed this narration and story. The ending did leave me a little bit wanting more. It felt a bit rushed and a little incomplete but other than that I was gripped from the beginning and found myself gasping and shouting while listening, definitely recommend. 4.5 ⭐️
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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