The Liar of Red Valley: Cover reveal and excerpt

We reveal the cover and an excerpt from Chapter One of Walter Goodwater’s The Liar Of Red Valley.

The Liar Of Red Valley

Walter Goodwater’s upcoming fantasy The Liar of Red Valley is out later this year and we’re delighted to exclusively reveal its amazing cover as well as a sneak look at the novel…

But first, here is a synopsis:

In Red Valley, California, you follow the rules if you want to stay alive. But even that isn’t enough to protect Sadie now that she’s unexpectedly become the Liar: the keeper and maker of Red Valley’s many secrets.

In a town like this, friendships are hard-won and bad blood lasts generations, and when not everyone in town is exactly human, it isn’t a safe place to make enemies.

And though the Liar has power — power to remake the world, with just a little blood—what Sadie really needs is answers: Why is the town’s sheriff after her? What does the King want from her? And what is the real purpose of the Liar of Red Valley?

If the cover isn’t enough to get you hyped up for The Liar Of Red Valley, then settle down and read an excerpt from Chapter One right here…

Chapter 1

Sadie never realized just how full of shit her mom was until the day she died. Of course she’d known her mom was a liar; her lies paid their bills. People would come from all over Red Valley to see her. They hated her – because she knew their secrets, because they needed her, because she hated them – but they still came, in beater trucks with rusted wheel wells or glossy Audis with no license plates, each winding up their dirt road to knock on the Liar’s door. And after a lifetime in Red Valley, her ledger was full of every dirty secret thing the people in town had ever tried to hide away.

When Sadie was younger and the customers came, her mom would say, “Why don’t you go play outside for a few minutes?”

She’d go, but she’d peeked in through grimy windows enough times to know how it worked. The customer would tell her mom the Lie they wanted to be true, and she’d write it down in her ledger. Then they paid her, usually cash – the Liar didn’t accept checks – but sometimes in barter: groceries, Lotto tickets, tuna casserole. Honest Bob, owner of Honest Bob’s Used Automotives, must have had a real whopper he needed telling – and didn’t want to touch his savings account – because he gave her mom the keys to the Mustang he’d driven up. She’d kept it for a few months then sold it back to him, said she didn’t like how the convertible top messed up her hair.

After her mom was satisfied with the offered payment, there was only one step left: they had to pay the Liar’s Price. This was probably what her mom didn’t want Sadie to see. She forgot that blood isn’t as scary to kids as it is to grownups.

Her mom would take out her pocketknife, clean the blade, then make the customer hold out their hand, though some people preferred she made the cut somewhere less conspicuous. In the end, she only needed a few drops, enough to smear next to the Lie written in her ledger, to seal the deal. People got out of there real fast after that. Maybe they didn’t like the sight of their own blood. Or maybe they didn’t want someone else to come down that dusty driveway and find them there. Sadie didn’t care either way. After a while, watching this forbidden ritual became a bore, so instead she’d go off and play make-believe in the dry oak trees that surrounded the tiny blue house. She liked to climb up in the twisted branches and pretend she was invisible, pretend she could see the whole world but they couldn’t see her. She’d sit up in the trees for hours and wonder what Lies she’d tell:

Everyone at school likes Sadie.

Sadie lives in a big house with a fireplace and a pool and a garden.

Sadie doesn’t feel lonely all the time.

So Sadie always knew her mom was a liar, but still she never expected she’d lie to her.     “Excuse me?”

Sadie blinked hard. Old memories of gnarled branches and blood soaking into paper scuttled away, replaced in a flash by the diner’s heavy air, greasy with French fry oil and floor cleaner. Sadie’s head swam for a moment, like she’d fallen asleep on her feet and woke just before toppling over.

The frowning man at table six was waving irritably at her. Sadie let the afterimages fade and slipped on a cheery smile – the most important part of the waitress’ uniform – as she came out from behind the bar.

“Excuse me,” he said again. He sounded like he didn’t much care for having to repeat himself. Calloused fingers drummed on the table. He glanced down at Sadie’s nametag but didn’t even bother to use her name. “I ordered that coffee ten minutes ago, sweetheart. I’m just wondering when I should expect it to arrive.”

A coil deep in her chest tightened a little. The smile threatened to bail, but Sadie locked it back into place. Working in Red Valley, you got used to the assholes. Some entitled, some bitter, and some just plain mean, every shift had a least a couple. Sadie didn’t know if the town drew them or bred them, but she’d learned to stop expecting better from people around here. Fake smiles, thick skin. Never look them in the eye, so you don’t have to remember their stupid faces when trying to sleep at night.

“I’m sorry about that,” Sadie said, her voice a little too sweet. “I’ll go get that right now. I think we’ve got a fresh pot going.”

He said something through his frown as she walked away but she didn’t listen. She could tell by the shape of the words that it would just make her want to pour the coffee on his lap instead of in a mug, and that wouldn’t end well for either of them. So she got the coffee and returned to his table, her smile never fading.

“Finally,” he said. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

There’s that irresistible Red Valley charm, Sadie thought, though then cringed immediately. Now she sounded like her mom and that was terrifying. The Liar could get away with casual disdain for everyone in town. Sadie on the other hand still worked for tips. Not that there was much hope for any this afternoon. Other than the cranky guy sucking coffee through his mustache, the diner was mostly empty, just a couple of the old-timers in the booth by the door, arguing about the drought and how the whole town was drying up under our feet like a raisin. Their tips usually came in the form of pocket-warmed pennies and dimes. The lunch rush had only been a couple hours ago, and she assumed it had been busy, but truthfully could barely remember.

Someone in a hairnet stuck their head out the door from the kitchen and called to her. “Phone call!”

Sadie wiped her hands on her apron and frowned. No one called her, not at work. She went through the flapping doors into the kitchen and was greeted by hot air scented with day-old bacon. The dishwashers were laughing in a corner while they broke down oily cardboard boxes, all except Javier, who had drawn the short straw again and was sweating over the grill, trying to find some clean metal under all that old black grease. The chefs were seeing how many times they could flip their spatulas in the air before catching them – or dropping them with a clatter. Denise, the owner and head waitress, glared at the chefs and pointed Sadie toward the phone hanging on the wall in the back.

“Sounded serious, hon,” was all she said.

“Hello?” Sadie said into the phone.

“Can you hear me? My name is Abagail, I’m a nurse down at St. Elizabeth’s, and we’ve got your mom in here…” Sadie listened to the rest without hearing it, and somehow was able to repeat enough to Denise for her to tell her to take the night off and go see her mom.

“You need a ride out there?” Denise asked. “I can send Javier.”

“No, that’s fine,” Sadie said. Her voice sounded like a stranger’s. “If I go now I can catch the bus.”

The Liar Of Red Valley by Walter Goodwater will be released on 30 September from Rebellion Publishing.