review

IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN – ANDY DAVIDSON

In the Valley of the SunIn the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

when the blurbs referenced cormac mccarthy, i thought this was going to have more of a western vibe to it, but it’s closer to No Country for Old Men than Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West on the mccarthy spectrum- it’s got the texas and brutality down pat, but it’s more crime than western in tone, so – alas, i am still jonesing for my vampire western fix.

the book is not afraid of a challenge, though – trying to make a sympathetic character out of a man who is a killer-of-women before he officially becomes inhuman in the vampiric way, when his intended next victim turns the tables and shows him what a real predator looks like.

it’s a pretty big ask, reader-sympathies-wise, and it doesn’t quite get there – one appreciates his occasional bloodlust-restraint, but it’s hard to forget what he was before he was turnt, no matter what his particular childhood damage may have been, and View Spoiler ».

‘course, i may be making assumptions about whether we’re meant to feel sympathetic towards him at all – there’s something about this book that’s resistant to expectations, if that makes sense. the pacing is slow, literary, but it doesn’t shrink away from the descriptives of the horror genre, and although it feels like something written much less-recently than a year ago, there are some all-new vampire moves here. it’s set in the 80s and there’s a late-70s early 80s vibe to the writing – a peter straub/thomas harris sensibility that i intend to be wholly complimentary – it seems to be a deliberate way of anchoring the story in its own timeframe and it works perfectly, and the whole vampires in the desert

and vampires at the amusement park

situations bring some beloved 80’s vampire references to my mind.

the backstories work really well as pauses holding the present-day action at arm’s length, and both rue’s story and travis in vietnam are gonna be stuck in my brain for a long time.

and Reader, the ‘grizzled Texas Ranger” with the nerdy name, i love him most of all.

so, gary oldman, you got what it takes to top this? bring it on!

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update – this book is quite possibly View Spoiler »

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since i fear Blood Riders is never going to come out…

read my reviews on goodreads

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