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In the Valley of the Sun

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  359 ratings  ·  86 reviews
A finalist for the 2017 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. 

An addictive Western literary horror for fans of Joe Hill, Cormac McCarthy, and Anne Rice.

One night in 1980, a man becomes a monster.

Haunted by his past, Travis Stillwell spends his nights searching out women in West Texas honky-tonks. What he does with them doesn’t make him proud, just q
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Skyhorse
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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  359 ratings  ·  86 reviews

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4.5/5 stars!

Rarely do I find myself struggling to find the words I want to say about a book, but today I am. Know why? Because IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN was so beautifully written, powerful, surprising and engaging.. Oh! Apparently, I CAN find the words if I try hard enough!

In this dark tale set during 1980, there's everything a horror lover could want. You've got a villain with so many layers to him, reading about him is like peeling an onion. There is no bad guy with a black hat here...well, ac
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 b
Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cemetery-dance
Ahhhhh! I get to write this five star review for Cemetery Dance! Writing it now!

(just buy the thing and read it, seriously. Thank me later)
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was sent to me by the author, and I buddy read it with my friends Sadie and Tracy. I had not heard about this book previous to it being sent to me, and after reading it, and learning that it was a finalist for the 2017 Bram Stoker Award, I'm shocked that I didn't know about it. So far this is my favorite read of 2019, and it's going to take something that literally knocks my socks off to take its place. Why are more people not talking about this fantastic novel??

This book is for me the
Holly (The Grimdragon)
“Travis lay the knife on the floor and shuffled forward on his knees like a man about to perform a tender act. He put his face between the girl's white legs and touched his lips to her wound, and his mouth filled instantly and he was forced to spit.


But there was something else now too, wasn't there? A warmth. A kindling.
He put his lips against the wound again and this time swallowed when his mouth had filled and the horror and revulsion he had imagined were not the things he felt. He felt on
Philip Fracassi
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre, horror
A novel about serial killers, vampires and family that reads almost poetic, albeit with lightning-flash bursts of violence and horror. Mr. Davidson is a rare stylist who can make even the most intense horror seem like a nasty daydream, one that lingers in the back of your mind for weeks afterward.

A lush, tense novel that felt to me like a combination of No Country for Old Men and Let the Right One In. And I can't think of higher praise than that. Highly recommended.
Jen (Book Den)
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: go-through
In the Valley of the Sun reminds me of my experience with The Girl with All the Gifts. I went into it not knowing what kind of horror book it was, and my experience was much better for it. In the Valley of the Sun never actually names the horror so I'm not going to either. My hope is that you will give it a chance without finding out too much about it. It's a really great book, but it's a great experience, too. One of my favorite things about In the Valley of the Sun was the slow unveiling of wh ...more
Chris Berko
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Monsters," he said. "The world's just full of monsters."

Who knew that a book about monsters drinking blood could be so... beautiful. I read about the comparisons to Cormac McCarthy but that was not what made me read this. The only McCarthy book I've read is Blood Meridian and to tell you the truth I thought it was kind of boring. I read this because a lot of people whose reviews I trust gave this high marks. This book is anything but boring, and I have to agree with those high marks. This has
Tracy Robinson
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“For him, the world was now a picture knocked crooked. He could barely judge the ground beneath his boots and the stars in the sky shimmered and blurred and became long straight lines of light, as if time itself were stretching to the breaking.”

In the Valley of the Sun
At the time of this review, it has been 11 days since I read the last sentence of this novel. I have no worries about forgetting anything as I write this, I’m still thinking about it daily. I was happy to buddy read this with a cou
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
It is inevitable, when one writes a dark novel about the contemporary west , he is going to be compared to Cormac McCarthy especially when the novel is steeped in literary prose. It makes sense since McCarthy is both very literary and usually quite dark. But in reviewing this particular work, I'm going to mention another name. Larry McMurtry, the author of Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show is the other modern master of the western novel. In my eyes, his novels, especially those of the cont ...more
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-list-2019
On my shortlist for favorite book of the year. An astonishing debut! Davidson takes a concept that’s been done to death and crafts it into something original and breathtaking. The writing is gorgeous, and the characters are truly alive. Not a page wasted. I can’t wait to see what he follows this up with, and you can bet your ass I’ll be the first in line to buy it. My highest recommendation! 😉
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written Western/Horror novel. Another Goodreads reviewer wrote "If Cormac McCarthy ever wrote a vampire novel, it would be like this book." I agree.

The story is about a serial-killer recently turned into a vampire, and the Texas Ranger who is searching for him. The characters are well-developed, and we see how the killer came to be what he is. Although it's very gory and violent, I still had to keep reading to find out what would happen to these characters. This is one of the better vampi
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, talk about your mommy issues! This guy, Travis Stillwell, has really big mommy issues. As a result, Travis is a serial killer who a vampire decides to fall in love with. Very messy. This book is definitely creepy, and nerve racking.

Travis is a drifter and he ends up staying in a motel/campground owned by a widow and her boy. He becomes obsessed with them. Again, mommy issues. Travis is haunted by his childhood. The owner hires him to do some clean up and handy work around the place. Meanwh
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If Cormac McCarthy ever wrote a vampire novel, it would be like this book.
This is one of the better written vampire novels I have ever read.
I would not say this is very scary, but the story is gripping and you need to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.
Highly recommended to not only vampire novel lovers but to anyone that likes a good story.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blood, bloody, bloodier, bloodiest...

It's 1980. Travis Stillwell lives life on the road, travelling from small town to small town in Texas, running from the memories of his earlier life, seeking something lost. Some nights he'll pick up a woman in a honky-tonk bar, but not for love – these women are victims, killed almost as a sacrifice to those demons he can't shake off. But one night he picks up Rue, a beautiful young woman who is more evil than even the horrors in his own mind – a woman searc
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: firstreads, mystery
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

A serial killer meets up with a woman and her son. Meanwhile, a Texas Ranger is after both of them.

It wa OK, but I didn't like it as much as most people seem to like it.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michelle Lancaster
Andy Davidson
In the Valley of the Sun: A Novel
Skyhorse Publishing
Hardcover, 978-1-5107-2110-4, (also available as an e-book), 384 pgs., $24.99
June 6, 2017

In the autumn of 1980, drifter Travis Stillwell washes up west of the Pecos in the fictional town of Cielo Rojo, Texas. After a surreal night at a local watering hole where he meets Rue, a young woman with “skin … light as bone, her hair as red as a fortunate sky,” Stillwell wakes covered in blood inside the camper on his rattletr
May 02, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was just too slow and draggy for me.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed with In the Valley of the Sun because the monster was not believable as a metaphor for the dark side within everyone and it’s seductive pull nor did the aberration work as an interesting or scary or even fun monster. There’s nothing to fault in Davidson’s use of language. This guy can write. That’s what kept me turning pages and hoping something wonderful or transforming would happen to the characters. The non scary widowed mother and her ten year old son provided the redeemin ...more
Eddie Generous
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Unnerving Magazine Review

Listen to my conversation with the author here:

In the Valley of the Sun is atmospheric and highly textured look at the humanity within the monster, with engaging and honest characters. Any flaws are minor, this book is extremely readable and, to pull a review cliche, difficult to put down. Dark, grim, and wholly entertaining.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book brought a Tom Waits line to mind.

'I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.'

I can't get enough of darkness written beautifully. If I had to quickly sum up this wonderful book, that would do it for me.

Set in 1980's West Texas, we meet Travis, a man who possesses a taste for killing women.

One night at a honky-tonk, Jimmy Wakely's 'My Heart Cries For You' issuing from the jukebox, his eyes snare a woman named Rue.

She's drawn to him, too.

One killer to another.

He awakes the
Thomas Flynn
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I wasn't sure what to expect when I first stepped into In the Valley of the Sun. From the outset, it read like a hardboiled rural noir, with sparse language, strung-out characters, and an attention to setting detail that remained, throughout, vibrant even at its dirtiest.

But what the story became was one of the best pieces of vampire fiction I've read in years. I'd be remiss in not admitting my bias; the component pieces of Davidson's novel checked off many of the boxes on my guilty-reading-ple
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure I was going to like this in the early stages, but it just kept getting better and better. The writing is really beautiful and the story, though a bit hackneyed, is handled quite well. Sort of like No Country for Old Men, but with vampires. This would make a really good movie in the right hands.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't a bad book but it's a terrible vampire novel.
Derik Cavignano
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was very well written.... darkly poetic and ominous. Davidson masterfully balances the macabre with raw emotional conflict. It was an unexpected tale and a very satisfying read with some great passages. I highly recommend it!!
Corabel Shofner
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up cold and wasn't sure what I was reading at first, which is one of my favorite ways to approach a book or movie. Flip it open and find the author loves Barry Hannah, that's a good sign. Andy Davidson even studied with Hannah. First chapter, is that girl dead? This is literary murder? A serial killer maniac murder? -- I'm a sucker for murder. And it's in Texas, now I'm totally hooked. Carmac McCarthy. And WHOA, here comes Stephen King and Anne Rice. Supernatural, blood, and ...more
D. Ward
I'm at a loss for words, but I'll try a few. Stunning. Lyrical. Brutal. Honest. Beautiful. Terrifying.
With IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN, Davidson has wrought so much more than just a vampire novel. That said, this is one hell of a vampire novel! And it's not hyperbole when I say this: IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN is *the* vampire novel of our time, bringing a depth of heart and nuance to the creature that stands Davidson up alongside legends like Bram Stoker. Hell, maybe he stands even taller. Every pag
Kitten Kisser
I've been reading horror novels since I was around 10 years old. As a result I've read some pretty terrible stuff, but overall, it's a genre I usually thoroughly enjoy even if it's not the best writing. With that said, this is a very (I hate the term in book reviews, & when I tend to see it used, rarely opt. to read said novel) atmospheric (there I said it) book. It held my interest despite feeling frustrated with it because I kept waiting for something to happen. This is not to say that not ...more
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: around-the-year
My first read of 2019. Overall a great book that I would recommend to people that enjoy horror novels.

This novel teases you at first, giving you glimpses of a man that has a troubled mind and a troubled past, until giving you more substance at the exact right moment.

Some minor spoilers:

(view spoiler)
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Born and raised in Arkansas, Andy Davidson is the Bram Stoker Award-Nominated author of In the Valley of the Sun. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the University of Mississippi. His work has appeared in print and online journals. He lives in Georgia with his wife and a bunch of unruly cats.
“It’s a hard thing on a man,” Calhoun offered, “to watch his dreams wither on the vine.” “A man’s dreams are hard on a woman, too, Mr. Calhoun.” 2 likes
“There is no comfort to be had in any truth here. I hope you’ll remember that when you write your reports.” 1 likes
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