Complex, Heartfelt, a Sickly Noir That Horrifies with Everyday Banality

I am a woman of many vices, this I have accepted. One of my more nefarious foibles is a rather obsessive love of all things noir; the darker, seedier and more brutal the better. I am also a lover of horror, in all it’s terrifying forms. Anything which explores the seedy underbelly of humanity is sure to get my pulse racing and make me cackle maniacally with wicked glee. Add to that a southern gothic spin and I’m practically foaming at the mouth.

The tantalising tome in my grubby grasp this time satiates these dark desires. In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson, is published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband, which publishes an eclectic range of crime, thriller and mystery writing. Eclectic is surely an apt description here for a tale described as an “atmospheric, cinematic tale of horror and psychological suspense” from a writer portrayed as the love child of Stephen King and James Lee Burke.

Born and raised in Arkansas, Davidson graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in 2004 and has published a range of stories online and in print including work published in Drunken Boat, Carve magazine and Santa Clara Review. He is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and Mystery Writers of America. This is his first novel.

“…a face floating behind the dirty glass, a face like a white sharp moon, framed between white sharp fingers. Red eyes like the ragged cherries of the cigarettes they smoked.”

The real question is how many lives he will destroy before his inevitable destruction

In the Valley of the Sun is at its sickly noir heart, a bone chattering horror; however, it is a complex, deeply heartfelt one, which grabs the reader in its frightful teeth and doesn’t let go. Davidson demonstrates an ability to conjure up monstrously lovely visions which thrill and seduce.

What makes In the Valley of the Sun so deliciously chilling is the everyday banality of the grisly events, a journey along a dusty, sun-baked highway leading to the quiet, every day stillness of a run-down motel, the seedy nights spent in honky tonks and the claustrophobic misery of living in a trailer filled with blood and nightmares. Following Travis Stillwell, a stoic, dark cowboy on a journey of slaying chaos, In the Valley of the Sun charts his gruesome exploits and his chance meeting with a monster hellbent on his acquisition.

Disappearing into the desert Travis’ dangerous new reality intersects with Annabelle, a widow with a young son trying to start again. Pursued by a battle-scarred Texas Ranger, desperate to capture the man violently attacking women across the Texan landscape, Travis’ time is running out. The real question is how many lives he will destroy before his inevitable destruction.

“I’m drowning in his troubles…A man’s dreams are hard on a woman too…”

The bone deep, tiring slog of being a woman tied for better or worse to a man is highlighted here by Davidson’s graphic, fetching style. It is impossible to escape the harsh reality of the subjugation and objectification of women defined by their relationships with men who use, abuse and abandon them. 

All the women in Travis’s life, from his mother to the girl who shaped his grisly kink and those who fall prey to the fiend beneath the cowboy hat, exist only in as much as they feed his insatiable need. The exceptions to this are Annabelle and Rue, not hazy apparitions painted in brushstrokes of dreamy violence but tangible articles of flesh and blood. There is a sinister, greedy justice to be had as Travis, a man who has spent a lifetime preying on women, is hunted by a far greater power and left to feel the sickening thump of victimisation.

“I hate you, he thought, as she slept. You are not the thing I want, you are not the things I lost.”

 

 

Davidson has conjured up an enigmatic stranger, original and tantalising

Travis’ love is a horrible twisted thing, a beast of wicked machinations which moves as stealthily as a wolf, ready at any moment to strike at your throat. In Rue he more than meets his match, in her he finds an age-old predator, driven by blood and the will to survive. Forced into a painful reality of Rue’s making, Travis is a man hunted by authorities and haunted by his past.

Vivid, wince inducing prose illuminates everyday terror and horror which is insidiously bound with unbearable sadness and the grinding tedium of daily living in a world which has forgotten you. Davidson’s powerful evocation of the harsh landscape, alongside his use of sparse dialogue creates a wistful reverie punctured by garish splashes of gore and dread.

In the cultural wasteland of tragic vampire tales, so far removed from those nightmarish visions of yore, Davidson has conjured up an enigmatic stranger, original and tantalising, sure to tempt even the purest of heart into its ghoulish embrace.

In the Valley of the Sun is a grisly love note to the vampire genre and a cinematic masterpiece with moments of heart stopping horror and aching tenderness. Violence, bloodshed and macabre characters will keep even those hardened to the nightmares lurking in the dark awake deep into the night. 

In the Valley of the Sun written by Andy Davidson, published by Contraband is available now.

I am a woman of many vices, this I have accepted. One of my more 
nefarious foibles is a rather obsessive love of all things noir; the darker, 
seedier and more brutal the better. I am also a lover of horror, in all it’s 
terrifying forms. Anything which explores the seedy underbelly of 
humanity is sure to get my pulse racing and make me cackle maniacally 
with wicked glee. Add to that a southern gothic spin and I’m practically 
foaming at the mouth.  
The tantalising tome in my grubby grasp this time satiates these dark 
desires. In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson, is published by 
Contraband, an imprint of Saraband, which publishes an eclectic range of 
crime, thriller and mystery writing. Eclectic is surely an apt description 
here for a tale described as an “atmospheric, cinematic tale of horror and 
psychological suspense” from a writer portrayed as the love child of 
Stephen King and James Lee Burke. 
Born and raised in Arkansas, Davidson graduated with a Master of Fine 
Arts in Creative Writing in 2004 and has published a range of stories 
online and in print including work published in Drunken Boat, Carve 
magazine and Santa Clara Review. He is an active member of the Horror 
Writers Association and Mystery Writers of America. This is his first novel.  
“…a face floating behind the dirty glass, a face like a white sharp moon, 
framed between white sharp fingers. Red eyes like the ragged cherries of 
the cigarettes they smoked.” 
The real question is how many lives he will destroy before his inevitable 
destruction 
In the Valley of the Sun is at its sickly noir heart, a bone chattering 
horror; however, it is a complex, deeply heartfelt one, which grabs the 
reader in its frightful teeth and doesn’t let go. Davidson demonstrates an 
ability to conjure up monstrously lovely visions which thrill and seduce.  
What makes In the Valley of the Sun so deliciously chilling is the everyday 
banality of the grisly events, a journey along a dusty, sun-baked highway 
leading to the quiet, every day stillness of a run-down motel, the seedy 
nights spent in honky tonks and the claustrophobic misery of living in a 
trailer filled with blood and nightmares. Following Travis Stillwell, a stoic, 
dark cowboy on a journey of slaying chaos, In the Valley of the Sun 
charts his gruesome exploits and his chance meeting with a monster 
hellbent on his acquisition.  
Disappearing into the desert Travis’ dangerous new reality intersects with 
Annabelle, a widow with a young son trying to start again. Pursued by a 
battle-scarred Texas Ranger, desperate to capture the man violently 
attacking women across the Texan landscape, Travis’ time is running out. 
The real question is how many lives he will destroy before his inevitable 
destruction. 
“I’m drowning in his troubles…A man’s dreams are hard on a woman 
too…” 
The bone deep, tiring slog of being a woman tied for better or worse to a 
man is highlighted here by Davidson’s graphic, fetching style. It is 
impossible to escape the harsh reality of the subjugation and 
objectification of women defined by their relationships with men who use, 
abuse and abandon them.  
 
All the women in Travis’s life, from his mother to the girl who shaped his 
grisly kink and those who fall prey to the fiend beneath the cowboy hat, 
exist only in as much as they feed his insatiable need. The exceptions to 
this are Annabelle and Rue, not hazy apparitions painted in brushstrokes 
of dreamy violence but tangible articles of flesh and blood. There is a 
sinister, greedy justice to be had as Travis, a man who has spent a 
lifetime preying on women, is hunted by a far greater power and left to 
feel the sickening thump of victimisation. 
“I hate you, he thought, as she slept. You are not the thing I want, you 
are not the things I lost.” 
Davidson has conjured up an enigmatic stranger, original and tantalising 
Travis’ love is a horrible twisted thing, a beast of wicked machinations 
which moves as stealthily as a wolf, ready at any moment to strike at 
your throat. In Rue he more than meets his match, in her he finds an 
age-old predator, driven by blood and the will to survive. Forced into a 
painful reality of Rue’s making, Travis is a man hunted by authorities and 
haunted by his past.  
Vivid, wince inducing prose illuminates everyday terror and horror which 
is insidiously bound with unbearable sadness and the grinding tedium of 
daily living in a world which has forgotten you. Davidson’s powerful 
evocation of the harsh landscape, alongside his use of sparse dialogue 
creates a wistful reverie punctured by garish splashes of gore and dread.  
In the cultural wasteland of tragic vampire tales, so far removed from 
those nightmarish visions of yore, Davidson has conjured up an enigmatic 
stranger, original and tantalising, sure to tempt even the purest of heart 
into its ghoulish embrace.  
In the Valley of the Sun is a grisly love note to the vampire genre and a 
cinematic masterpiece with moments of heart stopping horror and aching 
tenderness. Violence, bloodshed and macabre characters will keep even 
those hardened to the nightmares lurking in the dark awake deep into the 
night.  
In the Valley of the Sun written by Andy Davidson, published by 
Contraband is available​ now​.  
  
  
 
Explore

Toggle screen reader support

I am a woman of many vices, this I have accepted. One of my more 
nefarious foibles is a rather obsessive love of all things noir; the darker, 
seedier and more brutal the better. I am also a lover of horror, in all it’s 
terrifying forms. Anything which explores the seedy underbelly of 
humanity is sure to get my pulse racing and make me cackle maniacally 
with wicked glee. Add to that a southern gothic spin and I’m practically 
foaming at the mouth.  
The tantalising tome in my grubby grasp this time satiates these dark 
desires. In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson, is published by 
Contraband, an imprint of Saraband, which publishes an eclectic range of 
crime, thriller and mystery writing. Eclectic is surely an apt description 
here for a tale described as an “atmospheric, cinematic tale of horror and 
psychological suspense” from a writer portrayed as the love child of 
Stephen King and James Lee Burke. 
Born and raised in Arkansas, Davidson graduated with a Master of Fine 
Arts in Creative Writing in 2004 and has published a range of stories 
online and in print including work published in Drunken Boat, Carve 
magazine and Santa Clara Review. He is an active member of the Horror 
Writers Association and Mystery Writers of America. This is his first novel.  
“…a face floating behind the dirty glass, a face like a white sharp moon, 
framed between white sharp fingers. Red eyes like the ragged cherries of 
the cigarettes they smoked.” 
The real question is how many lives he will destroy before his inevitable 
destruction 
In the Valley of the Sun is at its sickly noir heart, a bone chattering 
horror; however, it is a complex, deeply heartfelt one, which grabs the 
reader in its frightful teeth and doesn’t let go. Davidson demonstrates an 
ability to conjure up monstrously lovely visions which thrill and seduce.  
What makes In the Valley of the Sun so deliciously chilling is the everyday 
banality of the grisly events, a journey along a dusty, sun-baked highway 
leading to the quiet, every day stillness of a run-down motel, the seedy 
nights spent in honky tonks and the claustrophobic misery of living in a 
trailer filled with blood and nightmares. Following Travis Stillwell, a stoic, 
dark cowboy on a journey of slaying chaos, In the Valley of the Sun 
charts his gruesome exploits and his chance meeting with a monster 
hellbent on his acquisition.  
Disappearing into the desert Travis’ dangerous new reality intersects with 
Annabelle, a widow with a young son trying to start again. Pursued by a 
battle-scarred Texas Ranger, desperate to capture the man violently 
attacking women across the Texan landscape, Travis’ time is running out. 
The real question is how many lives he will destroy before his inevitable 
destruction. 
“I’m drowning in his troubles…A man’s dreams are hard on a woman 
too…” 
The bone deep, tiring slog of being a woman tied for better or worse to a 
man is highlighted here by Davidson’s graphic, fetching style. It is 
impossible to escape the harsh reality of the subjugation and 
objectification of women defined by their relationships with men who use, 
abuse and abandon them.  
 
All the women in Travis’s life, from his mother to the girl who shaped his 
grisly kink and those who fall prey to the fiend beneath the cowboy hat, 
exist only in as much as they feed his insatiable need. The exceptions to 
this are Annabelle and Rue, not hazy apparitions painted in brushstrokes 
of dreamy violence but tangible articles of flesh and blood. There is a 
sinister, greedy justice to be had as Travis, a man who has spent a 
lifetime preying on women, is hunted by a far greater power and left to 
feel the sickening thump of victimisation. 
“I hate you, he thought, as she slept. You are not the thing I want, you 
are not the things I lost.” 
Davidson has conjured up an enigmatic stranger, original and tantalising 
Travis’ love is a horrible twisted thing, a beast of wicked machinations 
which moves as stealthily as a wolf, ready at any moment to strike at 
your throat. In Rue he more than meets his match, in her he finds an 
age-old predator, driven by blood and the will to survive. Forced into a 
painful reality of Rue’s making, Travis is a man hunted by authorities and 
haunted by his past.  
Vivid, wince inducing prose illuminates everyday terror and horror which 
is insidiously bound with unbearable sadness and the grinding tedium of 
daily living in a world which has forgotten you. Davidson’s powerful 
evocation of the harsh landscape, alongside his use of sparse dialogue 
creates a wistful reverie punctured by garish splashes of gore and dread.  
In the cultural wasteland of tragic vampire tales, so far removed from 
those nightmarish visions of yore, Davidson has conjured up an enigmatic 
stranger, original and tantalising, sure to tempt even the purest of heart 
into its ghoulish embrace.  
In the Valley of the Sun is a grisly love note to the vampire genre and a 
cinematic masterpiece with moments of heart stopping horror and aching 
tenderness. Violence, bloodshed and macabre characters will keep even 
those hardened to the nightmares lurking in the dark awake deep into the 
night.  
In the Valley of the Sun written by Andy Davidson, published by 
Contraband is available​ now​.  
  
  
 
Explore

Toggle screen reader support

Enjoyed this article?

Help us to fund independent journalism instead of buying:

Also in Disclaimer

We Are Pausing Publication While We Figure a Few Things Out

x

The Week on Planet Trump: Tweeter-in-Chief Threatens Iran with War and America with Government Shutdown

President Donald Trump late Sunday threatened Iran in a tweet, warning Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.” Just another week in Washington. Duisclaimer rounds up Trump's week.

Tweeting Checking: Is Jeremy Corbyn Labour’s first Black Leader?

Claims that Jeremy Corbyn was the first black leader of the Labour party were pretty daft. They were not alone. Harris Coverlet looks at some of dumb Twitter.

Dark Star, A Triumph for Those Who Like Detectives Haunted and Noir Coal Black

Oliver Langmead's Dark Star is published by Unsung stories, a fiction imprint of London-based independent press Red Squirrel Publishing, Unsung Stories are publishers of literary and ambitious speculative fiction that defies expectation and seek to publish unforgettable stories, from the varied worlds of genre fiction – science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and all the areas in-between.

Tweet Checking: The Grotesque Left That Thinks Albert Speer Had More Integrity than Tony Blair

Harry Leslie Smith thinks that Albert Speer had more integrity than Tony Blair. You donot have to be a Blairite or supporter of the Iraq War to see this as insane: the left promoting a Nazi. Diusclaimer looks at some of the worst of Twitter.