The Valley and the Flood

Razorbill. Oct. 2020. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593114353.
Gr 9 Up–Rose, grieving the death of her best friend Gaby, breaks down in the Nevada desert, with only the thinnest hope of rescue: A radio tower that somehow is repeating the final message Gaby left on Rose’s phone. Striking out for the unknown village of Lotus Valley, Rose, who is white, discovers she is the subject of a prophecy that spells doom for the entire town. Along with the regular townsfolk, “neighbors” live in dark places and abandoned buildings; Rose learns that these beings are formed when an event occurs in someone’s life that changes it forever. As the population of “neighbors” grows, so does their menace. And Rose finds it nearly impossible to shoulder the burden of saving the town along with her own sanity. Debut author Mahoney deals with themes of grief and loss in a Twilight Zone setting where citizens accept the presence of spirit “neighbors” as part of their town’s commitment to hospitality. She carefully ratchets up the tension: Will Rose be able to accept her own pain and shame and help Lotus Valley, or will the citizens literally drown beneath the weight of their shared experiences? In addition to Rose, interesting characters abound, including a collection of “prophets” who all hold a different piece of the puzzle...if they can be persuaded to share it, rather than holding on to their own self-interest. The story requires some intuitive thinking, and Rose often seems like an unreliable narrator, so it’s better for older readers.
VERDICT Part mystery, part thriller, part horror-lite, this genre-bending story will be popular with many teens.

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