Until a couple of years ago I thought of Stephen Gallagher, author Guest of Honor at WFC 2020, primarily as a screenwriter. He’s been instrumental in many creepy-and-fascinating shows, some of which you can read about on his Guest of Honor bio page posted on the WFC 2020 website and in even more detail at www.stephengallagher.com. Being a confirmed Whovian, I was drawn to Steve’s work when I discovered he wrote two classic Doctor Who episodes.
Then I read Valley of Lights.
In this supernatural thriller, Phoenix Police Sergeant Alex Volchak is on the hunt for a vicious killer. But this perp is unlike any he – or anyone else on the force – has ever encountered. After a gruesome murder, Alex follows up on a lead and has the suspect in hand … then the light fades from the man’s eyes and Alex comes to a horrifying realization: the real killer has just vacated the body he’s been using. But where did the creature go?
The back cover of Valley of Lights tells the reader, “…Volchak discovers the true nature of a predator that has survived among us unnoticed for generations… It’s older than the desert, a thing without a name, but as vicious, jealous and self-preserving a creature as ever walked the earth. And it hides in plain sight.”
How’s that for a hook?
I love police procedurals and fantasy, including the occasional dark fantasy story, so when I saw a Tweet from someone to Steve saying, “This is one of your best!” I decided to give it a try. I was captivated from the first scene and drawn into a world that was at times so real I expected to look up from the pages and find myself in the Arizona desert.
Valley of Lights is so much more intricate and captivating than I anticipated. Part of that is the premise, but the biggest contributing factor is the strength of the writing. I read this book aloud to my husband during a cross-country driving trip, and there were times when I stopped and said, “Oh my gosh. Listen to that paragraph again!” Both of us were mesmerized by the prose, the descriptions, the gripping action scenes, and the characters that were so real we felt we knew them. We finished the trip before we finished the book, so unpacking had to wait as we sat on the living room sofa, reading the last few chapters.
Much of my “To Read Soon” list is occupied by Stephen Gallagher books. I finished The Kingdom of Bones and Chimera – both excellent. Next up is The Bedlam Detective. I can’t wait!
Click on the Valley of Lights book cover to buy a copy from Amazon. It’s available on Kindle, naturally, but I’d recommend getting a physical copy. That way you can have Steve autograph it when you see him in Salt Lake City. I hope you don’t have to stand in line behind me, because I’m going to have a bunch for him to sign.
Ginny Smith is a Co-Chair of WFC 2020. When she’s not running conventions, she is an award-winning author with thirty-seven books in a variety of genres written as Virginia Smith. In 2019, she returned to her literary first love with the release of Sister of the Brotherhood, an epic fantasy novel written under the pen name Ginny Patrick. Find out more at www.VirginiaSmith.org.