Winner of the Texas Institute of Letters’ Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction

New York Times Book Review Paperback Row Selection

Solitario Cisneros thought his life was over long ago. He lost his wife, his family, even his country in the late 1870s when the Rio Grande shifted course, stranding the Mexican town of Olvido on the Texas side of the border. He’d made his brooding peace with retiring his gun and badge, hiding out on his ranch, and communing with horses and ghosts. But when a gruesome string of murders and kidnappings ravages the town, pushing its volatile mix of Anglo, Mexican, and Apache settlers to the brink of self-destruction, he feels reluctantly compelled to confront both life, and the much more likely possibility of death, yet again.

As Solitario struggles to overcome not only the evil forces that threaten the town but also his own inner demons, he finds an unlikely source of inspiration and support in Onawa, a gifted and enchanting Apache-Mexican seer who champions his cause, daring him to open his heart and question his destiny.

As we follow Solitario and Onawa into the desert, we join them in facing haunting questions about the human condition that are as relevant today as they were back then: Can we rewrite our own history and shape our own future? What does it mean to belong to a place, or for a place to belong to a people? And, as lonely and defeated as we might feel, are we ever truly alone?

Through luminous prose and soul-searching reflections, Rudy Ruiz transports readers to a distant time and a remote place where the immortal forces of good and evil dance amidst the shadows of magic and mountains.

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“Ruiz writes with the ache of the lonely and the audacity of the hopeful. His prose is unforgiving and his characters unrelenting. Valley of Shadows contains a sharpness of vision that is exceedingly rare; and through this tale of redemption and rediscovery, Ruiz certifies his voice―as well as his philosophy of togetherness―as a ferociously necessary addition to American letters.” — James Wade, awarding-winning author of All Things Left Wild

“Ruiz’s engaging tale, peppered generously with Spanish words and smoldering with racial tension and classism, is immersive and atmospheric and features an interesting cast of characters with rich backstories. Ruiz deftly combines elements of romance, historical mystery, horror, and magical realism to deliver a richly satisfying adventure.” — Booklist (starred review)

“Ruiz offers an engrossing blend of historical fiction, ghost story, and mystery…He employs elements of magic realism to haunting effect, and the depictions of human cruelty and injustice are unflinching…This has its rewards.” — Publishers Weekly

“Filled with ghosts both literal and metaphorical in a desolate place overflowing with unforgettable characters whose stories are woven by a masterful storyteller, Ruiz’s Valley of Shadows is searing, incisive, and, at times, utterly terrifying.” — Jennifer Givhan, author of River Woman, River Demon

“Rudy Ruiz’s imagination is second to none! I knew I’d be up all night as soon as I picked up his latest book. Valley of Shadows does not disappoint. The characters jump off the page, vying to tell their stories―the curse, the love, the loss, the friendships, the historical context, the mystery―compelling us to see through the veil to know their end. Alas, it is over way too soon!” — Nora de Hoyos Comstock, PhD, founder of Las Comadres Para Las Americas

“Ruiz’s latest is a chilling meditation on life and death in the 1870s borderlands between the US and Mexico, a neo-western that brings a fatalistic noir sensibility to a story with deep spiritual and literary roots.” CrimeReads 

Valley of Shadows is a supernatural genre fusion that sheds light on real issues.” Southern Review of Books

“Rudy Ruiz’ Valley of Shadows is a masterful weaving of the best of American Literature: a realistic historical novel, a riveting, edge-of-your-seat Western thriller with a dose of horror and magic. Most of all, Rudy Ruiz’ simple, brilliant and penetrating writing transforms Solitario Cisneros’ struggle for meaning and redemption into an existential inquiry about the quest we must all undertake to save our world.” Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Wes Ferguson, and Francisco Stork, Texas Institute of Letters judges for the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Book of Fiction

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