book cover of This Wretched Valley
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This Wretched Valley

(2024)
A novel by

 
 
A hallucinatory nightmare of a novel that blends adventure, horror and historical fiction, and isn’t shy about violence or strangeness.New York Times

“If you love wilderness horror, This Wretched Valley is a must-read.”—Alma Katsu, author of The Hunger and The Fervor

Take only pictures. Leave only bones.

This trip is going to be Dylan’s big break. Her geologist friend Clay has discovered an untouched cliff face in the Kentucky wilderness, and she is going to be the first person to climb it. Together with Clay, his research assistant Sylvia, and Dylan’s boyfriend Luke, Dylan is going to document her achievement on Instagram and finally cement her place as the next rising star in rock climbing.

Seven months later, three bodies are discovered in the trees just off the highway. All are in various states of decay: one a stark, white skeleton; the second emptied of its organs; and the third a mutilated corpse with the tongue, eyes, ears, and fingers removed.

But Dylan is still missing—and no trace of her, dead or alive, has been discovered.

Were the climbers murdered? Did they succumb to cannibalism? Or are their impossible bodies the work of an even more sinister force? 

This dread-inducing debut builds to a bloodcurdling climax, and will leave you shocked by the final twist.


Genre: Horror

Praise for this book

"A dread-inducing Kentucky spin on the Dyatlov Pass incident, This Wretched Valley drops its readers right into uncharted territory without a compass and demands we navigate our way out alive and in one piece. Not since Scott Smith's The Ruins has a novel imbued a region with such desperate horror." - Clay McLeod Chapman

"Twisty and brutal, Jenny Kiefer's debut unfolds like your favorite creepy new horror flick. Welcome to This Wretched Valley, where everything bleeds." - Christopher Golden

"This propulsive, hair-raising read will have you jumping at shadows and second-guessing your next trek into the woods. With nimble pacing, scream-worthy scares, and an ever-present sense of dread, a trip to This Wretched Valley is one you'll never forget. A standout debut." - Rachel Harrison

"Jenny Kiefer takes one of the most intriguing and horrific mysteries of the last century - the Dyatlov Pass incident - and pushes beyond our worst imaginings. An isolated valley and ominous small-town warnings set the stage for a skillful and bone-chilling tale of isolation and the limits of human endurance. Kiefer skillfully weaves historical horror into a modern-day setting, and the result is a deliciously adrenaline-laden nightmare. A fantastic debut that keeps all its promises." - Laurel Hightower

"This Wretched Valley is suspenseful, mysterious, and filled with racing adrenaline and paranoia. Jenny Kiefer calls us to question reality along with the novel's characters and haunts us with repeating pasts and rotting bones both refleshed and unfleshed." - Ai Jiang

"If you love wilderness horror, This Wretched Valley is a must-read. But be forewarned: after reading this chilling debut, you may never want to set foot in the great outdoors again." - Alma Katsu

"This Wretched Valley is a fast-paced free fall straight into a Kentucky nightmare. Kiefer's prose sings in this horrific tragedy of blood and dread and paranoia. The story will drag you kicking and screaming into the night and will not let you go. I lost sleep over it. Highly recommended." - Todd Keisling

"Set deep in the backwoods of eastern Kentucky, This Wretched Valley by Jenny Kiefer took me to a place I'd never want to go, yet found myself completely unable to leave. What started off as a Michael Crichton'like adventure soon gave way to something more reminiscent of Jennifer McMahon's The Winter People and Scott Smith's The Ruins. A ghost story on steroids, with wonderfully disturbing images laced throughout. I don't think I'll ever go hiking again!" - J H Markert

"[This Wretched Valley is] horror that challenges our perceptions and understanding of the physical world, and that distorts our reality, [with] all of the elements I look for in horror - folklore, an environment that is a character itself, and characters trying to understand and survive through a horrific situation." - Cynthia Pelayo

"This Wretched Valley made me nervous to keep going; not many books can do that. There's a heaviness to the dread, and Kiefer layers looming atmosphere onto gripping desperation with a masterful touch. Forget the outdoors - stay inside with this enthralling book instead." - Hailey Piper

"Reading This Wretched Valley, you will find malice dangling from every branch while an old hunger gathers beneath your feet. Eerie, vicious, and unforgettably Kiefer." - Andrew F Sullivan

"This Wretched Valley is a reality-warping, body-horror, don't-go-into-the-woods nightmare which grips from its very first sentence. Kiefer deftly weaves something Dyatlov Pass - shaped from her characters' hubris and pain, leading them to a ghastly and inevitable end sure to delight fans of The Troop or Blair Witch. A truly unforgettable debut." - Ally Wilkes


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