For the people of Corvin Valley, a small and secluded region within the Appalachian Mountains, life is slow and simple. Graham Stevens and Quinn Arnolds are teenagers falling in love for the first time, Father Wade Northrup and Sheriff Michael Leighton are both men trying to move on from sordid pasts and live righteous lives, and Adeline Lewis is a lonely woman in search of love and a place within her world. But when a tragic accident occurs in the valley, these five people are forever changed as their paths become inextricably linked and they are each confronted with their deepest secrets and fears while being forced to reconcile their actions.
Praise for The Valley
“Brandon Daily’s The Valley is a compelling and well-written story of the search for grace in a fallen world.”
–Ron Rash, New York Times Bestselling author of Serena and The Cove
“Reading Brandon Daily’s The Valley is like spending a hot summer night in some uneasy Faulknerian backwater damp with melancholy and sad longings, but also smoldering with suspense and dark secrets. This well-crafted novel is sure to be one of the year’s best.”
–Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time and The Heavenly Table
“In The Valley, Brandon Daily once again uses his prodigious gift to explore what makes us human and how we experience and share that humanity through our ties to one another—and to the land. With careful, achingly poetic language, Daily weaves a tale of stark sorrow and beauty. A story that, at its core, is about love. And how the loss of that love must ultimately inspire us to hold tight to that which cannot be regained.
The Valley is a microcosm that contains the world entire, in both its pervasive misery and its possibility for beauty, so, as Daily warns us, it must be read with care, ‘for you might see yourself in its burned reflection.’”
–Grant Jerkins, author of A Very Simple Crime and At the End of the Road
“Brandon Daily’s The Valley is a work of unsettling beauty. Set in the hills of the Southern Appalachia, it is not so much a novel of isolation and pain–though both certainly are present–as it is a novel of hope. It’s made an indelible mark on me. I know the story and people of Corvin Valley will remain in my heart and mind for a long time.”
–Mark Powell, author of The Dark Corner and The Sheltering
“Brandon Daily intrigues the reader with the music of his language and a subtlety of plot that unfolds like memory. He moves easily into past generations, revealing parallel desires and fears, and a strong connection to place—this valley. The characters look for love, often failing, but with the determination and courage to look again. A powerful novel! Don’t miss reading this story about love and forgiveness.”
–Elizabeth Cox, author of The Slow Moon and Night Talk
“If The Valley were a painting, it would be an impressionistic one, each brush stroke capturing a defining moment in the lives of those on its canvas. Daily’s artistry with the English language is noteworthy as he distills the haunting images that form regret and an almost palpable yearning for a time gone by.”
–Therese Walsh, author of The Moon Sisters
“The characters and setting of The Valley are lush and layered, giving it the feeling that Brandon Daily is writing with a paintbrush rather than a pen, rendering a rich tapestry of life, love, tragedy, and hope.”
–Rob Hart, author of New Yorked and City of Rose
“The Valley is intricately structured with a vivid setting and well developed characters that remained with this reader far after she closed the book. Brandon Daily’s shining new voice will mark the fiction world.”
–Ann Hite, author Ghost On Black Mountain, Where The Souls Go, and Sleeping Above Chaos.
“Brandon Daily’s The Valley opens as Quinn, a young wife and mother, remembers the year she was fifteen, taking piano lessons and falling in love. But in the valley, love extracts a heavy cost from people. For some it’s revisiting love revealed in past acts of madness and murder. For others, it’s grasping at love that has either gone wrong, or becomes as ephemeral as the Appalachian mists. There is redemption here, too, but it’s hard fought and hard won, just like everything else in the valley.
Mr. Daily’s love for the land shines through in his writing, which is lyrical and poetic. But even more important, his valley becomes a metaphor for the human heart—full of secrets but throbbing with life; easily wounded but stubborn in its hunger and resilience.”
–Sallie Bissell, author of In the Forest of Harm and A Judgment of Whispers
“In Brandon Daily’s second novel The Valley he masterfully weaves an intricate landscape of people, places, history, and heartbreak. Intricate stories about the inhabitants of the valley and its rich and storied past fill in the blanks as the life and times of Quinn Arnolds and Graham Stevens come alive. Full of brutal reality and elegant prose The Valley whisks the reader down a dark portal rich in tone and lore until we find ourselves in the vivid darkness of our own bleak future state.”
–Jéanpaul Ferro, author of Essendo Morti – Being Dead and Jazz
Adeline Lewis looked down at her hands. They had been soft and gentle once, clear and without marks of age and wear. But they had turned gaunt, thin as paper, and they constantly shook.
On the other side of the partition came the sound of rosary beads being counted by an invisible hand. Adeline worked her fingers as if she had those beads in her hands too, but the only thing slipping through her worn and cramped fingers was air and the dust that floated through it.
She thought about the dust. It was always there, a part of the place. And she had become comfortable with it. For Adeline Lewis, the dust was a reminder, like a photograph, old and worn: an image faded from time so that the only thing left on the paper was an outline of a ghost.
When she looked over to her left, where the wall separated her from the priest, she realized, as if for the first time, that he had been talking to her, though she had not heard his voice until now.
She knew his features blind—the small squint eyes, the sunken cheeks and thick brows over the metal rims of the glasses. The kind smile. The holes in the wall only showed darkness and the pale outline of his head: white flesh, graying hair, thin lips. He was a man that seemed to be shriveling away, as if that was in fact what he wanted: to some day vanish into the dusty air and be no more.
Adeline rubbed her hands together. They felt cold and smooth against each other, sounding of dry skin flaking to the earth and disappearing below her. “I’m afraid,” she whispered.
His response was quiet; the voice seemed far away, yet she knew that voice above all others now. “Of what?” he said.
“My life. The secrets there. I have so many secrets.”
There was a pause. Then: “You can tell them to me.”
She took a breath and released it. Wiped her wet eyes. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to say this, how to ask. But I need help. I need your help.”
Even to the day she died, the insects spoke to Adeline. Always reminding her.
One evening—several months after they buried the body in the woods behind the house—the fireflies beckoned her outside, lighting a path into the yard.
She had looked out the window from the kitchen and saw the garden lighted up in small fireworks, tiny explosions in the black of the night—it looked as if the area had been set ablaze like some ancient pagan city of whose ruined destruction only she could see. She smiled at the insects, though it was a sad smile. Those dots of light offered an invitation to her, yet it was an invitation of the dead, and she knew it then. His voice sounds in these small lights. I hear it in them. Come back. She knew that as soon as she walked outside, accepting the invitation in doing so, she would be taken to some distant place that she only remembered in dreams. But then—
Adeline takes a breath, deep and steady, as she opens the back door to the deep sea of glow. She can swim through that sea, if only she had the ability of walking on air. On these nights, when the wind blows and shudders the treetops, she imagines that if she were to hold a sheet tight enough she would sail away and the sparks of light would guide her.
She walks past the small garden that sits just outside the back door and she moves slowly into the yard beyond. Her bare feet sink into the cold soil of the night, and she pivots her feet smoothly into the sucking earth. She twirls about like a ballerina of nature, a god of some world, this or another. Smiles at the sound and feeling this creates. Behind her are footprints in the muddy grass; they trail like prints in snow—something to be read and understood, a marker of her existence.
The porch light shines from behind her and she walks into the alien figure that her shadow cuts through the yard. It is a figure that extends on into the darker places of her world. When she sees this, Adeline looks back at the house, a silhouette now. A small box of a place, but it is all she has ever known, and the thought of being without it scares her. The memories of her childhood still float about the yard and the wood of the house and she is able to see these memories play out in her mind every so often until they disappear again—to float about the air until the next time.
As she walks deeper into the yard, towards the woods, she stops and looks at the disappearing house, the hidden garden there. She turns back to the woods and stops her movement, daring not to continue on any further toward this place. Not in the dark. Her skin becomes cold and she shudders in the humid night and her breath draws more slowly now. So many dark secrets are held captive within those woods; she believes that if she were to set foot in there, on this night, the ghosts and memories might haunt her even more than they already do and she will become lost forever.