In the Valley: Stories and a Novella Based on Serena

Doubleday. Aug. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9780385544290. $26.95.
This collection of nine short stories and a novella features the return of the ruthless Serena Pemberton, a character introduced in Rash’s Serena, published in 2008 and a PEN/Faulkner finalist. Rash’s readers will recognize the themes here—family honor and pride, generational change, wounds of the past, hard living, and cruelty—but while the stories are familiar, they are also uniquely new and fresh. This is undoubtedly the work of a short story author of remarkable skill who cares for the South, in all its complexities. The title novella is so gripping and at times horrifying that it explains why Rash chose to return to Serena Pemberton. She is an unforgettable character.
VERDICT At turns dark, craggy, and heart-wrenching, Rash’s writing is never easy, but it is also lovely, moving, and rich in history and culture, just like the Appalachian region it so beautifully captures. Highly recommended for both those just discovering Rash and for returning readers. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/20.]
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