Mystery Lights (Paperback)

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“Full of menace and delight.”

—Kelly Link, author of The Book of Love

Set against the stark background of the Southwestern desert, Lena Valencia’s Mystery Lights glows with the promise—and fear—of the world we know and the worlds we don’t, following women and girls as they navigate dangers both supernatural and existential.

An influencer attempts to derail a viral TV marketing campaign with her violent cult following. A marriage between two ghost hunters is threatened when one of them loses her ability to see spirits. The lives of a famous painter in the twilight of her career and a teenage UFO enthusiast converge when a mysterious glowing orb appears in their small desert town. And a slasher-flick screenwriter looking for inspiration escapes a pack of wild dogs only to find herself locked in an SUV with a strange man beside her. Set primarily in deserts throughout the American Southwest, Lena Valencia’s Mystery Lights is a debut collection of stories about women and girls at the crossroads of mundane daily life and existential dread.

From the all-too-real horror of a sexual predator on a college campus to a lost sister transformed by cave-dwelling creatures, Mystery Lights grapples with terrors both familiar and fantastic, introducing an electrifying new voice in contemporary fiction while bringing to light the many faces of the forces that haunt us.

About the Author

Lena Valencia’s fiction has appeared in Ninth Letter, Epiphany, Joyland, the anthology Tiny Nightmares, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2019 Elizabeth George Foundation grant and holds an MFA in fiction from The New School. Originally from Los Angeles, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is the managing editor and director of educational programming at One Story and the co-host of the reading series Ditmas Lit.

Praise For…

These are stories full of menace and delight, drawing from that deep well of human complexity, perversity, sincerity, and hope. Mystery Lights is gorgeous.

— Kelly Link, author of The Book of Love

Lena Valencia writes some of the best stories I've read in years, as sharp and finely honed as knives. Here are women who turn out to be powerful enough to meet the threats of their worlds in kind: their lives may cut them, yes, but they can cut back, and astonishing truths are laid bare in the process. Both bold and sly, in turns righteously angry and sinister, Mystery Lights offers a brilliant new vision of what it means to be a woman in this world.

— Clare Beams, author of The Garden

I've loved Lena Valencia's brilliant, beguiling stories for years and read her debut collection in a single breathless evening. These are stories with teeth, both chilling and bold, about the strength and vulnerability of women and girls. Full of surprising turns, Mystery Lights reminded me of the incredible power of short fiction to speak the truth.

— Julie Buntin, author of Marlena

B movie aesthetics meet the cinematic splendor of the desert in these ten clever, neatly crafted, wryly stylized short stories. Against the backdrop of their desolate and often haunted landscapes, Lena Valencia's characters vividly come to life.

— Rachel Lyon, author of Fruit of the Dead

Product Details
ISBN: 9781959030621
ISBN-10: 1959030620
Publisher: Tin House Books
Publication Date: August 6th, 2024
Pages: 256
Language: English