In Journey to the West Valley Wall, author Mark L Lloyd has cleverly combined two stories into one novel. Jack Van Horne is a successful Science Fiction writer. Both his first two books based around the character of Sage Sauer’s space adventures have been best-sellers with both novels being made into blockbuster feature films. Despite his success, Jack is wracked with self-doubt and the crippling effects of agoraphobia and fandom pressures. He rarely leaves his apartment these days and is unable to write the much anticipated final book in the Sage Sauer series. Crippled by fear and uncertainty, Jack finally experiences an epiphany when he is forced, by circumstances, to run for his life, along with his twelve-year-old niece as they try to escape a raging forest fire. We follow the trials and angst of Jack, in his crawl back to something resembling normality, as well as those of his space hero Sage Sauer, as the third book begins to come together.
I thought the premise of two stories into one, in Journey to the West Wall, was a clever technique employed by author Mark L Lloyd and he made it work extremely well. The character of Jack Van Horne was eerily identifiable by fellow authors who have all gone through those mental demons, although not as badly as Jack, usually. He was a character that evoked extreme emotion in the reader, ranging from deep sympathy and sorrow, right through to intense anger at the man’s stupidity and inability to cope, at times and yet always tempered by a feeling of sadness that despite his clear brilliance he must suffer so much. I particularly enjoyed the interactions between Jack and his niece. The parallel story of Sage Sauer was equally compelling, especially for Science Fiction fans. The journal of his adventures left the reader wanting to know more about the character and the processes by which humans had survived or modified in the world of Sauer. It left questions in the readers’ minds and that’s a great thing to achieve. This is an excellent story and one I can highly recommend.