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The Other Valley

Scott Alexander Howard (CA)

Regular price $18.70

PAUL'S PICK

In the vein of Kazuo Ishiguro and David Mitchell, Howard uses the tiniest drop of science fiction to explore the human condition. A small town nestled in a deep valley is bordered by barbed wire and armed guards: to the east of the valley lies the identical town twenty years in the future; to the west is the town again, but twenty years in the past. Odile is a young woman about to start her career in the Conseil; the prestigious organization who permits or forbids journeys out of the valley. One day at school Odile sees visitors from the future she isn't supposed to see. Her future, the fate of a new friend, and how much any of us are able to determine our own destinies lie at the core of this thrilling, tender novel. -PD

Sixteen-year-old Odile Ozanne is an awkward, quiet girl, vying for a coveted seat on the Conseil. If she earns the position, she’ll decree who among the town’s residents may be escorted deep into the woods, who may cross the border’s barbed wire fence, who may make the arduous trek to descend into the next valley over. It’s the same valley, the same town. But to the east, the town is twenty years ahead in time. To the west, it’s twenty years behind. The only border crossings permitted by the Conseil are mourning tours: furtive viewings of the dead in towns where the dead are still alive.

When Odile recognizes two mourners she wasn’t supposed to see, she realizes that the parents of her classmate Edme have crossed the border from the future to see their son while he’s still alive in Odile’s present. Edme—who is brilliant and funny, and the only person to truly know Odile—is about to die. Sworn to secrecy by the Conseil so as not to disrupt the course of nature, Odile finds herself drawing closer to her doomed friend—imperiling her own future.

Masterful and original, The Other Valley is an affecting modern fable about the inevitable march of time and whether or not fate can be defied. Above all, it is about love and letting go, and the bonds, in both life and death, that never break.

Paperback | 304 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"