For fans of Emily St. John Mandel, David Mitchell, and Kazuo Ishiguro, an exquisite literary speculative novel set in an unnamed valley, where bereaved residents can petition to cross a forbidden border to see their lost loved ones again.
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.
Scott Alexander Howard lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, where his work focused on the relationship between memory, emotion, and literature. The Other Valley is his first novel. Connect with him at ScottAlexanderHoward.com.
“Brilliantly conceived. The voice is accomplished and nuanced, and the story is a page-turner with a blistering climax. An astonishing debut.” — JAN ZWICKY, Governor General's Literary Award–winning author of Songs for Relinquishing the Earth
“A bittersweet tale of first love and coming of age, as well as a unique take on the intersection of fate and free will.” — NIKKI ERLICK, New York Times bestselling author of The Measure
“A stellar debut, full of heartbreak and hope wrapped up in gorgeous prose. Scott Alexander Howard is one to watch.” — CHRISTINA DALCHER, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Sentence and Vox
“Thoughtful, touching, and beautiful . . . an accomplished and exquisitely crafted novel. Scott Alexander Howard takes readers into a unique world they are sure to remember and introduces them to Odile, a fascinating character with an unenviable dilemma.” — ADAM HAMDY, Sunday Times bestselling author of White Fire and The Other Side of Night
“Part Ishiguro, part Amis, and somehow all its own, The Other Valley marks the debut of a phenomenally talented writer. Pay attention.” — SARAH LANGAN, award-winning author of Good Neighbors
“This is a quiet gem of a novel. Scott Alexander Howard takes a unique premise and executes it beautifully—never relying too heavily on his fantastical plot device to convey young Odile’s heartfelt story.” — The Speculative Shelf
“As riveting as it is philosophically beautiful. . . . While the premise is uniquely speculative, the sensation of being stranded between the ambitious optimism of youth and the clouded uncertainty of the future is gorgeously familiar. Powerful and atmospheric, Howard’s novel is one I hope to reread at different stages of my life.” — SARA FLANNERY MURPHY, author of The Wonder State and Girl One