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Review of The Other Valley by Scott Alexander Howard

Updated: Apr 8

The idea of this book is so utterly fantastic I was sold in the first ten pages!

Odile Ozanne lives in the valley of the Chemin des Pins. A young girl, she is aiming to forge a career as part of the Conseil where she will be able to decide who is escorted across the town’s border to the next valley. But here’s the thing. The valley to the west is the same town, the same valley, 20 years in the past. And to the east it’s the same town, the same valley, 20 years in the future! Border crossings are only allowed for mourning tours where individuals are able to see their dead. All is going well for Odile’s Conseil application until tragedy befalls her friend and first chance at love, Edme. The rest of the book is a dilemma between preserving the town’s order and taking a risk to find her one true chance at happiness.

I think the idea for this book is sublime, but not just this, it is so well executed. The prose is beautifully crafted, picking up on minute situational details that make you feel as if you’re in the valley’s town square with the characters. The depiction of Odile and Edme’s young romance is so tender and precious, it really caught me off guard with its astute observations of young love and teenage romance. I had no idea how the story was going to end until the book’s very last page, it kept me on tenterhooks the whole way through and honestly, if there was to be a sequel, I’d be utterly delighted because I loved it!

Reviewed by Helen.

The Other Valley will be published on 18/04/24 by Atlantic Books.

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