The Happy Valley is a genre-bending work of literary fiction. It is a coming-of-age story, an expansive, surrealist take on American history, a philosophical mystery, a subversive look at our culture, and a lot of fun. It is a nostalgic trip to the early 90s and a challenging look into a possible future to come.
The illustrations, by the author, "recall the excitability of middle-grade stories" (Kirkus). These free, etching-style drawings are meant to evoke the chapter books and illustrated classics you might pick up at a library sale. The illustrations are available in all editions.
Available in a handsome paperback, the book can also be found on Kindle (later it will be available on Epub), and in two forthcoming Audiobooks with different narrators and narrative styles. You can also get a feel for the novel with this Spotify playlist.
From the unnamed narrator and his lost love June, to the eccentric lawyer Jeremiah Jeremiah and his protégée Tiffany Ho; from galactic adventurer Zane Arbuster to the school janitor and pipe-organ prodigy Clyde Duane, the novel is filled with “a host of captivating characters” (SPR) guaranteed to draw you in.
How do long-lost letters from the past explain our future?
How do you measure worth in a world without money?
How do you live an imperfect life in a perfect world?
Here are just a few things you will encounter in The Happy Valley.
The novel opens with a disappearance. Hidden rooms are discovered. A long dormant secret society comes to life.
At its heart, the book is a coming-of-age story—an awkward teen’s first love and bumbling into adulthood—also the coming of age of a whole society.
The novel has characters and events set in American history, when New York State was a frontier, and includes tons of historical references.
Science fiction elements abound as the novel works its way from a the early 90s into a futuristic America grappling with a new way of life.
The novel is suffused with philosophical problems and enounters with and meditations about sciecne and technology.
The paperback and Kindle versions of the novel include a detailed reading group guide with questions designed to help you discuss and understand the book.
“A thought-provoking exploration of the past, the future, and the worlds we construct for ourselves ... The Happy Valley offers fascinating insights about the relationship between the past and the future, anchoring its philosophical musings in a personal story of rediscovery. To blend the abstract with the concrete, to mash-up genres with intention-neither is any small feat, and this novel pulls off the sleight of hand necessary to bring its distinct vision to life.”
“[A] trippy, ambitious debut novel ... Reading The Happy Valley is not unlike the experience of opening a D&D game box ... The novel itself cuts the aching solemnity of its melancholic atmosphere with childlike naiveté, wry self-awareness, and a refusal to take itself too seriously ... Dense with historical and cultural references and perceptive insights into human nature on both an individual and societal scale ... a poetic, delightfully inventive work of modern mythmaking.”
“Heavily immersive ... A wistful work that reflects both the uncertain child and the nostalgic adult ... A knotty, philosophical mystery dense with lingering regrets.”
“The Happy Valley is uniquely inventive, and must be lauded for its scope. With an ambitious number of genres at play, a host of captivating characters, and an innovative plot [it is] a well-written, imaginative work that will quickly draw readers into the mysterious narrator’s search for truth.”
“The story doesn't just open. It grabs ... From cards containing great power to the ironies of disparate forces that find themselves unexpectedly on the same side, Harnett's juxtaposition of social discord and angst are nicely done ... The profound realizations experienced by the characters in this story will attract and captivate mature teens and audiences interested in the concurrence of past, present, and future ... Powerful, gripping, and tempered by mystery and intrigue, The Happy Valley resides in a category of its own—that of a unique and compelling work of art that blends social and historical inspection with the trajectories of everyday young lives.”