Ovid’s Valley is a contemporary fantasy set within a small, mountain town of that name. Ovid is a place where people spend their lives enjoying the rugged mountains and untamed forests, reveling in the idyllic nature of their self-imposed isolation, and hoping that the drawback of the modern world pass them by. And for Aaron Mitchell it has been a nice place to grow up in – until now that is.
Because the modern world has invaded this valley of solace, interrupted the normal hum of small town living, as a super secret government facility nears to completion on the outskirts of town. A facility that promised jobs and growth to the tiny hamlet without ever informing the citizenry of exactly what the complex itself would house. And now not only has the noise and commotion of construction crews and heavy equipment interrupted everyone’s daily life, but the occupants of the government building have begun to appear in town. Strange people who begin to approach Aaron himself, disturbing a feeling hidden deep within him.
For Aaron has always been different from everyone else. Teased as a child for his strange body odor and his inability to use any electrical device without breaking it, he has spent his life focused on nature, becoming a trail guide for hikers and horseback riders at the local lodge. The life suites him. Hell, he even met his soon to be fiancé at the lodge. But the appearance of these government types has triggered something within Aaron, caused his nearly forgotten quirks to act up again and his dearly held desire to just be normal start to slip away. A fact which terrifies not only him but his loved ones as well.
Yet, even as he desperately tries to hold on to normalcy, a single question plagues Aaron’s psyche: does he really want to be normal? Is his comfortable, normal existence really that fulfilling, or would he really prefer to release the quirks within and embrace whatever he was born to be?
This novel was an interesting one, filled with descriptions of the inner turmoil of Aaron and those around him and allowing a reader to truly empathize with each character – both good and bad ones. That along with its buildup to the revelation of the super secret government facility will keep a reader turning pages, and for that reason, the story is well worth a try.
Like all books, however, this one had things which did not “click” with me.
First, the wonderful immersion into the psyche and motives of the main characters was enjoyable the first go around, but the story devolved into too many pages of rehashing Aaron and others issues too many times to keep my attention.
Second, there were several characters who just irritated me whenever I was forced to read about them; one being Aaron’s girlfriend. Perhaps the author intended her to be a self-absorbed twenty-something with no identifiable redeeming quality, and if Mr. Clayton did intend this characterization then I applaud him, because every time she appeared on the pages I heard nails scratching across a blackboard. However, if Mr. Clayton wished me to – in any small measure – empathize with her, he failed horribly, because all her motives seemed terribly shallow to me.
In summation, this is the first book in a series that is worth a try if you enjoy contemporary fantasy. It has a well thought out plot with characters that Mr. Clayton delves into. While it has issues with pacing and a bit too much description at times, it will keep your attention as you follow Aaron along his path from ordinary to extraordinary.