The Valley (Steve Hawke, Fremantle Press)
Steve Hawke’s first foray into adult fiction, The Valley, is a tender and sensitive novel set in the Kimberley, a place the author lived and worked for many years and knows well. It spans nearly a full century, beginning with a murder in 1916. Almost 100 years later, after a run-in with a local bikie gang, young Broome schoolboy Dancer Jirroo and his father journey up the Gibb River Road. They are heading to the country where Dancer’s mother, Milly, grew up. Milly disappeared years ago and he knows little about her, but, in the days that follow, many of the secrets that have remained hidden for generations come to light as Dancer reconnects with his family and country. The mystery of what happened to Milly and the existence of a hidden valley create tension and propel the story forward. Hawke’s deep knowledge of the area and its history provides a sense of authenticity to the story, and his sympathetic characters endear themselves to the reader. Like Kim Scott’s Taboo, this is a story of survival, laced with great sadness, but also a gentle humour. It is a good story, well told.
Barb Sampson is a Perth-based reviewer and bookseller