Seventeen-year-old Joshua Gaines is the orphaned foster son of a failed doctor on the run from his father's debt. In 1849, he travels to Independence, Missouri and falls in with the mysterious, four-fingered Renard, and his companion, formerly-enslaved Free Ray. Joshua offers his medical expertise to their party, and together they embark on the fifteen-hundred mile overland journey to Gold Rush California.
Following the hardship, disease, and death on the trail, the company abandons panning the river in favor of robbery and murder. Engulfed by violence, the young doctor-turned-marauder must reckon with his own morality, his growing desire for the men around him, and the brutality that has haunted him all his life.
For fans of The Revenantand Ian McGuire's The North Water, Child in the Valley is a gorgeously rendered tale cut from the turmoil of a fledgling America. Gordy Sauer's careful eye and penetrating literary lens offers a modern, incisive look into the complexities of masculinity, isolation, and the impenetrable nature of greed.