Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: Auraria: A Novel by Tim Westover

Auraria: A Novel
"Fact and fancy are intertwined cleverly and seamlessly in a top-notch, thoroughly American fantasy."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review

Water spirits, moon maidens, haunted pianos, headless revenants, and an invincible terrapin that lives under the mountains. None of these distract James Holtzclaw from his employer’s mission: to turn the fading gold-rush town of Auraria, GA, into a first-class resort and drown its fortunes below a man-made lake. But when Auraria’s peculiar people and problematic ghosts collide with his own rival ambitions, Holtzclaw must decide what he will save and what will be washed away.

Taking its inspiration from a real Georgia ghost town, Auraria is steeped in the folklore of the Southern Appalachians, where the tensions of natural, supernatural and artificial are still alive.

"Auraria is like nothing I’ve ever read before except maybe Through the Looking-Glass. Envision Lewis Carroll on a romp through the mountains of Georgia, discovering a land of shimmery mystery and spirits, humble monsters, quirky characters, singing trees and vengeful fish. This whole world has sprung from Tim Westover's brain yet remains firmly and lovingly the real thing, the actual Georgia landscape. The best part is that Tim Westover can really write. I’d give an Aurarian pot of gold to do what he’s done with language in the service of imagination."
--Josephine Humphreys, Hemingway/PEN Award Winner, author of Dreams of Sleep and Rich in Love.

Paperback, 398 pages
Expected publication: July 10th 2012 by Q&W Publishers
ISBN: 0984974806 (ISBN13: 9780984974801)
(Goodreads)

Review:

I was really excited to read this.  When Tim contacted me, I was instantly drawn to the story of Auraria, GA. 

Holtzclaw, though a little on the na├»ve side of things, does his best to do exactly what Shadburn asks of him: buy up all the land in Auraria.  Holtzclaw did not anticipate the awkwardness of the people and his interactions with them—the citizens of Auraria are a different breed of people.  And things get weirder from there.  At times I felt genuinely bad for Holtzclaw; mindless obedience generally causes problems.  Other times, I was really frustrated with him.  Even later into the book [spoiler] after he joins forces with Ms. Rathburn to build their paddle boat hotel, he still tries to be the loyal doormat to Shadburn. I could sorta kinda understand where he was coming from, but at the same time, I couldn’t.  I could never quite figure out who he was looking out for—himself, Shadburn, or the Aurarians.

I dislike Shadburn very much.  “Loath him” may be the better way to put it.  Selfish, egotistical, maniacal.  Really annoying.  Though he did redeem himself at the end of the book.  No details, just read to find out.

I had a hard time reading Auraria.  The middle third of the book was the hardest for me.  I think it’s because Tim put so much effort in the research and making a realistically-set fantasy novel.  It wasn’t hard to buy into the story, it was hard to digest it.  I found it best suited to take in small chunks.  I, however, devoured the final third of the book in one sitting.  [spoiler] The undoing of the Queen of the Mountains, and ultimately Holtzclaw were marvelously well-written.  Even though he and his work are unraveling at the seams, and I felt bad for him (remember how loyal he is?), it’s all so absurdly funny. 

The last chapter of the book…a masterpiece.  I got such satisfaction from the ending—it left me feeling relieved and exhausted.  And redeemed.

This is a crazy, quirky read, full of descriptive language, unusual characters, and a story so unique I haven’t seen anything like this before.  Y’all, seriously, check this book out.

Thank you, Tim, for letting me read this!

4 Moons: Equal parts intelligence and insanity, and worthy of the moons gods

Get to reading,
Richard

3 comments:

  1. Yeah, this sounds very unique! I love a unique, original story.

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  2. I'm going to read this one super soon. *Checks her reading calendar* As in... right about now *laughs* Now, I'm looking forward to it even more!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Thanks for checking out my review!

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Thanks so much for the comment love!