Auraria: A Novel

Auraria: A Novel

4.2 7
by Tim Westover

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This baroque alternate history reimagines the town where America’s first gold rush started, weaving tall tales and legends, Carrollian surrealism, and a fascinating cast of characters into a genuinely inventive novel that reads like steampunk via Mark Twain. Auraria, Ga., was the site of a gold strike that presaged the California gold rush by 20 years and was the original cause of the Cherokees’ forced exodus along the Trail of Tears. Westover describes it as a town of spirits and portents, populated by piano-playing ghosts, potatoes that bite back with “starchy fangs,” and snowball hens that lay ice cream eggs. The valley proves more than a match for the speculator Shadburn and his lieutenant, Holtzclaw, whose plan to create a lakefront resort falls victim to the lust for gold. Meanwhile, Cherokee princess Trahlyta is determined to rid her domain of the alluring but useless metal. Fact and fancy are intertwined cleverly and seamlessly in a top-notch, thoroughly American fantasy. (July)

Product Details

QW Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)

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Auraria: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
Auraria offers an intriguing blend of folklore, paranormal, history and even some facts, since it takes inspiration from a real Georgian ghost town, and the folklore of the Southern Appalachians. A whimsical, fun experience, with captivating writing. The main character borders on being one-dimensional though, which was a letdown, but overall, I enjoyed it. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
JBronder More than 1 year ago
Jamse Holtzclaw is sent to Auraria to buy all the property in the town by his boss. When he gets to Auraria, he is a little out of his element. The town is populated by all sorts of paranormal, supernatural, folklore, and fairytale creatures. The first part is the plan is to gain the trust of the residence and start offering large amounts of money for the land. But it gets harder for James to buy the property the more he gets to know everyone. Then there is Shadwell. He is trying to buy all the property too. The only difference is that he plans on building a dam and flooding Auraria. Basically he wants to bury all the gold that can be found in the town underwater. I loved all the different characters in the book. I admit that I have not heard about a lot of the creatures, but that doesn’t surprise me since I’m not from the Georgia area. You can tell a lot of though went into the story since all of the creatures have their own unique traits and you can just picture yourself right there. This is a great book that you need to read. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tamsparks More than 1 year ago
Filled with folktales and magical imagery, Auraria is the tale of two men, Shadburn and Holtzclaw, who try to turn the small, mountainous town of Auraria, Georgia into a world-class vacation resort. The first sentence of the book sets the tone for what’s to come: “Holtzclaw hadn’t heard of Auraria until his employer sent him to destroy it.” Holtzclaw is given the task of buying up all the land parcels in Auraria so that his employer Shadburn can launch his plan. But when he arrives and starts getting to know the townsfolk, he discovers a wild and unpredictable place full of ghosts, singing trees, and moon maidens that bathe in the springs of Auraria in order to wash the gold off their skin. At first Holtzclaw is skeptical of the piano-playing ghosts and fish that jump out of the mist, but the longer he stays in Auraria, the more he becomes enchanted by the magical forces at play. Most of the land owners he approaches sell their property willingly enough after seeing the pile of money and gold coins Holtzclaw pulls out of his bag, and before long Shadburn joins Holtzclaw in Auraria to begin putting his plan into action: building a huge dam to stop the waters that flow throughout the town to create an immense lake, which will literally bury Auraria underwater. The pace of the story is like a leisurely stroll down a mountain path. Westover takes his time painting a picture of the strange town, and his masterful descriptions of Auraria and its inhabitants evoke a folktale feeling. The themes of water and gold weave their way throughout the story. When Holtzclaw first arrives in town, he meets Princess Trahlyta, a mysterious girl who appears whenever Holtzclaw is near the water. She pops up again and again in the story and serves as a mentor and a muse for Holtzclaw as he becomes embroiled in the goings-on of the strange community. And Auraria, like its name, is full of gold, but only those who are lucky will ever find it in vast amounts. Flakes of gold, or “colors,” are everywhere, and the residents of Auraria even wear hats that double as gold pans. But as the residents are told to move to higher ground before the lake rises, Shadburn reveals a darker purpose for flooding the valley: he wants to literally bury the gold underwater and recreate Auraria as something other than a gold town. As Shadburn’s vision is finally realized and people begin to flock to the newly built Queen of the Mountain hotel and Lake Trahlyta, the ill-built dam begins to crumble and the townsfolk’s ever-increasing dreams of gold spark a frenzy that signals the end of Shadburn’s dream. Westover’s imagery is wonderful. When Holtzclaw goes to the cemetery to try to convince the ghosts to abandon their graves, he finds them unwilling to leave: “The dead clung to their coffins like survivors of a shipwreck.” And at the Old Rock Falls tavern he meets Abigail, whose dusty bottles of spirits evoke a magical world: “At the bottom, sediment in suspension was swirled upwards by Abigail’s handling then drifted downwards again like a lazy ghost.” Auraria contains far too many marvels to list here. I was reminded of both Lewis Carroll and Neil Gaiman, for both the playfully absurd characters and Westover’s ability to make the reader fall in love with a town full of magic and ghosts, despite that absurdity. The author weaves a spell that will leave you believing in ghostly piano players and story-telling terrapins, all the way to the book’s perfect and satisfying end.
Meg-ABookishAffair More than 1 year ago
This book was definitely different than I expected. It's sort of hard to categorize it. The story is definitely unique. I could see this story appealing to a wide variety of readers. As a historical fiction lover, I really liked the historical elements. The story takes place in the late 1800s. It was interesting to see what things were like then. There is also a really interesting fantasy element to it, mostly having to do with the characters, which I will get into later. Auraria is in the middle of nowhere Georgia. It's not all that notable except for the people or rather beings that make their home there. I loved all of the different beings in this book. Westover does a great job with making them feel really real. That's definitely a talent! I love when authors are able to turn the fantastic into something familiar. It's sort of magical realism in a way. My favorite character was the Princess of the lake. She is just a really cool and very well written character. The downside of this book to me really had to do with the main character, Holtzclaw. There is all of this fantastic stuff going on around him and he's just not that exciting on his own. He's definitely a good guy and is trying to do right by his employer, Shadburn, and by the people of the town but he struck me as a little bit flat. On the upside, he did help to make the more unique characters stand out a little bit more. Bottom line: This book is great for those who like a little fantastic with their literary.
cindymt More than 1 year ago
There once was a town called Auraria in Georgia. An ordinary, rather dour clerk, Holtzclaw, on a mission for his boss, runs smack into this town’s magic. Moon maidens, a water goddess and fantastic peaches are just some of his encounters. His attempts to first ignore the fact of magic, then to find some logical explanation and then to deal with it, never seem to shake his sense of duty. The mission involves a personal project for the boss who normally walks away from every deal richer than before. It soon becomes obvious that the boss is way too personally involved and his Midas touch washed away. Holtzclaw is left to deal with the oddities of magic while trying to save the boss, the project and a giant invincible turtle. Received free copy for review.