Auraria: A Novel

Auraria: A Novel

by Tim Westover

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“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.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940044953789
Publisher: Tim Westover
Publication date: 09/11/2012
Sold by: Smashwords
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 19,780
File size: 433 KB

About the Author

Tim Westover, a graduate of Davidson College and the University of Georgia, lives in suburban Atlanta. Westover is an established writer in the International Language Esperanto; his short story collection Marvirinistrato [Mermaid Street] was published in 2009, and his stories appear in translation in the anthology Star in a Night Sky (Francis Boutle Publishers, UK). Born in the north, educated in England, and frequent visitor to Russia, he found his home in the North Georgia mountains, where his first novel, Auraria, is set. In addition to writing, Westover busies himself with programming, playing the clawhammer banjo, and raising his one-year-old daughter to be a modern American eccentric.

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Auraria: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
SuZ2Reader 11 days ago
Auraria is a marvelous book. Though it is apparently based on a real ghost town in Georgia, natural, supernatural, real and fake blend in a mystical world. With its water spirits, sheep fruit, moon maidens, haunted pianos, ghosts (including a headless one and one who plays the piano), and a story-telling invincible terrapin that lives under the mountains, Auraria is comparable to reading an extended fairy tale or folk tale. Wondrous things keep Holtzclaw, the protagonist, busy, but he eventually takes them in stride. The book is filled with playful absurdities, with the qualities of folk tales and legends.
morningwalker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book seemed to have all the right elements for a great story. Unfortunately, it just didn't work for me. It took too long for anything of interest to happen to engage me in the story. Even then, it wasn't enough to make me eager to continue. The characters were flat and the author seemed to be trying to include too many genres in one story. This made many parts feel underdeveloped or too far fetched. The main character, Holtzclaw is sent to Auraria to acquire land for his employer, Shadburn. But why? This wasn't revealed for way too long and even then it wasn't that interesting. I was never able to form a clear picture of Holtzclaw in my mind and felt totally indifferent to him, as well as to many other characters in the story. Was this a ghost story, a myth, a fable, a fantasy, an allegory? I just couldn't tell and I guess it wouldn't have mattered if the story was good, but I wanted to quit about about halfway through. I plodded on hoping for redemption that never really came.
faceinbook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mr Westover's "Auraria" is a fairy tale for adults. Reading his novel is like going back to a time when our imaginations were young and stories were able to transport us to places that, and introduce us to characters who, exist only in the mind of the author. In the hands of a good author fantastic places become real, unlikely characters are drawn into existance and we are transported from the real to the imaginary. As an adult reader this task is far more difficult than it was when I was a child however, Tim Westover accomplishes this with ease.One reviewer compared this book to "Through the Looking Glass" I agree but would add that this novel is like Charles Dickens falls through the looking glass. Westover's ability to create characters, draw a time and set place is so engaging that the reader readily will suspend belief and travel with him in this wonderful tale.
EmScape on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I requested this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program because the description, of a place in Georgia where supernatural creatures abound, intrigued me. I was excited to learn that I had won it. When I got the book, however, I saw on the back cover that it had been compared to Alice in Wonderland and I was much less enthused. I really, really did not like Alice or Through the Looking Glass (please don't stone me!). Fortunately, though, I really did like this book. I identified heavily with Holtzclaw, who is charged by his increasingly distracted employer to purchase land in Auraria and then build upon it a grand hotel. As the wondrous happenings kept piling up, Holtzclaw tended to take them in stride and respond respectfully and pleasantly, without freaking out or disbelieving as a lot of fantasy protagonists who are not originally from the outlandish place they find themselves. I found it amusing that Holtzclaw had more trouble with the supposedly "regular" people: contractors, out-of-town guests, etc, than he did with the ghosts, giant turtle, eccentric townspeople, and baa-ing fruits. The writing was descriptive and captivating, I hardly wanted to put it down. Apparently, this is the author's first novel in English, but you wouldn't be able to tell. One small nit-pick: as I was reading, I dismissed many typographical, spelling and grammar errors thinking this was an ARC. Turns out it isn't. Uh-oh. On the whole a very entertaining and rewarding book. You could even read it with/to your kids; although it isn't written expressly for children, there wasn't a single bit of objectionable content. It's probably less racy than the Wonderland books, but with a much more intriguing plotline. I kind of wish I could relocate to Auraria myself. It seems there would never be a dull moment!
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Holtzclaw has been sent to the small mining town of Auraria to purchase its land. When he arrives he finds that the supernatural is real and that Auraria's citizens aren't all human or alive for that matter. Once the land is bought, Holtzclaw and his employer begin transitioning it into a first-class resort.I found this book a bit boring. The supernatural elements were interesting, but not enough to keep my interest. There seemed to be little action in the first half of the book and I had a hard time becoming invested in the characters. I think that some will enjoy this book. It is full of folklore, legends and good old southern people. I do think this book belongs in the library; I'm just not sure how many people will check it out.
DenzilPugh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just finished Auraria. Very good read. I find that the most pleasurable times while reading are the little things in life experienced through words. The boy fishing at the beginning, the fruit scene outside the eatery.... that's what makes this book worth reading. Fantasy works sell themselves on epic, noble actions, against the evilest of foes. But in works such as this, or in something like George MacDonald's "At the Back of the North Wind," or "The Quest for the Faradawn," by Richard Ford, it's the ordinary actions of life that enrich the books, endear them to the heart. And it's often these things that amateur authors (and by that I mean even some that are wealthy and have published many books) overlook, and it diminishes the "afterglow" of the book. If I have not lived in the world between the pages, it cannot reappear in my dreams, float about in my thoughts. It's the balance between the two that authors must find, (for instance, Terry Brooks describes every tree in the forest...) and I'm glad that you've found a decent balance. There is so much potential here, as there usually is in what what Tolkien called "Faery" (and I realize that the world you have painted has nothing to do with elves and the like, but the play-dough, the Platonic "Form" is the same). I would have loved to linger more in the houses Holtzclaw went into, explore the fantastic normality of the citizens. I look forward to your next venture.
dgmlrhodes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a highly inventive book that seems to break the bounds of traditional literature. The story is that of Mr Holtzclaw who undertakes a journey to purchase properties in Georgia. The characters are unique and one of a kind that reminded me of classic fairy tales. This book was a nice surprise and a good departure from variations of mainstream novels. If you like a good ghost story and a few monsters thrown in this is a great readReader received a complimentary copy from Good Reads First Reads.
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.