We’re participating in the No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop! As a lot of you know by now, I’m originally from the Appalachian Mountains. So when I see a novel about that area, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. Auraria is a historical novel about the Georgia Appalachian Mountains in the 1800’s, with a twist. This story was based on a real ghost town, and combines mountain folklore, magical creatures and 19th century Appalachian life into an intriguing story. It’s also our giveaway for this hop, so two lucky readers are going to win a copy thanks to the publisher’s generosity!
James Holtzclaw is a man of logic and reason. He prides himself on his organizational abilities and his ability to negotiate a good real estate development deal for his employer, Mr. Shadburn. He’s just been given a new assignment, to purchase all of the land that comprises the remote Georgia Appalachian Mountains town of Auraria. He’s been given a sack of odd looking gold coins and a seemingly endless stack of federal currency with which to accomplish his mission. As usual – His duty is not to wonder why. His duty is just to do it, and as cheaply as possible.
“The thousands of dollars in federal notes were just ordinary paper, but the gold coins were the strangest he had ever seen. Instead of eagles and shields, the coins were stamped with images of bumblebees, terrapins, chestnut trees, and indistinct figures by a stream. The figures might have been bathing or panning for gold; they were too small to see. Shadburn had said the coins were minted in Auraria from local metal. The gold was returning to its source.”
Holtzclaw takes the train as far as possible; however, soon he’s relegated to a bone-rattling stagecoach as he goes deeper into the hollars and gaps that make up the mountains. Finally he has to walk from Great Hogback Ridge because the trail is too small for the stagecoach to use.
He’s not long in Auraria before he learns that it is perceived by its residents to be a gold-mining area where a man and/or woman can spend their whole life searching for that illusive strike that will make them rich. Most find just enough gold dust to keep them hunting the promise of a big strike that never manages to appear. The whole mountain is planted in crops on top and has mine shafts underneath that criss-cross under hill and hollar. The crops aren’t very well tended because a lot of folks spend more time underground than weeding and watering.
As he roams around convincing people to sell him their land, he meets water sprites and ghosts, sees moon maidens bathing and headless revenants playing pianos, and encounters all manner of creatures he had only imagined in fairy tales. Why he had never even heard of a singing tree before he came to Auraria. It isn’t just a played-out gold mining town, it’s an area rich in magic and wonder around every turn and its people believe it’s all normal. It might even house some ancient gods and/or goddesses from days gone by who no one ever talks about anymore.
“’Pleased to meet you James. Princess isn’t my name. it’s my title.’
‘Princess, eh? Where is your kingdom?’
‘This spring and the others like it,’ she said. ‘The valley. An hour upriver; the same downriver. And thousands of miles beneath your feet.’
‘You own all that?’ said Holtzclaw.
‘To be princess doesn’t mean to own it,’ she said…’I have a present for you,…she skipped across the water…and returned with the largest peach he had ever seen…Holtzclaw had to accept it with both hands. ‘A piece of customary hospitality,’ she said. ‘For the journey.’”
After some stiff and very interesting negotiations, Holtzclaw has bought up almost all of the land Shadburn needs but he still doesn’t know why he’s doing it. To make matters worse, the people and creatures of Auraria are beginning to grow on him. His logical, organized mind has ceased to question the realities vs. the fantasies he’s been encountering. In other words, he has begun to go native.
“’Money’s a bad guest,’ said the widow Smith Patterson, keeping her arms crossed. ‘It doesn’t stay long enough, and it makes an awful mess as it leaves.’”
When he’s suddenly called back to Milledgeville to account for his progress, he discovers the entire area will be flooded to create a giant lake for a new resort. And that is when logical, reasonable Holtzclaw begins to doubt Shadburn’s reasoning and to begin to wonder which is better – the Auraria of the present or the Auraria as Shadburn envisions it.
Now Holtzclaw is a person who prides himself on his reason and logic; however, he’s beginning to find he also has an underlying morality and fiber to his being that he might not have hitherto been quite as familiar with. What will he do? Can he let the quirky oddballs he’s come to care about in Auraria be left homeless? What about the native creatures whose homes will be destroyed? And what about all of the magical creatures – what will become of them if Shadburn’s plans are brought to fruition?
Auraria is a classic fish out of water story. It’s reminiscent of the mountain folktales and ghost stories I grew up hearing told on lazy summer afternoons. It also contains shades of the kinds of fairytales and stories everyone loved as kids. Holtzclaw is the perfect foil for the magical creatures and mountain folk he encounters in Auraria. Reading this book took me back to my Appalachian Mountains roots, and it will transport you to another time and a place of magical thinking. What more could you want in a book? And two lucky readers will win a copy in our magical giveaway!
Can’t wait to read it?
Auraria was published on July 10, 2012, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
I’d love to get your comments on Auraria, Tim Westover, and/or this review.
If you like this review, please “like” it, +1 it, and share it with your friends!
The publisher will send two lucky readers a copy of Auraria by Tim Westover!
Once you’ve entered our giveaway, be sure to click on the link just below the Rafflecopter form to go to all the other book-related giveaways in the No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop!
1) The deadline for entries is Sunday night, 7/22/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 15 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form.
5) If you do not provide a complete mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. The publisher will use your mailing address to ship your book to you.
6) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
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Click here to link to the other book-related giveaways in the No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop!