All the Recommender can say after reading Tim Westover's new novel, Auraria, is Wow! What a journey! It's hard to believe Auraria doesn't really exist and kind of sad to think you won't be able to pack an overnight bag and take a train through Georgia to this mountain retreat filled with an unusual assortment of characters both living and, well, not so alive.
James Holtzclaw is a dedicated company man. He is content working for Mr. H.E. Shadburn who got him out of a tight spot in the silkworm business and offered him employment as his accountant. Shadburn is a very wealthy man and his latest scheme is sending Holtzclaw off to the town of Auraria to buy as much land as possible from the locals so he can "improve" this run-down former gold mining town by flooding it and turning it into a lake and resort. He has given Holtzclaw a traveling bag filled with cash and gold coins with unusual markings. Gold that had been minted in Auraria.
Holtzclaw's coach arrives in town and he sets off through the hills to bargain with the farmers and land-owners.
As he makes the acquaintance of these and the other townsfolk and a variety of other puzzling characters like Mr. Bad Thing, the invisible pianist at the Old Rock Falls and Princess Trahlyta, a girl who seems to shadow his every step and speak to him in cryptic riddles... he finds himself getting more and more involved in their unusual way of life and the local passion of panning for gold.
This book is such a uniquely original delight that the Recommender has been recommending it all over the place. If you want to join Holtzclaw in his discovery of singing trees and tortoises and moon maidens and gold, gold, gold... then be sure to grab a copy and visit the dreamy, otherworldly pleasures of Auraria!