My rating: 5 of 5 stars
James Holtzclaw arrives in Auraria, Georgia to manage his employer’s dream of turning the quirky lost town into a first class resort destination. Accomplishing this task requires that he work with the town’s unique eccentrics. He must overcome hurdles that would crush the most sophisticated hotel concierge or professional business assistant, yet Holtzclaw never wavers in his quest until he emerges from this challenge a changed man.
What makes this fantasy story with its headless ghosts, mythical creatures, and moon maidens so believable is that Holtzclaw never once questions their existence. His acceptance allows readers to easily suspend their belief of reality. If you give yourself over to this story, you’ll believe that Auraria exists if we could just travel down the right forest path in Appalachia.
Tim Westover has written a wonderfully intelligent fantasy folklore tale. His style brings to mind classic literature with its tight prose and advanced vocabulary, yet it is sprinkled with honest humor and idiosyncratic characters that make it a satisfyingly quick read. Both lovers of science fiction and connoisseurs of the written word will find equal enjoyment in this novel and feel blessed to have found the proper mixture of the two. Because I believe that this novel should become an instant classic on everyone’s reading list, I’m going to post this in the classic category for my Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge.
I immediately fell in love with Auraria because I remember being a young Bostonian arriving in rural West Virginia. This hero’s journey reminded me how I shed my city girl lifestyle for the slower pace of country life while attending a small liberal arts college. What had frustrated me and awed me as a freshman now endears me as an adult to the green, lush landscape that was the site of my priceless education. I hope everyone finds a little bit of themselves in Holtzclaw and earns his similar fate.