Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Auraria: A Novel" by Tim Westover

Tim Westover uniquely mixed magical realism, fantasy, folklore, fairy tale, and historical fiction together to create an interesting book named "Auraria". The genres are mixed well and blend seemlessly. Westover did a great job with writng. I just honestly don't know how I feel about this book. 

The book's very first line reads "Hortzclaw hadn't heard of Auraria until his employer sent him to destroy it." which made for a great opening line! Auraria is a town deep in the mountains of Georgia that is obsessed with gold mining despite rarely finding gold, fishing is done by casting a line into the strange mist, and houses have infinite interior space. The story takes place during the 19th Century and is based around Appalachian folklore. 

I honestly hate when people compare books to other books, but in this case I am breaking my own rule because I'm not sure how to explain the weirdness of this book without comparing it to Lewis Carrol's Adventure In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass. It is the fantastical characters and awkward weirdness that makes this book intriguing at times and thoroughly confusing at others. 

I think I could have really enjoyed this book more if I had knowledge beforehand of the basis of some of these ghost stories and history of the folklore used. The story setting has a divine richness to it which is really the main thing that kept me reading. The main character was a bit dull- all these strange things keep happening to him and he is a blank slate with no reaction or feeling to the craziness around him. 

Auraria is extremely well written. Westover did a fantastic job at describing characters and places. I had no problem imaging  them.  The plot kept me intrigued, and though at times I was confused, it was (almost) never a boring plot. I do feel that the strange side stories were confusing at times and took away from the main story. 

To the right reader this book is a 5 star read. To me, however, this was a 3 star read. Entertaining, yes, but there was just something "off", which left me confused. The ending was satisfying and appropriate and I honestly was left with the notion of wanting to research Appalachian folklore in hopes of better understanding certain plot points of the story.  I think because it is based off a real place (Auraria, GA exists) and includes real "beliefs" I just couldn't get lost in the magic. I wanted to know more about the "real basis" which didn't allow me to just enjoy the story. 

Happy Reading! 

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