By Tim Westover
It's just a short drive from Gwinnett County to the mountains of North Georgia. Nestled in those mountains, not far from Dahlonega, is a ghost town named Auraria. It's from this town that Tim Westover's novel takes its name, and a great deal of its inspiration.
The story concerns James Holtzclaw, who arrives seeking to make his fortune. Outside of town he meets a young boy sitting on the edge of a misty ravine, holding a fishing pole above the gap. When the traveler points out most people have better luck fishing in places that are wet, the boy responds, "Mist is wet, isn't it?" The boy hauls up his line with a gold-tinged fish attached to the end. While Holtzclaw is at pains to point out how this defies all logic, the boy, unconcerned, continues fishing. The exasperated traveler journeys onward, soon to discover that the North Georgia mountains hold many more mysteries than mist-dwelling fish.
Using the rugged landscape as a backdrop, the story ambles along offering delight and unexpected whimsy at every turn of a mountain trail. As Holtzclaw attempts to turn the valley into a tourist destination for the well-to-do, he faces obstructions as far-ranging as moon maidens, giant terrapins, and uncooperative ghosts. The human residents, while more amenable to the changes, are still a peculiar lot. But Holtzclaw refuses to be deterred, despite the continual interference of a Princess who claims to control all the water in the mountains.
This is a great book if you like folk tales, tall tales, or fantastical stories set in your own back yard.
For more local stories try Spooky Georgia: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and other Local Lore.
Or, if you'd like to explore the mountains on your own, try checking out 50 Hikes in the North Georgia Mountains. To go along with it, you might also want the Georgia State Park Pass. With the pass you get free parking at any Georgia State Park or free admission for up to 4 people to historic sites in Georgia.
Review by Danny Hanbery
Request these books by clicking on the titles or the covers above.