Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-05-28
- Reviewer: Staff
This baroque alternate history reimagines the town where America’s first gold rush started, weaving tall tales and legends, Carrollian surrealism, and a fascinating cast of characters into a genuinely inventive novel that reads like steampunk via Mark Twain. Auraria, Ga., was the site of a gold strike that presaged the California gold rush by 20 years and was the original cause of the Cherokees’ forced exodus along the Trail of Tears. Westover describes it as a town of spirits and portents, populated by piano-playing ghosts, potatoes that bite back with “starchy fangs,” and snowball hens that lay ice cream eggs. The valley proves more than a match for the speculator Shadburn and his lieutenant, Holtzclaw, whose plan to create a lakefront resort falls victim to the lust for gold. Meanwhile, Cherokee princess Trahlyta is determined to rid her domain of the alluring but useless metal. Fact and fancy are intertwined cleverly and seamlessly in a top-notch, thoroughly American fantasy. (July)