Readers heading for the mountain town of Blackwell should check out dessert—apple pie with apples from the famous apple tree that the villagers swear was planted by Johnny Appleseed, or a slice of the mysterious local Apology Cake. Next, take a bottle of brew down to the Eel River late at night and try to catch a glimpse of the girl in blue, nicknamed "The Apparition." Don't miss the local museum, where the bat collection is said to have resided from the building's beginnings. Alice Hoffman's The Red Garden (Crown, Jan.) chronicles a town's history through its founders' trials and tribulations—from Blackwell's unhappy and unlikely beginning to the present day. Hoffman's characters are rich, her setting vivid, and your heart aches for the sorrow the garden has seen. If I were there, on my way out of town I'd visit the garden to dig my hands into the blood red dirt and see for myself if it really stains.