Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger
Author: Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy, book 1
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Review copy from publisher
Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes.
After tragedy befalls her family, Leah Westfall decides to leave everything behind and follows her best friend’s route to California, where the gold rush is just starting; the year is 1849. Leah hopes to find Jefferson on the road. A girl alone could never do that trip, but a boy could. For that reason and for security purposes Leah disguises herself as a boy. Her journey to California is harder than she thought. Bandits plague the road and knowing safety is in numbers, she finds a job with a caravan of mismatched travelers, but the conditions are harder than she could have ever thought and her limits and strengths are tested every step of the way. Things are especially harder for her when she not only needs to keep her identity secret, but also her magic, the one that helps her find gold.
A while back, I read Carson’s Fire and Thorn series and liked it. I was very intrigued when I saw Walk on Earth a Stranger available for review, so I decided to request it. I’m glad I did because I really liked this book. I thought it was engaging, original and difficult to put down.
I liked Leah as a character. She is a strong young woman who suffered a huge loss, but was strong enough to look for a way out of her difficulties. Her struggles and successes felt real; this made it easier to connect with her.
The secondary characters were diverse and portrayed the best and the worst qualities of people. There is a hint of a romance between Leah and her best friend, Jefferson, but nothing is concrete. I liked that it was not rushed and that the relationship -if I can call it that- was left in a good place.
One thing -or two things, I should say- that I loved about Walk on Earth a Stranger was the setting and the historical time. I haven’t read many western books and none set during the gold rush, for that reason I found Walk on Earth a Stranger not only refreshing and entertaining, but also very interesting. I loved how Carson vividly described the journey across the nation and the perils that it entailed. Her detailed descriptions of the setting and the occurrences the characters were experiencing kept me glued to the pages wanting to know what was coming next for them. Carson also provided enough twists and turns to kept me guessing the outcome and she surprised me more than once with things I didn’t see coming.
One thing that was pretty clear in Walk on Earth a Stranger was the amount of research Carson did for this book. Everything felt very accurate and nothing felt out of place. I liked that she addressed difficult topics like slavery, racism and the little value women had in society during those days. I also liked that she was very honest about the reality of the time.
Walk on Earth a Stranger is a great start to a promising series and a book that let me dying to get my hands on the second installment of the series, but for that one there is still a year or more to wait.
I recommend Walk on Earth a Stranger to YA fantasy lovers.
My Verdict: 4 ½ Paws
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