Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger
Author: Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
Genre: Teen Fantasy [ish]
Rating: 4/5 stars
The Overview: Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more. She also has a secret. Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it. When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.
As Rae Carson is responsible for my favorite Young Adult book of all-time, “The Girl of Fire and Thorns,” I knew I had to read everything she published next. “Walk on Earth a Stranger” had all of the elements I loved from her first series: excellent characters, fantastic settings, and immersive writing that draws you in completely. While “Girl of Fire and Thorns” will always sit on a pedestal for me, this first book in the “Gold Seer” trilogy gave it a good run.
My favorite thing about this writer is how she develops and crafts her main characters. In a market inundated with female leads who start out already good at everything, Carson’s heroines are anything but typical. It’s refreshing because these girls (Elise for “Girl of Fire and Thorns” and Lee for “Walk on Earth a Stranger”) are so much more relatable. They have flaws and insecurities like the rest of us, and experiencing how they cope with different trials celebrates their inner strength and fortitude and inspires me to overcome my own obstacles. Both leading ladies have magic, but it’s always their strength of character that gets them through the day. My favorite things about Lee in this novel are her resourcefulness and ability to make the best of some very tough situations.
Great characterization aside, another thing “Walk on Earth a Stranger” has going for it is the setting. This historical landscape immerses you in early America when the California/Oregon Gold Rush began drawing people west by the thousands. Not only was it interesting to read what came across as a well-researched timepiece, but it also made me incredibly nostalgic about things from my childhood (most notably “Little House on the Prairie” and that old “Oregon Trail” computer game I used to play in grade school… does anybody else remember that?), but represented in an edgier fashion.
I have to admit historical fiction is not my genre of choice, and even though “Walk on Earth a Stranger” had a few fantasy elements, they were nowhere near as integral to the plot as I would have liked. Well, perhaps the elements were indeed integral, they just weren’t always at the forefront. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend this book with fantasy as a main selling point. Genre aside, at the end of the day it was still an engaging story that will have you clamoring for the next one (coming out September 27, 2016):
Title: Like a River Glorious (Gold Seer #2)
The Overview: After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram. Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.
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