Walk on Earth a Stranger
Author: Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Source: ARC received from publisher at BEA
Rating: 3.5 Stars
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***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.
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.
The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.
I love Rae Carson. The Girl of Fire and Thorns
is one of my favorite series. Not only did I meet Hector, Lord Commander of my heart, in that series, but I also fell in love with Elisa and the world Rae created. So when I heard about her newest series I was beyond excited. I couldn’t wait to dive into a new Rae Carson story. Set during the Gold Rush, this book is about a girl who can sense gold beneath the ground. Think of it as water witching, but for gold. Obviously she’s a hot commodity in this time. So she keeps herself a secret, but secrets don’t always stay buried and she runs away to California to escape and start over.
My biggest issue with this book was the pacing. It was so slow. We are basically following Lee’s journey from Georgia all the way to California and at times, the pacing got a bit tedious. There are times when not much is happening, just wagons covering the ground, rolling over burning sands, sliding down mountains, etc. The positive side of this was that it was very realistic. Rae spares no detail and she definitely gives us the brutally honest picture of what a journey out west during the Gold Rush would have been like. But because of the pacing and the immense detail, I felt like I was reading a history book at times, not a novel.
I also wanted more emphasis on Lee’s ability. It’s the central focus of the synopsis so I kind of expected more, but it’s just kind of there in the background the entire time. I’m sure we’ll see more of it in future books, but I wanted more now in this book. Not just a journey across the country with the occasional niggling sensation of gold beneath her skin.
The characters were okay, but I didn’t fall in love with them like I expected to. There wasn’t anything wrong per se with Lee, but I just couldn’t really connect to her for some reason. And the romance didn’t do much for me either. I wanted it to, and I felt like it could have been great, but it was missing that spark that I wanted. The feels that I craved just weren’t there. I mean, it is hard, near impossible, to compete with Hector. That was probably my mistake. No one can live up to that man.
All that being said, I still enjoyed this book. You really get a sense of the history in this book and feel like you’re right there with them while they cross the Mississippi River, ride over the plains of the Midwest, walk through the scorching desert and climb the treacherous mountains. Just when you think things can’t get worse they do and I appreciated that Rae didn’t sugarcoat things.
There were underlying themes of sexism and racism with Lee pretending to be a boy and how differently she was treated depending on which gender people saw her as. And Jeff was judged for being half Indian. Those themes added depth and layers to the book and made you stop and think. Or in my case, just made you super angry that people were so goddamn judgmental.
Overall I enjoyed the book, but I did have some issues with the pacing, the characters and the fantasy element of the story. I will definitely read the next book in the series because I have high hopes that the pacing will pick up and we will get to see more of Lee’s abilities. And hopefully the romance becomes a bit more swoon-worthy. This is an interesting and unique historical fiction that will leave you craving more dust, cowboys and gold. Or just make you want to play Oregon Trail. For real though.
Have you read this book yet? What did you think?