Series: The Gold Seer #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on September 22, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
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.
WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is the first in Rae Carson’s new Gold Seer trilogy, a YA series set during the California Gold Rush. While the main character can sense gold, which gives the book a touch of fantasy, this first installment is mostly historical fiction as Lee travels from Georgia to California in a wagon train.
I don’t know about you, but I liked playing The Oregon Trail game as a kid, and this book really did feel like the game come to life. But with a great cast of characters, especially Lee. I really liked Leah. She’s devoted to her family, helping them work their claim and use her special ability to make things a little easier. But when her parents are murdered, and her only living relative turns out to be a slimy man who wants her gold divining ability for himself, Lee takes her life into her own hands. Disguising herself as a boy, she manages to survive plenty of dangerous situations before even setting foot on the trail. When she makes mistakes, she learns from them. And though she’s afraid Hiram might find her, she relentlessly keeps going in an effort to have independence and use her ability for herself.
WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER spends a lot of time on the trail to California. I really got the feel of how difficult and dangerous such a journey was, and all the various hardships one could face. I think the author did a fantastic job of setting the scene, making me feel like I was on the trail. Rae Carson also showed the attitudes of that day, such as racism towards Native Americans and African Americans, and contrasted them with modern views. I also liked how Lee thinks about family, if it’s possible to pick your own. I like the idea of having a new family based on shared experiences and bonding, and not being forced into staying with bad blood.
I did expect a bit more fantasy in WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER, mainly because of Lee’s gold sensing ability. Lee doesn’t question her talent or wonder where it comes from. I wanted to know more about it, but I suppose that’s coming in the next books. There are also a couple of hard-to-believe events, such as Lee finding two people from home in the space of weeks in Independence. Looking back, the pacing of WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is also a bit slow, with so much time spent on the trail and Lee’s difficult journey. I’m guessing the purpose of the book is to forge Lee into an even stronger woman, one ready to face off with her uncle.
Overall, I’d recommend WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER if you’re looking for a great YA historical with just a touch of fantasy. I really can’t wait to see what’s next for Lee and the others.
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