Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy, # 1)
By: Rae Carson
Expected Publication: September 22nd 2015 by Greenwillow Books
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.
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.
Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.
Historical fiction isn’t always my favorite. I have a few time periods that I do enjoy reading about, but they’re not numerous. When I read the description of Walk on Earth a Stranger I was torn. On the one hand, I liked how different the description was from what I normally read, but on the other hand, I read what I normally read because I have a pretty good sense of what I’ll enjoy and what I won’t. Reading a book about the California Gold Rush wasn’t something I was sure I would enjoy. Yet, others have raved about Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns series which has been on my TBR list for a few years. So I took this as a good opportunity to get my feet wet and finally read something by Rae Carson. But as happens sometimes, after I requested Walk on Earth a Stranger I started to second guess myself and think that I’m just not in the mood for something like this. The release date was approaching so I knew that I really needed to start it sooner rather than later and here we are.
Lee Westfall has to work hard even as a girl. Her father is sick and this requires her to take on a lot of the household responsibilities. She has to feed chickens, muck stalls, and even hunt to provide for her family. Lee’s never been your typical girl. She’s never had that luxury. Her unique ability to sense gold has kept her family from starving, but it’s a secret that their family guards dearly. They can’t just keep taking gold in and getting paid for it because people will start to get suspicious. Aside from that, it seems like Georgia is running out of gold to find. It’s true that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” and when someone finds out Lee’s secret, she’s forced to flee her home. Her best friend, Jefferson, also ran away a few days before Lee is forced to and so she plans to meet up with him in Independence and follow the gold to California along with the many, many others who set out to travel east in search of gold.
For a large portion of her journey, Lee travels alone. The only companion she has is her horse from home. She encounters many dangers, but life on the road is made a little simpler by her choice to travel dressed as a boy. She’s able to trade services and work in exchange for food and lodging from time to time. The solitary nature of the first portion of the book could make for some slower parts, but I felt like the story progresses at a nice even pace, and I was driven by a desire to know if she would ever catch up with Jefferson or if Jefferson would have left Independence before Lee makes it there.
Lee eventually does make it to Independence and joins up with a wagon train heading to California. She signs on under contract as hired help and must therefore continue her disguise throughout the journey. Despite pretending to be male, Lee does make several friends within their traveling party. Yet she still has a secret bigger than her gender to hide. The wagon train journey takes approximately 50% of the book and Lee’s solitary journey to Independence approximately 50%. The journey was interesting and they have a ragtag group of traveling companions. There’s the family that Lee signs up to work for. The husband is headstrong but not always wise. The wife submissive and religious, often coming across as arrogant. There’s a group of men that we don’t know too much about but seem to be a bit wild. We’ve got a war veteran, some college dropouts, a German family, a preacher and his pregnant wife, a half Caucasian half Native America, a girl pretending to be a boy, several children, horses, oxen, sheep, and a couple of dogs. I had a few minor issues with this chosen group of characters. It seems that most of these characters fit into a stereotype of some sort that seemed more fitting (to me) for today’s culture than the culture of 1848/1849 thus taking away slightly from the authentic feel of the story and time period.
Walk on Earth a Stranger wasn’t big in the romance area. There’s a hint of potential for a relationship to grow and blossom into more, but the book was definitely not about this. If you’re looking for a romance/kissing book, this is definitely not the one. However, I do see where this aspect could grow and be a bigger piece of the remaining two books in the trilogy. We’ll see. For my own reading preferences, I hope so.
-Everything’s harder when you do it alone.
-Strange how you don’t notice things until they’re taken away.
-“…But a man can’t wait forever and stay a man.”
-Turns out, the great, wide world doesn’t look anything like a flat, little map.
-Pretending is exhausting. I know it better than anyone. But I hope I never go so far as to pretend to myself…
-“No man should be a slave, but no man should be a thief either.”
Walk on Earth a Stranger was better than I expected it to be. I enjoyed Lee’s story and how her journey helped her learn so much about herself. The setting and time period was also more enjoyable than I expected, but I was slightly annoyed with some of the more modern stereotyped characters. I read Walk on Earth a Stranger in a little over 24 hours, although I can see where this might be a book that others could get bogged down with and take a good bit longer to read. I hope to see some romance really develop over the next book. But overall, I think Walk on Earth a Stranger deserves 4 Stars. Have you read Walk on Earth a Stranger? What did you think? Let me know!