Monday, January 9, 2017

Like a River Glorious - Review

Like a River Glorious (The Gold Seer Trilogy, # 2)

By: Rae Carson

Published: September 27th 2016 by Greenwillow

432 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--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.

The second epic historical fantasy in the Gold Seer trilogy by Rae Carson, the acclaimed author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

I put off reading Like a River Glorious because even though I enjoyed Walk on Earth a Stranger, I found it to be slow, and slow is the last thing I want to read when I have very limited time to read. I knew I wanted to continue the series, but I just dreaded picking up a book that was going to bog me down. Also, since reading the first five books of the Throne of Glass series, I was a bit fantasied out and really craved to read some contemporary. However, I finally picked up Like a River Glorious and unfortunately it was slow--at least in the beginning. I believe I was right at 50% finished before I really felt invested in the events and that the plot was picking up speed and intensity. And I feel like I need to say up front that most of what I have to mention in my review surrounds things I took issue with which means this review might sound more negative than I really felt.

Leah and company finally find a good place to settle in California that's rich with gold due to Leah's witchy gold sense (her words). But word travels fast that Leah's friends and family are making money and becoming prosperous. So it doesn't take long for Leah's Uncle Hiram to find her and as the description says, he won't stop at much to get Leah under his control so he can use her gold finding skills to make himself rich.

One of the downfalls of Walk on Earth a Stranger for me was the amount of characters mentioned. The group in the wagon train was just too vast for me to feel a connection to many of the characters (Leah, Jefferson, Major, and Becky aside). Even though we've lost many of the original characters along the way, Like a River Glorious still began with too many characters that I found myself emotionally unattached to. That means that certain events take place that should have had me feeling something, but I just didn't. The newer characters we meet in Like a River Glorious (Wilhelm and Mary, even Muskrat) were more likable for me and perhaps because of the amount of page time they each get, I was able to connect to each better than many of the original characters from the series.

Normally my favorite part of a book is the romance. And truth be told, the potential of a relationship blossoming between Leah and Jefferson was one of the biggest pros for my desire to continue the series after Walk on Earth a Stranger. But I really struggled with Leah's aversion to marriage. I can see today's women feeling the same way that Leah does. Men (one man in particular) have stripped her of everything she holds dear in life, but I found her thought process to be a struggle.

I also felt torn on the language of Like a River Glorious. Rae Carson did a great job of making the dialect feel appropriate for the time period. I'm sure she studied that and made her choices on purpose. I appreciate the authenticity this lends to the book. However, I also felt like there were a few too many "for sure and certain" phrases used.

Favorite quotes:

-Gold comes hard but goes easy, Mama always said.

-"I'm going to change your mind about marriage, Leah Elizabeth Westfall. Just you wait."

-"Trouble doesn't need our help to make itself."

-Frank never thought up a dumb joke he didn't want to say at least twice.

-Everyone has a breaking point. You think you can endure anything, you can take just one more day, and then suddenly you can't.

Totally not a fault of Rae Carson or her writing, but Historical Fiction is often hit or miss for me. There are certain time periods that I seem to enjoy reading about and some that I don't. I've never read any other books that take place during the gold rush, but I don't think this is one of those time periods that I'm really excited to read about. This is just a personal preference I've come to realize about myself.

Again, I'm sure this review comes off a bit more negatively than I intend, but that's just because the issues that I do have with Like a River Glorious were so obvious to me. I found myself more attached to the characters of Like a River Glorious than I did with Walk on Earth a Stranger. And even though I did have some issues, I'm definitely intrigued to see how the trilogy is going to end. Like a River Glorious gets 3.5 Stars from me. Have you read Like a River Glorious? What did you think? Let me know!

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