Author: Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer, #1
Released: September 22nd 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Length: 432 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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?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.
For those of us who are great fans of Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, Walk on Earth a Stranger couldn’t have come soon enough. But for a lot of us who’ve been expecting something similar to her debut, Carson’s sophomore project came as a complete surprise. Following the new Western trend in YA fiction, Carson takes us to a very real place in the middle of actual historical events, and adds just a touch of magic to spice it up a bit.
Carson’s writing is so compelling that it takes no effort at all to sink into one of her stories. Walk on Earth a Stranger is no different: a single chapter is more than enough to get caught in that page-turning frenzy. It helps that she keeps a steady, rather fast pacing the entire time, with peril for Lee and her friends at every turn.
Lee is on the run from her uncle ever since she realized that he killed her parents in a plot to control her and her ability to sense gold. Her goal is to reach California, where gold is said to be lying on the ground, just waiting to be picked up. Her best friend Jefferson is already on his way, all Leah has to do is disguise herself as a boy and catch up to him as soon as she can.
For all the importance they are given, Leah’s powers don’t really get a major part in this book. It’s just another secret she has to hide on her way to California, along with being a girl and a runaway to boot. I really wanted to understand more about her ability to sense gold, and I wish it was used a bit more, but there is still plenty of time to develop that aspect.
It’s silly to talk about worldbuilding when the world wasn’t actually built. It was, however, researched, explored and described so beautifully. Carson has the ability to take us precisely where she wants us to be without going into endless wordy descriptions. All it takes is a few sentences and the setting becomes so vivid that we can almost see, hear and taste everything around Leah and her friends. The road from Georgia to California is merciless and harsh, hard on any living creature, and especially on a young girl pretending to be a boy. I love that we were given insight into the best and the worst of it and that not a single thing was hidden from our eyes.
The romance in this book is weak to the point of being non-existent. We’ve learned from our previous experiences with Carson not to count on anything when it comes to romance, which holds true in this case as well. I saw a lifelong friendship with some potential, but there was very little chemistry between Lee and Jefferson and virtually no passion to speak of. Perhaps that’s what Carson is aiming for. Not every love has to be of the sudden and desperate variety. There is beauty in comfort and absolute trust, and a friendship like theirs can be a far better foundation for something solid and lasting.
It’s quite obvious that what we have in our hands is only a part of Leah’s journey and that more is yet to come. The story doesn’t have a solid conclusion, nothing substantial to hold onto, just a single goal achieved and a lot of uncertainty ahead.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.