Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger
Author: Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Published: September 22nd, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)
The summary of Walk on Earth a Stranger from Goodreads:
The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Timesbestselling 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.
I absolutely loved Carson’s first series, and was really excited for this one. Not only is it Carson’s writing, but there’s a connection to history through the California Gold Rush. I devoured this book, unable to put it down until I got to the last page.
There’s more than a few things I loved about the book, but there are three things that made me love it even more.
Leah, after the murder of her parents, must escape from a man who wants to use her power to find gold. She sets off to join her best friend, Jefferson, on the trail to California in the wake of the gold discovery there. She’s escaping, hoping to put enough distance between herself and the man she can’t trust. She’s strong, both physically and mentally. She’s determined and doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows enough to find situations where she’s likely to be safe, at least temporarily. I love her character.
I also loved how big a role the secondary characters play in the novel. After the death of Leah’s family, she doesn’t really have anyone she considers family. She’s alone, aside from Jefferson, and he’s already left to travel to California. Along Leah’s journey, she meets many people who she comes to trust and think of as family. They represent many different backgrounds. They also address a lot of social issues, including race and slavery, homosexuality, and sexism.
Finally, I loved the setting. Historical fiction is always a must read for me, and with the addition of some magical realism, I was hooked immediately. It’s clear Carson has done her research and I’m incredibly thankful she did. It made it easier to follow and believe everything the characters went through. They could have easily been a real group of prospectors.
Some might see the slower pace as a negative, but I appreciated it. This first book felt like the introduction to her journey. It introduced us to important players and set up the tension necessary for a good series. There isn’t a major high point in the action, but that feels right. This is only the beginning of Leah’s story; we don’t need to see everything just yet.
If you liked Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns series, definitely read this one. Historical fictions fans will enjoy it, as will people who like fantasy stories. It’s definitely a good start to the series that will have you wanting the next book immediately.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Greenwillow Books for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.