4 / 5 lilies
As a proud self-proclaimed history enthusiast, I have been anticipating the release of Walk on Earth a Stranger for months. Rae Carson is the author of the widely-popular Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy and really has a thing for trilogies. Walk on Earth a Stranger is the first novel in her newest series, the Gold Seer trilogy.
The story follows Leah Westfall during the height of the California gold rush in the mid-nineteenth century. After a harrowing loss in the first few chapters, Leah must decied whether or not she will strike out West from her small town home in Georgia. But Leah has a very valuable secret that she must keep hidden–she has the magical ability to sense gold.
As a character, I really enjoyed Leah. She is extremely intelligent, brave, and perseverant. She doesn’t let gender stereotypes constrict her actions–in fact, she very often works against them. In a word, Leah is a badass. She doesn’t make stupid, unrealistic decisions either. In a world where everything is working against her, Leah makes the most of what she has.
Carson also very clearly did her research on the time period, and the novel and tidbits of the language read very authentically. While she avoided popular, obvious historical references, she created a very developed and believable setting and cast of characters.
I also really appreciated the lack of emphasis on the love plot in the story. While I like reading about a whirlwind romance as much as the next person, not ever love begins so passionately. This is definitely a slow-burning romance that’s almost painful to wait for. I am a fan of the romance, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds in the next two novels.
My only real issue with the novel is with how quickly Leah deals with the tragedy that happens in the beginning of the book. I realize she is a very strong character emotionally, but it seems that it would realistically take longer to overcome such a loss than the time allotted in the book. Furthermore, I understand wanting to avoid pages of sorrowful descriptions, but her attitude was just a little unbelievable to me.
The magic element in this book–the gold sense–adds many different layers to the story that I enjoyed. It is both a help and a hinderance to Leah. It will be very interesting to see how her gold sense helps her in the journey West.
While a little slow at times, Carson’s descriptive writing gives the story a nice pace throughout the entire novel. She reconstructs such an interesting time in history in a very personal way. Though Leah is only fifteen at the start of the book, her character reads mostly like a woman in her younger twenties. Carson’s thoughtful work makes all of the characters, especially Leah, very relatable. I felt very attached to Leah, actually having a hard time reading through some of her struggles.
If you like historical fiction or Westerns then I definitely recommend this book. Walk on Earth a Stranger is a great stepping stone into both genres. I’m very glad I picked this one up when I did. The untitled second installment is set to come out in 2016.
Happy reading, lilies.