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Life, Law & Libros

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson eARC (3 stars)

I don't usually think of myself as a fan of westerns, but I had a lot of fun with this Gold Rush, pioneer trail adventure! Lee has a lot going for her as a protagonist, and several levels of conflict and tension keep the story engaging throughout.

This eARC was provided through Edelweiss for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
Genres: YA, Historical, Fantasy
Published on September 22, 2015
Published by Greenwillow Books
Final Rating: 3 stars
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.

Walk on Earth a Stranger is a mix of Mulan and Oregon Trail. Narrator Lee has a long way to go to California, and the only way she's getting there is dressed as a boy.

Overall, I thought the story was pretty good! Of course, when the majority of the story flows well, the rough spots stick out. It's very limited on the romance front in this installment, and what is there left me a little confused. I was also confused about Lee not having more of a reaction to finding out some of the wagon train guys are gay. Honestly, the introduction and treatment of that element seemed a little off for the time period, which made Lee's complete lack of reaction stand out even more. I wasn't necessarily surprised considering Lee's politically correct views (per modern standards) on just about everything else; but it pulled me out of the story and felt like a soapbox add-in.

We meet a number of really interesting secondary characters and get quite a bit of development out of some. However, because of the nature of Lee's circumstances and her determination to keep to herself and keep her secrets, they all felt kept at arm's length.

The ending is really, really anticlimactic. Really. I'm kind of interested to see where this trilogy goes next...but I also kind of get the feeling the best, most exciting parts are behind us and everything from here on will be drama, feelings, etc. I would still recommend reading Walk on Earth a Stranger. It can work as a standalone, and it's a good, fun story. :)


  1. This makes me a tad nervous to read this one. I must admit I wasn't overly drawn to the summary but I love the cover and wanted to try it because the author is so well loved. I get distracted if historical books don't stick with social standards of the time period. I honestly don't know how that stuff was looked at on the trail. I'd actually be interested to find out! Wonderful review!

    1. Thanks, Kristen! This was my first book by Carson, but, even taking into account the rough spots, I'm glad I read it and would recommend giving it a shot. Especially if you like Mulan. ;)

  2. This one sounds all over the place. A Mulan Western? But I trust Rae Carson and this is a pretty positive review from you :)

    1. I can hear the emperor's speech: "I've heard a great deal about you, Leah Westfall. You stole your daddy's boots, ran away from home, impersonated a boy, out-shot the wagon train men, destroyed their sensibilities, and...saved a few people." ;)

  3. Aw man, I'm sorry the ending was anti-climactic. I HATE that!

    I actually started this one. I only got like 10% of the way through but I was bored. I didn't hate it, it's just that nothing was grabbing me, you know? So I put it down.

    But as Alyssa said, it sounds like this book was all over the place O_O

    Despite all that, I'm glad you still enjoyed it! :)

    1. Thanks, Ashley! It was just such a strange plotting decision at the end. It created and (mostly) settled a major conflict in about three pages, one I really expected not to arise until the next book. I'd have been more likely to read the next book if they'd waited on it. Now, the mystery is solved, the suspense is broken, and a plot that could have had an awesome buildup and climax all its own died a swift death. :( But still overall enjoyed the book, though the beginning is a tad slow.

  4. I have 25% left in this book! So I'm not going to read your review too closely. I already saw a spoiler in there so I stopped reading (not that it really bothers me, but it took me by surprise because I only have a little bit left and there was that spoiler!). I'm liking it so far, but I've caught some anachronisms - and anachronisms REALLY bother me, just ask Fiona Paul/Paula Stokes :D

    Anyway. Excellent review, Kel!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. *facepalm* I'm so sorry! I try to avoid spoilers, or if I have to talk about something to leave out the details, D: Can't wait to see your review, though!