Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

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Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Walk on Earth a Stranger
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, YA
Publication date: September 22, 2015
by Greenwillow Books

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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.
-A copy was provided by Greenwillow for review-

Long story short: this book got me out of a dreadful book slump.

One of a bookworm’s worst nightmares? That feeling when you just can’t get into any book. I’ve started feeling this way recently, having started at least five novels in the last five days and not finishing a single one. I just couldn’t feel anything towards them. Is it me or is it the book? Either way, I was a wreck with the guilt, considering the backlog of books, ARCs and otherwise, that have been on my shelves for months.

Leave it to Rae Carson’s fantastic storytelling skills and genuine characters to pull me out of that abyss. ALL HAIL THE QUEEN!

This book gave me newfound life. The Gold Rush era + an uncanny ability to feel the presence of gold wherever they are + a gender bender during a time when women are seen as something to be taken care and owned?! This is definitely one of the most unique premises I’ve read recently, and Carson owned it with Leah Westfall’s character, the only daughter of gold miner parents who was killed by someone after her abilities.

Leah Westfall is the fricking bomb, guys. I love her to kingdom come. She is headstrong, level-headed, and determined; she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty mucking stalls, hunting game, and looking for gold during a time when women were seen as only good enough for childbirth and laundry. Because of the unfortunate circumstances that befell upon her, she is forced to present herself as a boy in order to find a new life elsewhere, all the way to California where it was rumored numerous amounts of gold were found. And I don’t blame her at all for wanting to take this direction, especially during a time when bandits and thieves prey on lonely travelers. Women back then weren’t taken seriously when it came to business, either, so she had to disguise herself and take on a new identity in order to be able to do the things she was good at.

But even though her hands are calloused with the hard work she’s given throughout the years, she is still a vulnerable and relatable heroine and my heart ached and felt for her for the loneliness, danger, and restlessness she felt as she traveled and look for Jefferson, her best friend, who went on to California ahead of her. I can’t imagine what I would done if I were in her own shoes. Would I endure an uncle treating me like cattle, or be in control of my own life but be in risk of other dangers? I really like that despite everything, Leah simply wants to be able to be herself – not to be seen as a useless woman good for child-bearing and washing, but simply as Leah who can do these things and still be more.

And may I remind you, this took place in 1849 in the California Gold Rush.

The only thing about this book is that 80% of it is composed of traveling, so it may be too snail-paced to other people. I mean, America is huge! People back then didn’t have airplanes and trains were just starting to be built. People traveled the old-fashioned way – by walking, horseback, or wagons. And oh, steamships and flatboats, too. Because of this, the book is largely composed of Leah and her friends trying to survive the travel to California. They encounter bandits, hordes of buffalos, sickness. They go through mountains, through long rivers that take weeks to travel, and the scorching hot desert. They meet all kinds of people along the way – suspicious ones, endearing ones, slimy ones – and it’s all just so mesmerizing.

Yes, the pace is slow, but I loved every page, every second of it. Leah is an amazing, rootable character who is strong and full of life and resolve. I love how she took her life in her own hands and proved how people’s impression of her were wrong again and again. I love how even though certain individuals were demotivating her, even though she made fatal mistakes here and there, she never gave up and always, always, stood up again.

The only thing that I wasn’t really feeling here was the romance. It didn’t really feel genuine to me, although that may be because Jefferson was never a key character to Leah’s development and well-being. He was more behind the scenes most of the time and I guess that’s why I just couldn’t connect with him, and thus, couldn’t back their feelings for each other. But, hey, having read Carson’s previous series before, this may change.

All in all, this book is insanely good. Don’t mind the slow pace and just bask in Leah’s character and character development, and the relationships she creates with other people who are as interesting and diverse. Trust me on this one, guys!

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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10 Responses to “Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson”

  1. Sarah

    Ooh, really looking forward to reading this book. I loved her Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy so excited to see how the author will fare in a brand new setting. Sounds positive 🙂

  2. Vane J.

    I love that kind of characters (how many times have I said this?) and gosh, I didn’t know it was set at that time! Now I’m even more excited to read this. Fantastic review, Faye. 🙂

  3. Kirsty-Marie Jones

    Ugh, that feeling is awful. I was having that feeling lastweek, although Leigh Bardugo’s getting me through it. I haven’t read her Fire and Thorns series yet (will have to!) but looking forward to Walk on Earth a Stranger (more so now!) Leah Westfall sounds like my kind of character, she does sound strong but also relatable, and I mean, who doesn’t want to be seen as themselves and not as a gender? And being able to do what they want to do. I don’t think the pace would annoy me, I don’t mind slower ones but ahhh no, the romance. I don’t need romance, but when it’s there, I want to feel the connection, but hopefully that’ll change!

  4. Carina Olsen

    Yaaay 😀 Awesome review Faye. <3 So glad you mostly loved this book. I did too 😀 IT WAS AWESOME. But aw, I'm sorry you didn't like the romance :\ I loved it, hih. I think it will turn so great in book two 🙂 I cannot wait. Hope you'll feel it in book two, hih 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it. <3

  5. Danielle

    Faye, you have me super excited for this book!! I have been meaning to read one of Rae’s books forever and I will get to the GOFAT someday but the idea of a book set in the Gold Rush era has me drooling! Definitely bumping this up the tbr (legit just scrambled to get to my kindle to see if I had definitely dl’d it from EW…YAY! I did!) Fab review, love 🙂