Captivating Historical Fiction with a Dash of Magic | Review of ‘Walk on Earth a Stranger’ (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1)

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Greenwillow Books
Image Credit: Goodreads

“Leah Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more. She also has a secret. Leah can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it. When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.” —Goodreads

Published September 22, 2015, by Greenwillow Books, Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson is a young adult tale set in the historical context with just a dash of fantasy and magic.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift. What an unexpected delight. Walk on Earth a Stranger sets up an interesting premise, a rare setting with a strong female protagonist. There is this aspect of the novel that offers readers a bit of the supernatural, a dash of fantasy in an otherwise very grounded piece of work. The fantastical is not the center of the story, it’s both the focus and not the focus because it’s about Leah, a girl from a small town in the 1850’s, who has the ability to sense and find gold. Because of this ability, she has lost her family to a despicable character and her life is now at risk. So she decides to risk everything by running away from Georgia to California.

Admittedly it’s a very slow book but that’s because one has to realize the reality of this time. They traveled by horses, and steamboats and ox carts. Travel was hard and long, the opposite of today’s age in technology. And for Leah she decides to take the trek by herself, making her way on her own, meeting good people along the way and proving to herself that she can be a strong independent person. She runs away dressed as a boy and that takes such courage. That courage is what gives her such vitality and makes her a compelling character. Leah has such powerful emotions, she loses everything in a single moment and she allows her rage, sadness, and overall frustration of just being a girl in this era where women have no power, to fuel her. She takes everything and uses it to keep her going even when she wants to give up.

But back to the main point, the story is slow and steady. It builds the tension between the characters and the tension Leah feels with having to be a girl but pretending to be a guy. But the slowness only adds to the believability of the novel itself. You don’t have to know a lot about history to grasp the context of the story. There’s nothing outlandish story wise that detracts from the story. It has the hardships but it never loses the hope that the Gold Rush offered so many people, it shows what they were all willing to suffer to make it, just like these characters who all wanted a new life. The novel captures that so beautifully by bringing together various characters with different backgrounds going on this journey together.

Leah’s narrative is enough to captivate the reader and drive the story forward. It’s not a complex story, it’s straightforward. Overall the characters, alongside the story, they are all grounded, they are believable, and to a small extent, they do grow through the hardships they face on the journey. There’s not a ton of action but the tension is amazing and with a character as strong as Leah, one can’t help but be captivated. (★★★★☆ | B+)

Product Details;

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

Page count: 436pp

Age Range: 12 & Over

ISBN: 978-0-0622-4291-4

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

List Price:  $17.99

Get a Copy:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.