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?
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.
When you first open up this lovely book, you are greeted with a map of the United States and there these boxes containing place names in over-sized font. Independence, MO. Fort Hall. Soda Springs. If you’re a child of the late 80s/early 90s as I was, your mind goes to one place: Oregon Trail. All the trials and tribulations your family suffered there are present here, only lovingly fleshed out and our heroine survives.
Make no mistake: this is a western, through and through. Leah’s ability to sense gold is in essence, salt. It gives the story some added depth of flavor, elevating a good story even higher.
I will give credit where it is due: Carson did not impress me with her fantasy. Her world just wasn’t that original and I still have issues with the body issues presented in that book. It was ultimately just okay. Here though, Carson shines. She took her time to do her research. She found a way to create a character that felt like she could be believable: how she goes from respected when they think she’s male, to a demotion to something that’s somewhere between the respect that she had as “Lee” and the second class status that women of the era generally had. There’s a nice cast of side characters and you feel for the camp as they struggle to get across the country.
My only real complaint about the story is that it is a bit slow to get going, but I do think it’s interesting enough to keep you reading all the way through.
It’s nice to see YA get some quality books in genres outside fantasy, and even more to find one with crossover appeal is fantastic.
I’m willing to wager that most of the people reading this blog haven’t really read a Western before (*raises my own hand*) and this seems like a fine place to start.
Verdict: Buy It