In the first book of this series, “Walk on Earth a Stranger,” Rae Carson introduces readers to an alternate old west during the California Gold Rush era, where Leah Westfall has a special and certainly timely magical ability: she senses the presence of gold. Her family uses it judiciously, but her life changes suddenly and drastically when her greedy uncle kills her parents and takes control of Leah in his evil attempt to use her special ability.
In this sequel, Leah, her best friend/boyfriend Jefferson, and all their companions from the westward trip have found a place to settle and mine gold (thanks to Leah’s ability). But her uncle has not given up on his desire to use Leah’s ability to get rich.
He kidnaps Leah to force her to find gold for him. Carson uses the despicable uncle to show the mistreatment of native Americans and Chinese laborers during this time. From a quick online search about this subject, one learns that Carson unquestionably does not exaggerate how cruelly these groups were treated.
Carson manages to accomplish much in this second novel of the series. She continues with the character development of not only the two main characters, but some of the others as well. A “family” was formed during the wagon train’s trip west made up of those who survived in spite of hardships and attacks. The descriptions of the west and the terrain and the travails of the journey are vivid and painstakingly written.
Leah’s feelings and thoughts are clearly evident through the first person narrative. The reader sees the world around her through her eyes and feels, through Leah’s words, the atrocities committed by those in charge of the mines. She says, “The world is changing around us, and we’re the ones changing it. A funny feeling in my gut says we’re not making it better.” Jefferson, Leah’s best friend and love interest, is half native American. Two of the men in their group appear to love each other. Carson includes a wealth of diversity in the trilogy, and Leah appears blind to any differences in color of skin or cultural norms.
This trilogy will appeal to any readers who enjoy historical fiction, but also to those who like fantasy. And it will teach its readers some very important facts about the beauty of diversity, acceptance, and love.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Greenwillow Books, the publisher, for review purposes.
Read the review of “Walk on Earth a Stranger.”