{Review + Design Analysis Vlog} WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER by Rae Carson

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

    I HEAR THE DEER BEFORE I see him, though he makes less noise than a squirrel--the gentle crunch of snow, a snapping twig, the soft whuff as he roots around for dead grass. I can hardly believe my luck.
    As quietly as falling snow, I raise the butt of my daddy's Hawken rifle to my shoulder and peer down the muzzle. A crisscross of branches narrows my view. The deer must be allowed to wander into my sights, but that's all right. I am patient. I am a ghost.    I've tucked myself into a deadfall, the result of an ancient, dying oak looming above me. Snow fills the cracks between branches, creating a barrier to the wind. I can barely see out, but I'm almost warm. The snow around me clinks and tinkles like bells, melting in the early morning warm snap. The hem of my skirt and the petticoats underneath are ragged and soaked. If the girls at school saw me now, I'd hear no end of it, but it doesn't matter. We have to eat.    Which means I have to make this shot. If only I could conjure up fresh game whenever we needed. Now that would be a useful magic.
(pgs. 1-2, US hardcover edition)

"Daddy always says I was born with a gold nugget in my left hand and a pickax in my right."
~Leah "Lee" Westfall, WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER

I have been waiting for the release of WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER by Rae Carson for such a long time! I heard about the book when the publishing deal was announced in 2012, and I loved Carson's Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy so much that I was eager for more from her. I've bought entire anthologies just to read more from her. I'd read the entire dictionary if she wrote it. She's that good. FINALLY her new series begins tomorrow, and I can't wait to see what everyone thinks!

Don't they look so pretty together!?

Unlike high fantasy The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy, Carson's new The Gold Seer Trilogy is historical fantasy. Carson taps into a seldom-explored time period--especially in fantasy--and sets the trilogy in 1849 during the Gold Rush. Readers will experience an era full of wagons headed west, lawless bandits, and more as they follow Leah Westfall on her journey to California. Lee is traveling with two dangerous secrets: 1) "He" is really a girl in disguise, and 2) She has the ability to sense gold. People would kill for her abilities, and she isn't safe traveling alone as a female, so both secrets keep her on her toes. On top of that, she's heading West not to find gold, like everyone else, but to stay out of the clutches of her gold-hungry uncle who murdered her entire family in order to get to her. Uncle Hiram is on his way to California, too, and will stop at nothing to get Leah back. The journey West is dangerous in more ways than one, and Lee has to be tough if she wants to survive.

I've said it before when talking about Carson's novels and I'll say it again now: She has a way of turning setting into a character in and of itself. You feel like you're wherever she wants you to be, from the type of food being eaten to the smell and feel of the surrounding land. It's a hallmark of her writing style, and one of the reasons I adore her so much. I always feel like I'm right there with the characters. The setting is especially strong in WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER. The book is very much a "journey" book. Not everyone likes journey books because they can be really boring. And they aren't always necessary. But the journey is absolutely necessary in order to bring the future books to life. Carson manages to balance the journey with characters readers will care about. The route West is perilous and full of danger, which brings new life to something that could have been straightforward and dull. There's also not a huge amount of fantasy in this book, but now that Lee is in California among the gold, I think there will be a lot more to her magic in the remaining two books.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the world open up and become something completely different. I'm intrigued by Leah, a girl who can sense gold, as well as the time period of the novel. Plus, Lee is made of some pretty tough stuff, especially being female in the era she's from. It's so easy to root for her and wish her well! Some characters are more well-developed than others, but that happened in Carson's debut trilogy as well, and several of those characters grew and expanded and became favorites over the course of the series. I have a feeling her writing style will be very similar and that she'll turn characters upside down and give readers scenarios they aren't even expecting yet, and I can't wait to delve into this world all over again!

If you've never read Carson before, I highly recommend her Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy. I've previously reviewed THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, THE CROWN OF EMBERS, and THE BITTER KINGDOM, as well as novellas THE SHADOW CATS and THE SHATTERED MOUNTAIN. In fact THE BITTER KINGDOM was my hands-down favorite novel of 2013!

If you've already read her other books--or if you're looking for more historical fantasy, check out Wild West-flavored debut RELIC by Renee Collins or the recently released VENGENACE ROAD by Erin Bowman!

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This book is so gorgeous, I did a Design Analysis Vlog:

I love how much more amazing this book looks in person. A computer screen jpg does NOT do this justice. The foil is so gold and shiny!!!! I also love how it looks like gold is filtering down into the earth. The colors look alive in person and it's hard to stop staring at!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( some kissing )
Language:  PG ( I think it may have had some slang of the time, and some terms laced with innuendo. Honestly, I read this in the spring and I deleted the e-ARC off my nook prematurely, so I don't have access to my notes and tags ^^;;; I don't recall anything too bad, though! )
Violence: PG13 ( Depiction of murder; character deaths; talk about death )
Other:  PG13 ( detailed but non-graphic birthing scene )

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Rae Carson
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books // HarperTeen
Received: For Review

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.