Author: Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
Blurb: Lee 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.
Lee 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.
"Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks of my eyes"
Rae Carson's Girl of Fire and Thorn trilogy is one of my favourite fantasy series. I always wind up pointing to it when I am asked about an underrated book. So I had high hopes for Walk on Earth a Stranger and for the most part, this lived up to them. This is actually the first Western novel I have ever read (although I do have a Dad who watches a lot of Westerns) so I don't really have much to judge it against.
When I was reading other reviews of this book the one thing I seemed to take away was that if you played The Oregon Trail as a kid - this is a great book for you. And not to be unoriginal but that is so, so correct. I don't know a whole lot about the gold rush or, if I'm honest, American history in general. But this felt authentic, I could hear Lee's accent when she spoke, I felt genuinely thirsty when they went without water, my heart was pounding for so much of this book because I just did not know who would make it out alive!
Lee was a great character. I loved her determination and her strength and how her character developed over the course of the book. I found that I so often felt what she felt, when she was angry - so was I. And I love that in a book because it means I just care that bit more about what happens to the characters. Jeff was an interesting character and I liked his friendship with Lee but I didn't feel like I connected with him quite as much - however there are two more books to go so plenty of time for his character to develop. There were a whole lot of really good side characters in this book as well although with the exception of a couple they weren't nearly as developed as Lee was. My favourites possibly being Mrs Joyner and her children. Mrs Joyner especially really grew as the book went on and I loved who she was at the end.
There is a bit of a love triangle in this book, although the whole love element is very downplayed in general - which makes sense given you don't have much time for romance when you're in a wagon trail threatened by cholera and lack of food and water and so many other things! I actually really liked that although there is a prospect of love for Lee it wasn't really a focus in this book because it felt more natural.
The villain of the book doesn't make a huge appearance but I definitely felt the threat of him at the beginning and I look forward to him playing a larger role in the future because he is such a realistic, human villain. The kind of person (minus the murdering) that you may have met in your life. The real villain of this book ended up being the conditions on the wagon trail. Even the bad men in the wagon trail were less villains and more dislikable characters. And the thing about nature, or disease being the primary villain is that it's so random - there is no reason behind any of the deaths so you can't predict them or prepare yourself and I really liked that.
Although I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns a little bit more, I did really enjoy Walk on Earth a Stranger and I am definitely excited for the next book in the series. There wasn't a cliff-hanger but I am still really keen to see what happens to Lee and the others soon!