Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy) – Rae Carson

walk on earth a strangerLee 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.

Rating: 4/5

This was an absolutely top-notch adventure story.

The prose was such that I could feel the searing heat of the desert, the chapped lips, parched throats, wind-toughened skin – the sheer grit of the journey of the journey was tangible. The author is certainly adept at transporting her readers into the world of exhausting treks across the USA.

I really admired our MC, Lee, and her struggles between the way she is treated as a women, and the contrast to when she is disguised as a man. She points out the complete and utter hypocrisy, and her frustration, as well as those of other women, subject to the whims of men, is palpable.

Indeed, this book was unabashedly feminist, which was a big part of why I loved it. Lee doesn’t give up her femininity entirely, she ends up compartmentalising it for her own sanity, but is perfectly content to shoot things while wearing a skirt and riding a horse.

One aspect of the novel that really stood out for me was the commentary on how pregnancy is an utter gamble for a woman of that time – with maternal death rates so high, you were literally risking your life every time you slept with a man. The stark reality of that was horrifying, and really brought home here.

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about the practicalities overlooked in YA dystopias and fantasies – and now I must eat my words, because the author totally addressed some of them here – the inconveniences of having to deal with periods while on some epic trek with barely any privacy, drinking and using cooking water from the same source all the rubbish goes into, the sicknesses that come with close contact and poor hygiene, etc.

Finally, I really liked the very slow development of the romance – it’s simmering under the surface, but there – but our characters have way too much to deal with to fall into some relationship right away. They work together well, and respect each other, and try to communicate even if they’re not so great at it – that’s totally a solid base for a healthy relationship in my book!

It was also great to see the development of some of the side characters – while we didn’t get as much background on some of them as I would have liked, it was lovely to see the family that Lee makes for herself, as well as the redemption of some less-wonderful specimens of humanity.

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

20 thoughts on “Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy) – Rae Carson

  1. Hey, it’s great when an author does prove you wrong :) It doesn’t happen very often though… I love Rae Carson’s writing, and I admit I skimmed a little your review, because I can’t wait to get my hands on this one myself! Have a great week :)


  2. Yes! I agree with you on everything, and especially the quality of Rae’s prose! Everything is just so vivid, perfectly clear. You can feel the setting with all your senses. And I love how she didn’t shy away from practicalities. Overall, it was such a promising beginning.


    1. Definitely! I’m glad we’ve got two more books to look forward to. Really impressed with the author’s prose, I’ll definitely be checking out her previous trilogy.


  3. I feel like so many people were on the fence about this book. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m really looking forward to it myself!


  4. I am SO in for a feminist book. That character sounds amazing. I’m really excited to finally get my hands in a copy of this because not only do I want to meet Lee, but I am very intrigued by the concept behind the books.


    1. I was mentally fist-pumping whenever Lee put the menfolk in their place. The period of history in which the book is set is also really interesting!


  5. This book sounds really fantastic, I’ve been hearing such great things about the plot and characters. Such a unique premise as well, I am so excited to check it out at some point, once I conquer my current to read pile.


    1. Haha, the endless TBR pile will never be conquered! We’ll always find more books to add – but this is a worthy addition, I promise!


  6. I’ve been on the fence about this one — while I love all the things you mentioned about Carson’s writing (the feminist themes, her talent at writing quest and adventure sequences) I never fully fell in love with her last series for reasons that still escape me. But you’ve really tempted me to try this!
    Jen @ YA Romantics


    1. I have yet to try her previous series – I remember reading comments by a reviewer that said this one is better than her previous series, so maybe give it a go?


  7. Still have not read a single book by this author. From a non-fantasy reader standpoint, I like that the writing is so visceral that you can almost feel and taste the story unfolding before you. Mark of a great writer!


    1. She doesn’t have that many books out – jus t this one, and a previous fantasy trilogy! But I’m definitely impressed with her prose.


  8. Oh, my goodness, you are so right with your observations here. Even though this book was slow in terms of pacing, it was still such an enjoyable read because of the writing and the atmosphere (YES YOU REALLY COULD FEEL THE SCORCHING HOT DESERT AND ALL THE PAINS THESE PEOPLE WENT THROUGH FROM SO MANY ELEMENTS JUST TO REACH THEIR GOLDEN DREAM). I’m just not a fan of the romance though D: I thought the love interest was a bit too bland and too indifferent for me??? other than that, though, TOP-NOTCH!!!

    Faye at The Social Potato


    1. Now that you’ve pointed it out, I would have preferred it if the love interest was a bit more fleshed out! Hopefully we’ll get more insight into his character in the second book.


  9. You basically had me at “practicalities.” I mean, HECK YES, FINALLY! Someone understands the struggles of our every day lives. And wow, the writing definitely sounds EXQUISITE. I wasn’t planning on reading this anytime soon, but I’m definitely bumping it up my TBR!


    1. Haha, we all know how I feel about addressing the practicalities! But yeah, I was pleasantly surprised. I think the author did a sterling job!


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