Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 448 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Gold Seer Trilogy
Source: eGalley through NetGalley.com
Rating: 5/5 stars
I got a copy of this book through NetGalley to review. This is the first book in the Gold Seer trilogy by Carson. Previous to this book I had read Carson’s Fire and Thorns series which I really loved. This was an excellent start to a new series and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Leah (aka Lee) Westfall can sense gold. It’s a secret that only her and her family know. Her best friend Jefferson lives with a very violent father and, when it is announced that gold has been found in California, Jefferson decides he will journey to California to find his fortune out there. He asks Lee to join him, but she refuses because she loves her family and wants to stay and help them out. Then Lee’s family is brutally murdered by a man who wants Lee’s powers for his own. So Lee disguises herself as a boy and starts the long journey to Independence, Missouri in hopes of meeting Jefferson there before he continues on to California.
This book was an excellent western type of adventure story with a twist. At times it reads like a novel version of the Oregon Trail game I used to play on the computer in elementary school. Life is hard on the journey west as Lee and the folks she travels with battle nature, disease, each other and the natives.
There are a couple things that really make this story grab the reader. Lee having this power to sense gold during the Gold Rush is amazing and intriguing; it makes her a hot commodity and is an ability that controls her as much as she controls it. The story also takes place in a time where women don’t have a lot of rights; so masquerading as a boy gives Lee a lot of freedom. However Lee is torn between having to lie about being a boy and the freedom it gives her.
I also really loved reading about the friendships Lee makes and the hardships she encounters on her journey west. They are things we’ve all heard about but Carson writes about them in a way that makes them feel very real and urgent. I absolutely loved their journey across what we would call Yellowstone today; having recently visited Yellowstone I often wondered what early travelers would think about it and Carson does an excellent job portraying this. I loved the hope throughout this story; every one of these characters is absolutely convinced that California holds their salvation and future life.
Additionally I really enjoyed the friendship between Lee and Jefferson; they have both faced ridicule by society but they have always had each other. They are loyal and steadfast friends and wonderful to read about. As you might imagine in a young adult book, they are both at the age right now where that friendship has potential to turn into something more.
The story was beautifully written with a lot of adventure and some humor. It wa incredibly engaging and hard to put down. I constantly found myself staying up late to read this and having trouble stopping; it was just such an engrossing story.
Overall I absolutely loved this book. It was engaging, full of wonderful adventure and entertaining and heartfelt characters. This story is a wonderful blend of western adventure with some magic. I would definitely recommend to those who are interested in reading a YA book with a western feel to it and lots of adventure and survival. The story reminds me a bit of Patricia Wrede’s Frontier Magic series, although I enjoyed this book more than that series. However if you are interested in reading another American Western themed YA novel with magic that is a good series too.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge