Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson is the first book in a new series by a talented author.
Leah Westfall finds herself alone in the world and subject to the
devious machinations of a greedy uncle, she does what thousands of
others are doing: she goes west. Gold has been discovered in California,
and the gold fever has struck the general public hard. Disguising
herself as a boy, "Lee" makes her way up the Mississippi to Independence
and finds a wagon train to join. There will be plenty of hardships over
the next months, and not all of Lee's companions will make it to their
destination. For Lee the stakes are high, because she's hiding not one,
but two secrets: not only is she a girl dressed as a boy, but she also
has the magical ability to sense gold hidden in the ground. And the only
person who knows is her uncle -- the man who will stop at nothing to
bring Lee back under his control.
This is a highly enjoyable
story, rich in historical detail and character development. Carson
doesn't pull her punches: readers will get quite attached to some
characters who won't make it to the end of the book. Despite (or because
of?) that, this is a great read, especially for those who have an
interest in historical fiction set in this period. People I'd recommend
it to: fans of this author, people who enjoyed Patricia C. Wrede's
Frontier Magic trilogy, and everyone with a nostalgic fondness for Oregon Trail.
(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)