Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
Published: September 2016
Genre: young adult, historical fiction
Lee Westfall survived the dangerous journey to California. She found a new family in the other outcasts of their wagon train, and Jefferson, her best friend, is beginning to woo her shamelessly. Now they have a real home—one rich in gold, thanks to Lee’s magical ability to sense the precious metal in the world around her.
But Lee’s Uncle Hiram has survived his own journey west. He’s already murdered her parents, and he will do anything to have Lee and her talents under his control. No one is safe. When he kidnaps her, she sees firsthand the depths of his depravity.
Lee’s magic is changing, though. It is growing. The gold no longer simply sings to her—it listens. It obeys her call. Will that alone be enough to destroy her uncle?
Lee, Jefferson, and their wagon train settle down in Glory, California, staking their claim in this territory and protecting their land from other squatters and hell-raisers. The group knows of her ability to sense gold, and they do their best to hide their good fortune from outsiders. But Uncle Hiram hears of Lee’s rising fortune, and will stop at nothing to take her hostage and make her work for his mine. Her magic is growing into something more, and Lee attempts to find a way to save herself and the workers, and destroy Hiram and his mine with her new abilities.
There may be spoilers contained in this review if you have not read the first in this trilogy, Walk on Earth a Stranger.
I finally finished the second book in the Good Seer trilogy. It took a while to get through, partly because everything felt hunky-dory perfect in the first third, and partly because it was difficult to see all the hardship, racism, sexism, cruelty, and misogyny. But I’m still interested and invested in this historical Gold Rush fantasy, and I’m looking forward to Into the Bright Unknown in a few months! (Plus, come on, look at these covers.)
The first third of the novel, the wagon train decides to settle together on a large plot of land they divvy up among themselves. It’s neat to see how they interact with one another, creating their own miniature town with each person pulling their part of the work. It’s not all perfect — weather, attacks, accidents all happen — but the decisions they made together was almost too quick and conveniently agreed upon. No one seemed to have qualms with anything. However, I did like that they took Lee’s secret in stride, and really rally around her when Hiram’s thugs show up and create mayhem.
The mine is a totally different story. This shed light on another rarely touched upon aspect of American history. I wanted to look away, but I knew I couldn’t. It’s important. We have to know how people were wrongly treated. Indians, blacks, Chinese laborers, everything they went through is true and very cruel. But it happened. I don’t know how Lee was able to hold back her anger — I was bursting with hatred (and a lot of ick-factor chills from Hiram — ughhhh). Lee handled it all so well, and the heist with the secret group in the miners was incredibly epic.
There is still a bit of a romance plot in here, and still quite minor. But even still, the love between Lee and Jefferson felt natural, and I really like how they came to their decision at the end of this book. It felt perfect and authentic for them, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes in the next book.
I’m expecting some more on the romance line, an interesting turn of events with California becoming a state, something happening with Hiram thwarting plans in very dangerous ways, fantastic magical growth and skill for Lee, and positive directions for each member of the wagon train. Let’s see what’s in store in a couple months…
This qualifies as book 10 of 12 in the Rock My TBR challenge.