Walk on Earth a Stranger

Walk on Earth a Stranger

Walk on Earth a Stranger

by Rae Carson

Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Historical Fiction
Published: September 22nd 2015
by Greenwillow




Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friendβ€”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. 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 Californiaβ€”where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.


Walk on Earth a Stranger is an entertaining and action-packed story, but I can’t say it brings anything especially unique or new to the collection of YA westerns already published.

When Lee Westfall’s parents are murdered, she is forced to disguise herself as a boy and travel from her small Alabaman hometown all the way to California – where rumors of gold have sprouted. Except Lee has a secret: she has the power to sense gold, and, with the Gold Rush, it’s a power people would kill for.

Lee is a character you can’t help but sympathize and root for. She is thrown into such a difficult situation, and yet she still manages to stay strong and hope for the best.

I’m always wary of stories that rely strongly on both historical fiction and fantasy elements. They cause the story to turn into something that’s a bit unbelievable and exaggerated. Yet, with Walk on Earth a Stranger, Rae Carson manages to combine the historical fiction and fantasy elements of the story flawlessly. The way she utilizes and combines both genres adds to the impact of the story, and it is done in a way that makes sense.

As someone who lives in California, all throughout history class I’ve learned about the Gold Rush and how important it was. This being said, I was curious, and a bit anxious, to see how Carson would incorporate these historical details into the story, but she did so flawlessly. She captures the dangerous nature of the trip and the obstacles that come with it in a way that glued your eyes to the pages. Bandits, burgles, chorea…nothing came easy in this era, and Carson doesn’t let us forget that.

Walk on Earth a Stranger might not have brought anything especially new to the glowing collection of YA westerns, but it was an entertaining and gripping read regardless. Under a Painted Sky fans are going to love this.


33 thoughts on “Walk on Earth a Stranger

  1. I have both this and Under a Painted Sky! I haven’t read neither of them, though, and I wish to read a YA western. Which do you recommend I read first? Also, I can’t wait to meet Lee! The Gold Rush is an interesting time to set a book. Sadly, mu knowledge about it is…umm, limited, haha. Great review!

  2. My copy of this one is currently in a stack of books on my floor, but I still haven’t read it. (I haven’t really read anything lately, thanks to NaNoWriMo….) Glad you enjoyed it–it sounds amazing!

    Awesome review, Zoe! <3

    1. Ahh! How’s NaNo going Ellie?!? I’m sure you’re doing amazing. ♥ And definitely give this a try when everything settles down.

  3. I actually missed this year’s YA Western hype altogether, but I am still interested in this one and Vengeance Road. Thanks for the detailed review, sounds like it’s good but not fantastic? Which is mildly disappointing given the potential of the premise D:

    1. I’m not much of a fantasy person, so it was probably more of a “it’s-me-not-you” thing. I hope you end up loving it Aentee!

  4. AHHH I’M GLAD YOU LIKED IT. Even if it didn’t blow you away. XD Hopefully I will still utterly adore it because, omg, Rae Carson. I loooooved The Girl of Fire and Thorns SO SO MUCH. I actually went back and gave it 5-stars after an initial 4-star rating. haha. Anyway, this is high on my TBR!! I’m devouring Exiled Queen next but then OMG THIS ONE. And that cover is just my favourite thing.

  5. Oh wow, ever since I first heard of this I apparently hadn’t realised what its actual title was? I thought it was Walk on Earth Stranger or something or other, but not what it actually *is*. Romi’s endless bookish fails, apparently. I really win all the awards for this kind of thing.
    I am sorry to hear this wasn’t as fantastic as you’d been hoping. When I read books that are fiction (say, contemporary) and then they have unexpected/unexplained magical realism, it can be so difficult. It tends to annoy me a lot, because I can coprehend a sci-fi world, a fantasy world, a contemporary world, but when they mix it tends to just not work for me so well. I’m surprised it’s an issue for me, but it does seem to be.
    I’m pretty keen to read Vengeance Road, although this one isn’t really striking my interest at the moment.
    Lovely review, as always. xx

    1. EXACTLY. It’s so hard to read magical realism, because these random fantasy elements pop up and it just never seems to make complete sense, you know? I’m curious to see what you’d think of this though. πŸ™‚

  6. It’s surprising to me that YA Westerns seems to be increasing, but I love it. I’m fond of the genre. The cover of this and title are so eye-catching too. This sounds only so-so though, so I’m probably going to wait on it for awhile. Vengeance Road sounds much more interesting to me. πŸ™‚

  7. I LOVED this book. I am also a rabid fan of anything Oregon Trail-esque, so it worked extra for me πŸ˜‰ I can see some people being a bit bored by the actual travel part, but I adored it. Lee is just awesome, and I am so excited to see where Rae takes this story next! Glad you liked it too πŸ˜€

  8. That cover is just GORGEOUS!! But I’ll be honest, the cover does not scream historical fiction/western set in California during the gold rush at all. I thought it was just pure fantasy haha.

    I have read Rae Carson’s other works yet, but I’ve heard they’re pretty amazing! Not having grown up in the US, I’m not very familiar with the gold rush. Glad to hear that Carson has written it well πŸ˜€ Lovely review Zoe xx

  9. I’ve always wanted to read Under a Painted Sky, but I never got there so maybe I’ll skip that one and go straight to this one… I always talk about how much I love historical fiction, but then I hardly ever read any of it?! I reaaally need to change that.

  10. Ooooh, this looks so intriguing. I didn’t particularly like Carson’s previous trilogy, the one about that stone and thorns or something, but this sounds like it has a very unique ring to it. Its great that the incorporation of the real life facts was done so well in the book; I might actually just pick this one up, because, of course, your review is spectacular πŸ˜›

    1. I didn’t really like her first trilogy either Maddy, but this is amazing. I’m curious to see what you think of it if you decide to try it.

  11. I haven’t read this book yet, but I’ve seen it everywhere and many people raved about it! Sorry you didn’t really enjoyed it though. I love reading historical fiction, because every author could twist the historical events according to their imagination! Lovely review<3

  12. I wanted a teensy bit more from the fantasy parts of the story, but I think book 2 will probably explore that more. I’m with you that it doesn’t really add anything unique to the YA western trend, but there’s just something about the whole trend that’s so entertaining. I’m curious to see how things progress in the next book!
    Lovely review, Zoe!

  13. This was actually the first YA Western novel that I have read, and I enjoyed it immensely! Although the plot was slow at some times, I love how accurate it was with actual history. (Really brings back memories of my history classes hehe.) I’m definitely going to check out Under the Painted Sky for more Western fun! Thanks for the awesome review Zoe. πŸ™‚

  14. Hmm, I’ve heard mostly stellar reviews for this so I’m sorry you weren’t overly impressed πŸ™ I actually don’t know much about the gold rush. I live in California now, but I grew up in Texas so of course we learned more about Texas history and not the gold rush haha. I hope to get around to reading this one day, we’ll see if I like it πŸ™‚

  15. See, I KNEW I liked Rae Carson for a reason! Cross-dressing characters. My ultimate kryptonite. (Well, it might be sexy rogue characters, to be quite honest. Speaking of, have you noticed there’s a dearth of female rogue characters? Because I have just noticed this and need it remedied. Immediately. So if you know of any, point me in the right direction! There’s H.G. from Warehouse 13, but otherwise I got nothing, particularly in books.) Sorry. Sidetracked. What was I talking about? Right, I need to read this book. Stat.

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