Like a River Glorious by Rae CarsonBook: Like a River Glorious
Author: Rae Carson
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Publisher: Greenwillow
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Genre:  YA Fantasy

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Synopsis:

After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram.

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.

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My rating: 4 stars

Like a River Glorious is the second book in The Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson. Read my review of the first book, Walk On Earth a Stranger.

Rae Carson’s use of language and setting really do make you feel like you’re in the 1840s.

I have a weird attraction to westerns. Perhaps this is because I grew up reading books like Little House on the Prairie and Christie. I love reading about the era of the gold-rush and settlers seeking new life in the untamed prairies. I find the combination of nineteenth century clothing and customs with the wildness of the west an intriguing oddity. Women were expected to be ladies, as they were in the cities in the east. I love parts of this. The gowns and button boots, the hats and parasols. It’s elegant and the chivalry of men opening doors for women and stepping off the wooden sidewalks into the mud to allow women to pass make me smile. And yet, the hardships and way of life of many of the west made these outfits and the delicate lady ideals impossible.

Like a River Glorious plays on this oddity, with Lee and the other women in her company trying to find balance between the traditionally feminine and masculine, while making their settlement home. The story picks up right after the first book and continues on the same theme as the first – Lee trying to stay out of her evil Uncle Hiram’s clutches.

An ugly part of North American history.

Although the treatment of persons of colour is not ideal, it is at least partially due to the setting of the story. Rae Carson’s use of language and setting really do make you feel like you’re in the 1840s. However, there are a few white-saviour type moments that are hard to swallow. Lee’s group of settlers are seen as the good settlers and Hiram’s crew are the bad settlers. It was an ugly part of North American history, and to ignore the mistreatment of persons of colour, including Native Americans, black people, and Chinese immigrants, would be awful, it is equally awful to see how they were treated. It is also equally uncomfortable to read about a white person being the one to save these people from the mistreatment of another white person. All in all, it’s difficult subject matter and Carson does an adequate job of trying to represent both sides – not sugar coat things but also provide some hope that despite displacing the First Nations people, many white settlers did not want to injure others but were only trying to find better lives for themselves and their families.

Carson’s ability to weave tiny bits of magic into a historical novel always makes me smile.

Despite these uncomfortable moments, I enjoyed the story. It had a waving pacing, faster then slower then faster again. I was surprised a few times, and moved to tears at least twice. Carson’s ability to weave tiny bits of magic into a historical novel always makes me smile. I’m intrigued to see where she brings this story in the final volume next year.

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