Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Review: Like a River Glorious

Like a River Glorious (The Gold Seer Trilogy #2)
By: Rae Carson
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Release date: 9/27/16
Genre: YA historical/paranormal
432 pages
Buy it at Amazon, IndieBound, Book Depository, or Barnes & Noble
Source: galley kindly provided by publisher

Our review of Book 1 can be found here

I have loved every one of Rae Carson's books, and she's given me another to sing praises to in Like a River Glorious. 

YA trilogies often suffer a little in the second book; the discovery process of book 1 is done, the author works hard to set up the big finale, and the second book sometimes feels like little more than a bridge between the two. This is not one of those books.  Like a River Glorious feels like another story with the same characters and setting, rather than a cliffhanger continuation of one three-book storyline. It has a beautifully-structured beginning, middle, and ending of its own apart from the series, but also acts as an important part of the larger story arc.

Carson's use of dialogue to define characters is absolutely fantastic. Word choice gives the reader a great feel for the time period, and when paired with descriptions of facial expression or body language, tells the reader a lot about that character's motivation and trustworthiness. One of my favorite details about this series is that Leah values her independence, and she struggles with how to maintain it in a culture where women are generally thought of as the property of their male relatives. We learn a lot about Leah in this volume, as well as the reality of what it was like to be female in this era, through her dialogue with others. I would encourage students to read this book just to explore those ideas; luckily, they will also get an entertaining story.
I adore that this isn't just another version of whatever topic is currently hot in YA lit; I haven't seen another series in ages that's set in the early American West. I think it's absolutely perfect for this age, since most kids in the USA spend at least a year in school studying early American history, with a good chunk of time devoted to westward expansion. This series presents a great opportunity for teachers to do cross-curricular projects. For students who are reading it for pleasure, it brings to life what they are likely studying in school, which is a delightful bonus.

Everyone should be reading this series. Boys, girls, kids, adults, readers and non-readers. And Hollywood, don't you dare consider this one for a movie. You would mess it up, and it's perfect just as it is.


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.

The second epic historical fantasy in the Gold Seer trilogy by Rae Carson, the acclaimed author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

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