I am not quite sure why this was marketed as a fantasy- because in my opinion it isn't.
Well, it does have some fantasy aspects.. but on the large, I would call this a historical novel. And therein lies my biggest issue. There is no world building. If this is a fantasy- then the world building is extremely bad. Because the only bit of world building that has been done: There are some people with witchy powers. Full Stop. That's it. No other fantasy or paranormal aspect at all. Ok maybe because there is some paranormal bits- we could call it a paranormal historical? Even that is kind of a big stretch at the moment at least, maybe Carson will add more paranormal bit in the next installmen? Who knows, but for me this was a huge let down.
Now. Let's look at the rest of this novel.
The genre is different from what I usually read. This is a rather realistic historical western- based on the gold rush to California. And if you look at it that way... it's rather a different experience. To be honest I am not that well versed on that part of the history. But as far as I can tell Carson did a smashing job at it. The difficulties and dangers that people faced, the euphoria , the drive of the gold rush. It's brilliantly described and conveyed.
Carson's description, her writing style are beautiful. This a really well written novel. Clearly well researched. I love the landscapes Carson painted with her words. But mostly I loved her character building. It's definitely my favorite part of Walk on Earth a Stranger. While everything is told from Lee POV, so the view of a young girl, who travels by herself west, each character has real depth. Over and over we get to see other sides to each of the support cast. Lee changes hugely, her fears and hopes were pivotal to me. I totally got where she was coming from. Her upbringing being unique for it's time, the mysteries around her parents past and the friendships she forms are part of what makes her feel like a real historical character. I feel like I got a glimpse of one of the tracks west. A slice of those exciting and scary dangerous times thanks to the exceptional character building.
Because while Lee is in constant movement- and somehow quite a bit happens. This is totally character driven. It's the lives and story of the characters that build the story.
Looking at the plot. I was left with a gazillion questions. As I said, Lee is in constant movement. There is a hint a romance, but not much happens in that department. But if I would have to sum the plot up.. in one sentence: This is the story about Lee's track, who through bad and unexpected circumstances, ends up joining the gold rush to California, on her own and in disguise. I found this rather slow paced. I kinda expected more adventure. But after I got over my initial expectations- I enjoyed the slow but beautiful way this was written, reveled in the brilliant way Carson conveyed an interesting part of history through her ability to bring the human aspects of the time across.
While I am totally unimpressed with the worldbuilding. I liked that this is something different, a completely different setting than what I usually read. So at this point I am planning on reading the next installment.
Walk on Earth a Stranger is a beautiful and interesting coming of age story, set in an intriguing time with a splash of paranormal.