Two Minute Review: Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson

Monday, October 10, 2016
Title: Like a River Glorious
Author: Rae Carson
Genre: western, magical realism, historical fiction
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #2
Pages: 416
Published: September 2016
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 3/5

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.

This is unfortunately another case of the faint praise award or even second-book-syndrome kicking in. This was... mehh, not bad. It was just okay; I didn't hate it and I didn't love it... but I did keep reading and finish all 400+ pages. Second in a trilogy that blends magical realism with westernish historical fiction, Like a River Glorious mainly suffers from being the bridge book and feels just kind of unnecessary filler before the ending to come. 

The book's plot (Lee vs Evil Uncle Hiram yet again makes up the bulk of the story) moves in fits and spurts. The pacing is all over the place and the story suffers for it -- like Lee's time in Glory vs the extended stay at her uncle's. Some sections are drawn out for chapters and others take place in pages; it's an uneven read. It is a novel that tries to do too much and with too little result. It's obvious the author is trying to be sensitive and aware in her portrayal of both Native Americans and of Chinese immigrants. Like a River Glorious makes pains to try to show other sides of history besides the dominant white influence and narrative but that doesn't mean there aren't problematic elements to how she chooses to show other cultures and people.

Overall, this was not too bad and still compelling enough to keep me interested in the final outcome tbd in the last of the trilogy. I do hope Lee's new adventure in the next book is more evenly paced and with less misrepresentation for Jefferson and others. 

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