BOOK REVIEW: Blood and Silver
by Vali Benson
ABOUT THE BOOKS (from Amazon):
What is a twelve year old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only home is a brothel and her only parent is a drug-addicted mother? If she is Carissa Beaumont, she outsmarts the evil madam and figures a way out.
After tricking the madam, Miss Lucille, into summoning a doctor for her mother, Lisette, she discovers that Miss Lucille has been drugging her. She and the kind doctor make a plan to try to save Lisette by dosing her down on the drug.
Doctor Henderson tells Carissa that the only source for the drug is a Chinese immigrant named China Mary, who lives in Hoptown, at the other end of Tombstone. Carissa has no choice but to go to the powerful woman for help. Many say that China Mary is the one who really controls Tombstone.
China Mary admires Carissa’s brave spirit, and uses her influence to get her a job at the new Grand Hotel, which will free Carissa from her many duties at Miss Lucille’s. She will work along with Mary’s twelve year old niece, Mai-Lin. The two girls become fast friends.
Then, disaster strikes, and the two girls must work together to stay alive.
With a host of colorful characters and meticulous attention to period detail, Blood and Silver is a story of the best and worst of human nature, the passion for survival and the beauty of true friendship.
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Vali Benson, the author of Blood and Silver, reached out and asked me to review her book. She sent me a free copy in exchange for my honest review, so here it is…
I enjoyed this story. Living near Leadville, Colorado, I felt like the story could have taken place in my little town in 1880. Except for the storyline of the Chinese woman who ruled the town. I’m not sure how realistic that would have been in the middle of Colorado. I also questioned whether it was realistic in Tombstone, Arizona while I was reading the book, but the author does explain at the end that, “China Mary was a real person and she did run Tombstone from her little store in Hoptown.” It’s like she was speaking directly to me at that point. 😂
Despite some serious storylines in the book, it was mostly pretty light and easy to read. We follow the story of 12-year-old Carissa who lost her father and brother to cholera while pioneering across the country. Her mother has been taken advantage of, forced into prostitution, and has become addicted to drugs. A little heavy, right? But Carissa is determined to save her mother and get the two of them out of their current situation.
Again, I enjoyed the book. I felt a little unmoved by the story in the end and realized why when I sat down to write this review. I came across another review that mentioned the book “feels more like a middle grade story than a YA story.” It probably just wasn’t a good fit for me personally, but I do think it would be a good heroic story for young readers.