I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Blood and Silver by Vali Benson
Published by Tellwell Talent on April 2, 2020
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Source: the author
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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.
Honestly this feels more like a middle grade story than a YA story for me. I would recommend it more for the middle school students I used to teach than for the high school students I work with as a librarian now. It is true that the main character’s mother is a saloon girl, and it is somewhat talked about what she does. But not in any really specific or detailed way that would make it that inappropriate for middle school age.
It was a unique story, but somewhat predictable. I liked that it took place in Tombstone, a city that mostly is connected with the shootout at the O.K. Corral as well as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday from the movie named after the town. This story didn’t include any of those well known events or people, but definitely gave you a feel for the way the town was at the time of the story.
Another concern I had was with some of the cultural things. China Mary was the name of a character, and while that is a real person, and I know that a lot of what was possibly used for names and such in this book are realistic for that time period, I am afraid that some people would have a problem with that today. I wonder if the author took the information she put about all of that history at the end, and put it in a little section before the story if that might help for people who would have an issue with that stuff.
Overall it was a good story though, a quick read, with a happy ending for our main characters even in the wild wild west of Tombstone, Arizona.
About the Author:
Vali grew up in the Midwest. She now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons and grandchildren.
After graduating from the University of Illinois, Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion of writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine before she decided to try her hand at fiction.
In April of 2020, Vali published her first novel, Blood and Silver. That same month, she was also made a member of the Western Writers of America.
- WINNER – 2021 American Fiction Awards
- 2xWINNER – 2021 San Francisco Book Festival
- WINNER – 2021 New York Book Festival