By Vali Benson
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Print Length: 142 pages
Release Year: 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.39
Available on Amazon
Special thanks to Val Benson for providing me with a copy of this title for review purposes.
What is a twelve-year-old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only hope 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 colourful 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. (Goodreads)
For me, historical fiction can be a hit or a miss. Not because I don’t like learning about history, but because of the fictionalized part. I find that I just generally prefer history itself to a fictionalized version. Of course, as with most things, there are exceptions to this; and Blood and Silver is one of them.
Blood and Silver is a short poignant read that achieves what it sets out to do. With a realistic depiction of a rural midwestern setting full of well fleshed out characters, the story, while simple, is powerful. We follow a young lady as she struggles to free her mother from a life of addiction and prostitution all the while protecting herself from a similar fate. With a murderous mistress in her way, the young lady takes on the treacherous task with a fierce grace only a young lady raised in this era can afford.
This is a wonderful debut that suffers from a few shortcomings but nothing serious enough that it should stop you from reading it. Actually, this book is one of those rare books where I find myself having to say it suffers from being too short; a lot of the story here could be fleshed out more. Where it is right now, this book reads a bit more like a middle-grade book (if you disregard the events that transpire). It wouldn’t take much to push it into the realm of what many would consider the standard for young adults (length-wise).
Overall, Blood and Silver is a very good historical fiction entry that can be read in one or two seatings. It does a good job and maintains the reader’s interest, but would benefit from being fleshed out a bit more. Regardless, everything that makes a good story is very much present.