Sunday, November 7, 2021

Review: VEINS OF GOLD by Charlie N. Holmberg


Rating: 2.25/5 stars

This was a very weird book. Even though it’s a historical fantasy romance—which is Charlie Holmberg’s style—this was unlike any of her books I’ve read so far. Granted, she does have 15 books out and this was only my seventh book from her, but it still was vastly different from her other works.

Veins of Gold takes place in Utah during the time of the gold rush. I do not like westerns, and this book is a western and definitely feels like it, so the setting was a little off-putting for me. On top of that, this book has a more historical feel than her other books that I’ve read. I don’t really prefer historical fiction, but somehow Charlie’s books are so light in that element that I don’t mind them at all. But this one had a stronger historical feel than her others, in my opinion. 

This story follows Gentry and her siblings that she cares for after their father left them to go out to the gold rush in California. Gentry struggles to provide for her siblings when one day she stumbles upon a magic fueled by gold. The magic leads her to Winn, a man who can control the magic and almost seems to be made of it himself. Winn lives in a house made out of seagulls and can travel faster than a train and is full of whimsy and kindness. 

Charlie describes this book as if Studio Ghibli wrote a western, and I can definitely see that. Winn reminds me so strongly of Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle. Gentry has the ability to see pure magic in the form of tiny little creatures, and those remind me of the tiny Totoros from My Neighbor Totoro. The cute and whimsical Ghibli elements are there, but somehow it wasn’t enough to make me love this book that was too western for my taste. 

Another aspect I very much disliked was that Gentry’s father’s friend, who is the age of her father, is a potential love interest for Gentry. Nooo thank you. That was really off-putting to me. He’s not really a love interest as Gentry doesn’t care for him in that way, but he still makes his affections for her known and she does consider marrying him for financial stability. I almost quit the book at that part because I was thoroughly disgusted. 

However, I love Charlie Holmberg so I finished it because it was written by her, and I’m glad I did. The book had a nice ending. There were parts of this story that I genuinely loved, but there were also parts that I did not like whatsoever, and that’s what brought down the whole book for me. It was mostly (but not entirely) the western setting though, so if you can get past that then please check this out. But the whole time I couldn’t stop picturing a deserted wasteland covered in dry, crumbling dirt with tumbleweeds rolling past, and it was all so thoroughly unappealing to me that I couldn’t handle it. (Listen, I used to live in Utah and it’s a beautiful place now, but I need more trees and less dirt in my life, hence why I no longer live there.) 

I love Charlie’s books and I will continue to read everything she writes, but Veins of Gold is my least favorite of her works so far. 

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