Blood and Silver

Young Adult

In 1880, Carissa Beaumont and her mother travel to Tombstone, Arizona, along with her mother’s boss, Miss Lucille. Miss Lucille has a violent streak and several people in her employ or acquaintance have been brutally murdered. At twelve years old, Carissa has made herself useful for Miss Lucille’s “ladies” at the brothel by doing various chores. Meanwhile, Miss Lucille has orchestrated her mother’s addiction to laudanum. If she doesn’t get herself and her mother out soon, she may have no choice but to eventually succumb to life as a prostitute. Thankfully, she makes new friends in Tombstone who are drawn to Carissa, including China Mary, the woman who is really in charge of Tombstone.

Vali Benson has developed a truly unique take on historical Tombstone, Arizona: through the eyes of a child. Carissa is an incredibly relatable character whom the reader can’t help but root for. There is a large array of interesting and colorful characters included who feel genuine as a whole, and true to the period. The attention to real-life historical detail is impeccable. While the story is told almost exclusively from Carissa’s point of view, the point of view switches for a paragraph or two mid-chapter several times throughout the story, sometimes for different characters in the same chapter. As it is not consistently employed all through the book, these moments feel out of place. The conflicts in the story, while interesting, also feel a little too easily resolved.  Nonetheless, Ms. Benson’s characterization and world building make up for any minimal shortcomings, and the pacing is perfect for keeping readers enthralled.

Shailyn Rogers