Review: Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #3

into the bright unknown -rae carsonThe stunning conclusion to Rae Carson’s New York Times–bestselling Gold Seer trilogy, which Publishers Weekly in a starred review called “Simply terrific.” A historical fantasy brimming with magic, romance, and adventure—perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Sarah Maas, and Westworld.

Leah Westfall, her fiancé Jefferson, and her friends have become rich in the California Territory, thanks to Lee’s magical ability to sense precious gold. But their fortune has made them a target, and when a dangerous billionaire sets out to destroy them, Lee and her friends decide they’ve had enough—they will fight back with all their power and talents. Lee’s magic is continuing to strengthen and grow, but someone is on to her—someone who might have a bit of magic herself. The stakes are higher than ever as Lee and her friends hatch a daring scheme that could alter the California landscape forever. With a distinctive young heroine and a unique interpretation of American history, Into the Bright Unknown strikes a rich vein of romance, magic, and adventure, bringing the Gold Seer Trilogy to its epic conclusion. Includes a map and an author’s note.


3 Drink Me Potions


Into the Bright Unknown plays well as a wrap-up to Rae Carson’s latest trilogy but ultimately falls a bit flat in amping up suspense for an explosive finish.

What exactly do I mean by that? Well, with the ultimate enemy as I saw it, that being Lee’s Uncle Hiram, being dealt with at the end of the last book, there just wasn’t a whole lot left that threatened their existence now that everyone’s arrived in California. The first book had the action and pacing that came from the hard journey across the country. The second book dealt with the ramifications of coming to this supposedly wondrous land and Lee’s uncle catching up to her like a big dark storm cloud.

What’s left for this book, you may ask? Not too much, really.

The “enemy” is the man Lee made a deal with earlier who may or may not be altogether good. Turns out, he’s not. Yet their whole demise and plan to destroying their last enemy in the way of their happiness was the only thing in this book. It was too simple of a plot. I suppose there’s beauty in simplicity at times, but I was expecting more from a finale. Maybe too much of the action occurred in book 2 so now there really wasn’t much more to add to everyone’s problems to continue the story.

Alas, if suspense and action couldn’t sustain my expectations, maybe a dose of romance could? Yet the beauty in the tension and sometimes misunderstandings between Lee and her best friend Jefferson just wasn’t really there anymore now that things have settled between them. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the fact that they finally are together and that they’re happy, but it’s like a bit of their chemistry was snuffed out in the process! Unlike Rae’s other trilogy with plenty of romance that was sustained even when the love interests got together, this was almost the exactly opposite. Maybe it’s the time setting. People weren’t as expressive of love before marriage as they are now? Yet I can’t help but think even historical fictions do fairly well in the romance section while keeping it fairly accurate.

Aside from these things, Into the Bright Unknown WAS a good ending overall. Things get wrapped up in a nice bow for everyone. Dreams that were half-formed in the beginning are coming to fruition, and even those we weren’t aware of initially are coming true. I do like myself some happy endings and an optimistic look towards the future. I do also admire the amount of effort it takes to research historical fictions accurately for the time period it’s set in. Rae has done an amazing job with this and I do feel like I’m there in the 1850s with these characters, excited about the prospect of gold and infuriated by the limited rights of the indigenous peoples, Chinese and African Americans.

Overall, it wasn’t all that I expected it to be, but it at least delivered a decent ending for a trilogy ensconced with characters that have captured my heart.

Overall Recommendation:
Things did not go all as I expected with Into the Bright Unknown. While still characteristically and historically accurate as is Rae Carson’s style, I felt it lacked in plot development. Where there are normally many layers to her previous plotlines, this lacked substance and came across as way too simple. Even the romantic aspects weren’t too satisfying now that the tensions are gone between Lee and Jefferson. I love Rae’s work overall, and this finale delivered a happy ending for the characters I’ve come to enjoy, albeit a light one.

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