Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Posted January 25, 2021 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

Into the Bright Unknown

Into the Bright Unknown

by Rae Carson

Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #3
Publisher: Greenwillow Books on October 10, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magic, Western
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Representation: Asian, BIPOC, Black, Gay, LGBTQIAP+, Native
Content Warnings: Blood, Death, Grief, Hate Crime, Miscarriage, Racism, Sexism, Slavery

Rating: ★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Leah is poised to have everything she ever dreamed of on the long, dangerous journey to California’s gold fields—wealth, love, the truest friends, and a home. Thanks to her magical ability to sense precious gold, Leah, her fiancé Jefferson, and her friends have claimed rich land in California Territory. But their fortune makes them a target, and when a dangerous billionaire sets out to destroy them, Leah and her friends must fight back with all of their power and talents.

Leah’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 California’s history forever.


The last book in the Gold Seer Trilogy and it is a sad goodbye.

As a whole, I have loved this series.  I love the characters, the magic, and the way Rae Carson writes her historical fiction.  I really loved – and I cannot emphasize this enough – the way Leah is constantly challenged to understand her privilege and make the world a better place for everyone.  I have never, never read fantasy or historical fiction that so bluntly addresses inherent racism and urges action.  I really appreciated it, and it makes me appreciate Carson that much more.

Outside of the activism and the fact that I have grown to love these characters and would just like more books about the residents of Glory… Into the Bright Unknown is not very impressive.  The elements that I liked from previous books were all there, but this is the last book in the trilogy and I really expected more action.  At the least, I thought there would be a climatic ending.  But there was not.  Into the Bright Unknown feels like book-three-out-of-four, where we were still being introduced to new elements.  The big bad, although concerning, played all his cards early in the novel and the action never rose from there.

And don’t get me wrong.  I still enjoyed it.  I still loved it.  My personal enjoyment rating is still 5/5 stars.  But I can’t overlook the fact that it was an unsatisfying end.  The plot meandered, and while there were lives and the town at stake in words… it never felt like those things were at stake in feeling.  The sense of urgency was missing, and while Hardwick definitely had the outline to be a formidable villain (the conversation about a corrupt-to-wealthy-and-successful businessman cashing it all in for a political career so he could make laws that suit him rang painfully familiar)… his threat felt detached from the gang.  Also worth mentioning – this was a heist plot and it was just… slow.

The characters are still good.  I appreciated Jim’s return, as well as a little more development in Becky’s character (though she’s still has opportunities for more growth).  I actually wanted to see a little more of the side plot romance than just at the tail ends of the book.  In many ways, Like a River Glorious tied up loose ends, so all we got in Into the Bright Unknown were new loose ends that didn’t really get resolved because this was the last book.  There were moments that I really enjoyed, like Leah trying to get out of wedding planning and extravagance.  Or the subtle gay relationship that has been slowing blooming in the background since book one.  I enjoyed the experience of Into the Bright Unknown, despite its flaws.

If you, like me, were a big fan of Walk on Earth a Stranger and Like a River Glorious, then I think you’ll enjoy Into the Bright Unknown.  Not because it’s a smashing ending, but just because it’s an extension to the story and you get to spend a little more time in this world and with these characters.  But, objectively, the story really seems to end neatly in Like a River Glorious and this third book could be skipped without the reader really missing out on anything.  I liked it, I’d still say read it because I love Rae Carson’s work, but it’s not strictly necessary.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★ 1/2
Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★★★
Writing: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Narrator: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★

4 Star Rating


In Into the Bright Unknown, Leah and Becky are turned away because as women in this time period they didn’t have the right to property.  Has sexism ever caused something to be stolen from you?  I’ve been pretty lucky in that I personally haven’t had to fight for jobs or ownership of things because of my gender, but I am pretty well aware of the wage gap.  What about you?  If you’re comfortable, share your own struggles and how you overcame them in the comments!

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