Skip to Content

Book Review: Blood and Silver by Vali Benson

Blood and Silver by Vali Benson

What is a twelve year old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only home 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 colorful 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.

Blood and Silver Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was compensated with a small amount for my time and effort in reading the book and writing this review. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and are based on my honest personal experience reading the book. Nor did the publisher in any way shape or form ever pressure me to give a positive review.

In the silver boom town of Tombstone, 1880, twelve-year-old Carissa Beaumont faces a daunting reality—her home is a brothel, and her drug-addicted mother, Lisette, is its captive. To help herself with her current predicament, Carissa seeks aid from a kind doctor to save her mother. Unveiling a sinister plot of drugging orchestrated by Miss Lucille, Carissa embarks on a perilous journey to Hoptown, seeking China Mary’s help.

Impressed by her barvey, China Mary helps her land a position at the Grand Hotel allowing her to befriend Mai-Lin, Mary’s niece. But then something goes wrong, and the two girls have to work together to make their way across Tombstone’s perilous waters. In the heart of 1880s Arizona, Blood and Silver offers a thrilling story for fans of character development, historical fiction, and female-centred themes.

In this book, we delve into themes of love, loyalty, and fortitude amidst a collapsing society. Set in the 1880s, this historical fiction explores mature subjects, such as prostitution despite being a YA book. For those who dislike “innocent” characters who border on naivety, Carissa, the main character, could be a little annoying. Even yet, I think highly of her as a character because of her genuineness and good intentions. I don’t think she’s unlikable, even though she might not appeal to everyone; that being said, I realize some readers might find her attitude irritating.

Furthermore, I will argue that by initially portraying her as more naive, the novel allows for more significant payoffs in Carissa’s character development later on. This choice creates ample room for a more pronounced contrast, enhancing the impact of her growth throughout the book. I thought the plot got better as the book went on, maybe because of the discernible changes she went through in her character. Essentially, it appeared that the plot’s excellence was closely linked to Carissa’s personal growth.

My biggest concern with the book wasn’t that its writing or dialogue was lacking in any sense. It was fine and there were no glaring issues. Rather, it just struggled to keep my attention. I found myself consistently grappling with boredom, making it a challenge to stay engaged and motivated to continue reading. This critique is somewhat elusive for me to pinpoint because there aren’t glaring issues in the quality or the characters. It’s more about the book’s inability to sustain my interest, making the reading experience feel like a bit of a drag.

But one thing about the novel that I really liked was how much it stressed friendship. It was a very skillfully done portrayal, with a kindness that came through in the story. One thing that I found most interesting was how the concept of friendship enhanced the examination of relationships and character dynamics. It improved the plot overall by giving character interactions more subtle depth and acting as a major catalyst for the actions of the characters. This theme element’s execution was expertly done, and it greatly enhanced the book’s overall appeal.

I also appreciate how Carissa’s background and circumstances have been purposefully (or inadvertently) portrayed; it’s a powerful illustration of the terrible reality of vicious cycles, especially in more dangerous and exploitative industries like prostitution work. The narrative did a great job of showing this type of negative cycle, illuminating how these situations can systematically trap people and offering a viewpoint on the difficulties experienced by those entangled in them.

Even if my primary criticism of this book is that it didn’t hold my attention, I still think it’s worthwhile to suggest to others. It’s crucial to remember that the book doesn’t have any obvious flaws; rather, readers’ personal preferences tend to determine how appealing it is. Even while I didn’t find it particularly entertaining, I recognize that everyone’s reading tastes are different, and other people might find it more interesting.

If you liked this review and want to see other book reviews like this one, check out my book reviews collection!

Support the Author on Amazon!

About the Author of Blood and Silver

Vali grew up in the Midwest. She now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons and grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion of writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine before she decided to try her hand at fiction.

In April of 2020, Vali published her first novel, Blood and Silver. That same month, she was also made a member of the Western Writers of America.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.