Friday, July 17, 2020

City of Gold

Hobbs, Will. City of Gold
July 21st 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Owen, Till and their mother have moved to Colorado for a fresh start after the death of the father in the early 1900s. They have the land for a farm near Durango and even have a pair of mules, Hercules and Peaches. When Owen hears something in the middle of the night, he goes to investigate and finds that the animals have been taken by a rustler. Since the family will not be able to go forward with their plans without the mules, he takes off after them. He manages to locate them, but is unwilling and unable to force the thief, Harry Logan (aka Kid Curry) to give them back. The sheriff thinks that the man will alter the brand on the animals and try to sell them to the mine in Telluride, so Owen takes off in pursuit. He is well prepared with food and equipment, but fails to bring the papers for the animals with him. Undaunted, he managed to make it to the mine and even finds Hercules and helps him move a piece of mining equipment, but is unable to retrieve him. He continues on his search, coming across friends of his uncle Frank, the man who gave the family the farm. Along the way, he comes across Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, crooked Marshall Jim Clark, and travels around a lot of interesting locations in Colorado. Will he be able to finally locate the mules and get them back home so that the family farm can prosper?
Strengths: This is an interesting time period little covered in middle grade literature. The historical figures and details were well researched, and the notes at the end were fascinating. It's tough to remember that the west was still not densely settled in the early 1900s, but Larson's Hattie Big Sky (set in 1917) is about the only other book I've read on this topic. Owen's assiduousness in hunting down the thieves is admirable, if dangerous, and the cast of characters he encounters are interesting. There's even an epilogue about what become of him and his brother Till.
Weaknesses: For all the historical detail and adventure, this didn't have the visceral pull of something like this author's Leaving Protection( 2004) or Never Say Die (2013).
What I really think: This author's modern adventures circulate very well in my library, but his historical books like Jason's Gold (2000)  and Ghost Canoe (1997) don't. Will purchase if funds allow.

Ms. Yingling

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