This post contains affiliate links. I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. I don’t frequently find books set in southwest Arizona unless they are old westerns that I don’t care to read. However, I recently discovered a young adult book, Blood and Silver by Vali Benson that is set in Tombstone, Arizona. The author herself lives in Tucson, Arizona. I happily agreed to read this short, debut novel.
About Blood and Silver
Blood and Silver by Vali Benson tells the story of 12 year old Carissa Beaumont, a young girl who moves to San Francisco with her mother, father, and brother. Unfortunately, along the way, both her brother and father die.
While Carissa’s mom, Lisette, tries hard to support her child in San Francisco, eventually, she’s forced into prostitution. She stays in that profession because the madam keeps her drugged. In 1880, when the madam, Miss Lucille, hears there is great opportunity in Tombstone, AZ, she moves Lisette, Carissa, and a few other girls down there to do business.
Once they arrive in Tombstone, Carissa is desperate to help her sick mother. She tricks Miss Lucille and is able to have a doctor examine her mother. Together the doctor and Carissa come up with a plan to wean Lisette off the drugs. The plan requires the help of China Mary (based on a real person in Tombstone), who distributes opium in Tombstone.
China Mary takes a liking to Carissa and helps her in many ways, including helping her get a job styling rich women’s hair in the new, fancy Grand Hotel. China Mary’s neice, Mai-Lin, also works with Carissa.
Carissa is saving her money to free her mother, but before that happens, tragedy strikes, and Carissa will need help from all of her new friends to keep her own life.
I enjoyed that this book takes place in Tombstone because it’s a stone throw away from where we live. The historical details are fun, and the story kept me interested. I read this story in two days.
Benson seems to do her best to keep the details of Lisette’s profession out of the story. In fact, Lisette is recovering during the whole story and doesn’t “work.” However, given the sensitive nature of the story including prostitution, drug abuse, and murder, I probably won’t let my own 12 year old read this book for a few more years. (This book is recommended for ages 13-22, though clearly people older than 22 can enjoy this book as I did!)
I appreciated that in the end of the book, Benson sets the stage for a sequel, which I hope will be coming soon!
I give Blood and Silver by Vali Benson 4 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.