RIVER OF SKULLS
The Journey begins as the California breaks through the fog of the Golden Gate straits. Emily stands anxiously at the ship’s railing searching for her husband on the waterfront. Joseph isn’t there.
Thrown into a chaotic and lawless Gold Rush frenzy, Emily is determined to survive and beat the odds against her; to find Joseph and save their gold claim in the Sierra Nevada foothills. But she is frightened when an old miner tells she is going to El Rio de las Calaveras, the River of Skulls.
Arriving in Calaveras County, Emily fails to find Joseph, disguises herself as a man, and rides to El Dorado Camp where he is rumored to be. There she is befriended by young Aaron, who introduces her to a charismatic Frenchman, Marcel. When Marcel lies and tells her that he is Joseph’s partner, Emily begs him to help her and he leads her to Esperanza Creek. Needing help with the claim, Emily agrees to an uneasy partnership and they work the claim together. Later Emily is thrilled to find Joseph, and Marcel’s departure for a better gold strike in Australia frees of her from concern about his possible theft of some of her gold. Later Marcel returns as a gambler and the tension between him and Emily makes the reader wonder about their relationship. But Emily remains loyal and supportive of Joseph.
As the saga continues, Emily draws on her courage and love to sustain her; experiences both failure and accomplishment. She learns to love the peace and beauty of the foothills, which are as a major character in the story throughout.
As mining technology advances, the family faces new challenges and setbacks, while the lure of gold grips Joseph and he persists against outlaws, lost gold, and tragedy.