"Volmer's distinctive, beautifully written debut is set in the California gold rush country in the mid-19th century, when tensions and fortunes were as volatile as the ground prospectors mined ... Volmer's prose is taut and restrained, moving the story along at a healthy clip as her hardscrabble characters rumble and stumble through their dusty domain. Volmer's found a fat vein of gold in some heavily mined territory." --Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
"Volmer has written a new story of the California gold rush that is as believable and transporting as any I have ever read. . . . Volmer's characters are wonderful and the story is tense and engaging."--Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
"Mary Volmer possesses such fierce powers of description, I could almost feel the dust of Motherlode clinging to the hem of my skirt. In Crown of Dust, Volmer has created an intensely physical and utterly enjoyable novel, filled with unforgettable characters."--Michelle Richmond, the New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog
"Any illusions about the glamour of digging for gold are totally shattered by Mary Volmer's 'Crown of Dust,' a grim and carefully researched book about the California gold rush…. Volmer, in her remarkable first novel, has re-created the reality of an era that few can even visualize now." --Muriel Dobbin (The Washington Times)
"Volmer probes deeply. Crown of Dust is a brooding, compulsively readable tale of identity lost and won." --Dan Barnett (The Buzz)
"Debut novelist Mary Volmer’s heartwarming story, set during America’s Gold Rush, makes a vital contribution to the literature of women who won the Wild West....Readers will realize that they are indeed being handed a gift, a nugget of pure gold." --Elizabeth Breau (ForeWord)
"Crown of Dust is a lovely paean to all the little towns born during the California Gold Rush, and an emotional elegy to the forgotten souls who worked, loved, and died in such places." Lisa Verge Higgins (New York Journal of Books)
"Volmer brings the danger and wonder of wild California to life in this vivid re-creation of the Gold Rush era. Readers get a real sense of the tensions surrounding the gold miners: unpredictable nature, vicious rivalries, and the intrusion of laws made by “men in small rooms"... Teens will be seduced by the slow revelations of Alex’s past, and the collision of her past with those she has come to love in her present." Diane Colson, School Library Journal, "Adult Books For Teens"
"There are subliminal echoes of L. Frank Baum in Volmer's mythmaking with Motherlode as an Old West Emerald City, Emaline as the Good Witch and Alex's punitive Gran as the defunct Bad Witch of the East. But Volmer keeps whimsy in check with a terse present-tense voice that invests her pioneers with piquant inner lives and a poker-faced lyricism. " --Jan Stuart, The New York Times "Sunday Review of Books"