Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Source: Digital galley courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group/HMH Books for Young Readers via NetGalley. Thank you!
Expected publication: September 1, 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Verdict: Very Good
When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate. In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.
The book magpie in me first saw the gorgeous cover and intriguing title and thought: must. read. Luckily for the reader in me, Erin Bowman’s young adult western Vengeance Road is a pretty terrific read: uniquely narrated, full of standout characters, sharp storytelling and all-around grittiness.
Set in the late nineteenth century in Arizona, Vengeance Road tells the incredible story of eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson. Readers are not only immediately immersed in Kate’s distinct and era-appropriate speech, but also made aware that this story will not hold back on surprise or bloodshed. As noted in the book description above, Vengeance Road highlights the absolutely terrifying cutthroat nature of the Wild West; but even with this understanding, there were moments that even I was taken aback or shocked with some plot turns and character ends. Bowman has crafted such an interesting and harrowing tale here, while allowing for some development of friendship and romance. Not to worry though, the budding and slow-to-build romance never takes away from the inherently taut nature of the read, nor takes away from the main story at hand of Kate’s drive for revenge. I love how the author has created such a fierce heroine in Kate, and think that many readers will find another Katniss/Trinity/Ripley-type fighter to root for and admire.
Overall, I very much enjoyed Vengeance Road and would recommend it for readers looking for a distinct and suspenseful young adult read. As my reading and watching of westerns is relatively limited, my comparisons are as well, unfortunately…but I would say that those who enjoy movies such as True Grit and the tenacity of Mattie Ross (as played wonderfully by Hailee Steinfeld) might especially enjoy Vengeance Road. Readers who enjoy action-packed and slightly gory tales and film (No Country for Old Men, 3:10 to Yuma), or historical reads about nineteenth century North America should also be enamored of this title.
I received this book as a digital galley from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group/HMH Books for Young Readers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.