Review: Vengeance Road

May 10, 2017

“That sounds real nice, boy”, he says. “Now for the love of God, lower that damn pistol.”

“Alright,” I says. 

And I do. 

Right after I shoot him through the skull.



Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.

I’m honestly surprised by the ratings on Vengeance Road. With a less than 4 star average on Goodreads, I picked it up expecting major flaws, yet hoping they wouldn’t detract from enjoying a quick, fun read. But damnit, this book was fabulous and I have zero complaints about it.

Perhaps it’s the genre that is off-putting to some? Or maybe the authentic southern dialect of the first person narrative. But though I’m no expert in Westerns, I thought this book was a fresh change of pace with YA being so dominated by fantasy and contemporary.

And though YA it may be, this book is absolutely vicious and we aren’t spared any of the violent details. Kate Thompson is one of the toughest heroines I’ve ever come across. When her father is brutally murdered, she sets off with her rifle disguised as boy on a journey to find his murderers and avenge his death. She gets her hands dirty, makes mistakes, questions herself yet confidently pushes forward regardless of her doubts. Oh, I just loved her.

The pacing is relentless and just doesn’t quit, and all the while the setting and atmosphere is so fully realized, I could almost feel the dusty Arizona desert wind and scorching sun on my back.

The romance sub-plot burns slow and subtle and never takes away from energy of the story. The characters were honestly portrayed and are unlikeble at times. It definitely wasn’t a sugar coated story but I loved it all the more for that.

Vengeance Road is the perfect adventurous summer read for western lovers and those of you who, like me, have little experience with the genre and want to try something new. I am seriously excited for its companion, Retribution Rails, out this fall.

Oh and damnit, just look at that glorious cover art.

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Just look at it. 

My rating: 4/5 stars

Title: Vengeance Road

Author: Erin Bowman

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Genre: Western, YA, adventure