I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Revenge is worth its weight in gold. When hers 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 can always enjoy a story that is well researched and Vengeance Road was just that. Kate is forced on the run after her father is murdered and what follows is the American West’s version of a (somewhat modified) hero’s journey, but with a vendetta and lots of blood. Kate’s quest is revenge, and while revenge stories end up badly more often than not, it’s an impulse that is relatable to everyone. She finds companions on her quest, as well as some truths about her family that provided a nice twist in the story. Kate’s character is determined and prickly, as you might expect from someone who is out to avenge her father’s death. She was everything that a hero in a Western should be; a great shot, a good bluffer, and not afraid to do what’s needed.
The cadence of the writing and the vernacular, which is period appropriate, took a little getting used to, but it added to atmosphere of the book. The world building was solid because of the research, and it did a good job of showing the reader what a dangerous place the west was as the US expanded in search of land and gold. The road to revenge was quite bloody, as revenge usually is, and it was not without loss. I have to say, though, that the story kept moving and never really stopped. While Westerns aren’t my favorite genre, I enjoyed this unique stand-alone. Vengeance Road did a very good job of bringing me into its world and told a story in such a immersive way, that I was glad I could go back to my safe neighborhood and indoor plumbing when I was finished.