Title: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
Format I Read: Physical ARC
Genres: Historical Fiction, Action
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads
For those of you that are unfamiliar with Vengeance Road:
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.
You see, I’m not usually a one-genre kind of girl. I read just about anything and everything, as long as it’s YA and has at least a trace of romance. I read fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, whatever. But there’s one genre that’s typically no-go territory for me: historical fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read and enjoyed a handful of historical fiction. But it’s not a genre that often graces my TBR. I’ve just never been a girl who likes historical fiction. Until now.
I absolutely loved Vengeance Road: the characters, the voice, the intrigue, the adventure, the action. Bowman created a story that kept me on my toes. My eyes scoured the pages and my fingers were furiously flipping through the book. I found myself completely entranced.
Kate was such a fantastic protagonist. From the first page, you’re rooting for her. She’s strong and independent, a true fighter, but she’s also just an eighteen-year-old girl. Yes, she’s her own hero, but she’s simultaneously an orphan whose father was brutally murdered and a teen who doesn’t know what to do with her growing attachment to a certain boy. It was so fantastic to see just how complex Kate was. All of her reactions and actions were justified and realistic; there was no point in the book where I got mad at her for being an idiot (which happens in a lot of books, to be completely honest). I also loved seeing how confused she was about her feelings for Jesse—it was so endearing. Bowman included the perfect sprinkle of romance. Enough to keep me interested, but not enough to overshadow Kate’s own story.
The other characters were just as great as Kate. From Will to Jesse, Pa to Abe, Rose to Lil, each person added so much to the book. I loved the Colton brothers. They balanced each other out so perfectly and were so real. I honestly felt like they could be real people. They didn’t seem like far-off, distant pictures of cowboys at all. They were real people. I really enjoyed Pa, though he’s already dead by the opening scene. It was so great to see Kate’s reactions as she discovers more about her father. He was one of my favorite characters, which is saying a lot, considering he’s dead the entire book! Lil was such a great addition, though she doesn’t enter the story until later. She’s an Apache who acts as Kate and the boys’ scout for part of their trek. I loved the historical insight into the Native Americans. It was so intriguing and interesting! Waylan Rose, the man who Kate is chasing throughout the book, was a great villain. I won’t say more about him, to avoid spoilers, but he was awesome. He was the epitome of the Wild West.
I loved how accurately the book seemed to capture the setting. From the saloons to the standoffs and poker games, from the fantastic descriptions of the Arizona landscape to the crazy dust storms, I felt like I was really there. I could picture everything. Bowman perfectly captured the setting!
The voice was so well-done. Though the Western dialect is disorienting at first, it helps you enter the world—both place and time—of the novel. It really helped set the tone and made the story that much more realistic. So many props to Ms. Bowman for staying true to the dialect!
Honestly, I could go on about this book for hours. It was truly fantastic. It made my breath catch in my throat, my legs quiver with nervous energy, and my fingers itch to get to the next page. It opened my eyes to the magic of historical fiction. I couldn’t put it down. Even if you don’t like history or Westerns, it’s worth a read!
With lots of bookish love,