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.
Okay, this books went beyond my expectations. I grew up on westerns, I love them. This book was like reliving every single western I have ever seen and cherished, and then some. Erin Bowman has a beautiful way of describing the setting and characters that pulls you into her story and drags you along until you’re as breathless and filthy as the main character Kate.
That’s what was so great about this book. Bowman spared no gruesome, nasty detail. Everything was dirty, the gunfights had bloodshed, the dead were described until I wanted to vomit. It was awesome! It was like all 111 minutes of True Grit had been smashed into a YA book. (Except it was even better than that.) I also appreciated how the inevitable love angle wasn’t overplayed. Kate and Jesse’s story didn’t overshadow the main plot and didn’t distract from all that stomach turning action. The characterization was also really good. I love that I could go through this book and not really like Kate. She’s brash and sometimes stupid, but that makes her real and wonderful and I love that she’s who she is and not some default stock character shoved into the protagonist slot.
I did find the dialect the book was written in distracting at first. I’m not a big fan of first person novels being written in the vernacular the character speaks in, but once involved in the action the language didn’t stand out to me as much. Four for you, Bowman for good, immersive writing. I only rolled my eyes a handful of times at Kate and Jesse’s interactions .(see page 109 for my least favorite troupe ever, tomboy in a dress wows male counterparts, every time Kate was concerned with Jesse’s opinion, and page 163 where Kate said “Heaven forbid she just call him God.” when Lil, the Apache girl, mentioned her tribal religion. Shut up Kate.) I also could have done without Maria’s villainous monologue. Her whole appearance, while unexpected and amazing, was a bit quick and underplayed in my opinion. You spend over 200 pages getting to this point, and it’s all over in less than 5.
All in all, I was very impressed with Vengeance Road and Bowman’s portrayal of the wild west. She did an amazing job with her description, characters, and everything in between. I’ve read tales of a companion book for Vengeance Road, and as much as I hate companion novels, I am excited for it despite myself. Hopefully Bowman will keep up the good work and impress me all over again.