Vengeance Road

Vengeance Roadby Erin Bowman
YA Western / Historical Fiction
5 of 5 stars

This was a recommended to me by my good friend Maddy (check out her blog!) and I’m so glad she did! This is well outside my normal wheelhouse but it absolutely blew me away! I don’t like westerns, generally. Not the books, not the TV shows, not the movies. I don’t like dialect writing because it usually distracts me from the story (looking at you, Mark Twain, and you, every British writer attempting to record the Yorkshire accent). Vengeance Road is a western written with the cowboy/southern dialect, and I fell in love with it! Kate’s story had me from page one–let me explain why.

Kate comes home one afternoon to find her father hanged and their home burned. It’s not long before she finds out a gang known as the Rose Riders were after a map to a gold mine rumored to be in her father’s possession. Boiling with rage and determined to avenge her father’s death, Kate sets out to kill Waylan Rose and his gang. She’s a tough, smart girl, but even she isn’t prepared for everything that’s about to happen.

The plot is tight and addictive, and Kate guides you on her crazy journey with matter-of-fact narration that instantly transports you into her world. Kate has exactly the kind of grit and gumption I love to see in a protagonist. She doesn’t waver from her goals, but she isn’t without her introspective moments either. The side characters were just as concrete. The story definitely feels like a classic western with the usual tropes (desert, saloons, card games) but the tension throws off the temptation to think you know what’s about to happen. It’s tough to say more without spoilers, but this has one of the most satisfying endings I’ve encountered this year, especially in YA. Add this to your list!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Vengeance Road is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – I mean it when I say I haven’t read anything like Vengeance Road. This classic quest for buried treasure comes closest, and there’s plenty of adventure in it.
  • Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – In an alternate 1956, the Axis Powers won WWII and Yael is a Jewish girl on a mission to assassinate the Fuhrer. She just has to win a cross-country motorcycle race first-impersonating the previous year’s winner. See my review here.
  • Rook by Sharon Cameron – Something equally fast-paced and filled with the struggle to save family honor. See my review here.
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – A high-stakes strategy game between Kestrel and her soon-to-be father-in-law, the emperor. See my review here.

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