Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
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Release date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Length: 336 pages
Source: ARC from BEA/e-ARC via Edelweiss
Rating: yeeeeehawwwwww (that's a good thing)
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.
In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.
This book combines many things that I love: WESTERNS YEE HAW, girls disguised as boys, GIRLS SEEKING VENGEANCE, girls being ruthless killers yessir, girls doing things, hot cowboys, BRUTAL TWISTS, and voice. So voice. Basically, Vengeance Road is darn tootin' good readin', and you you should get on that road and follow it through all the bloodshed and bad-assery.
Vengeance Road tells the story of Kate Thompson, whose father is murdered and her homestead burned and ransacked by the Rose Riders, a notorious bandit gang who PILLAGE AND PLUNDER AND MURDER. Kate is a tough-as-nails girl, and she decides to do the only thing that makes sense to her: VENGEANCE. BLOOD FOR BLOOD. she chops her air off, throws some dude clothes on, and sets off on a Wild West adventure, looking to make the guys who killed her father pay. With their lives.
This is no gentle, Dr. Quinn kind of Western (though I frickin' love me some Dr. Quinn but that is a TANGENT). Chapter 1 literally ends with Kate shooting a guy in the face in cold blood. Awesome stuff here. Plus she meets a pair of cute sharpshootin' cowboy brothers who are all friendly and she is so very NOT and I just love my heroines when they come completely covered in spikes. Kate is so consumed by her plot of vengeance, in going down in bloody inglorious blaze, that she's blind to a lot of things around her, like budding friendships and opportunities. Kate is ferocious and fierce and difficult, and I loved her. I especially loved her voice.
This book is written in dialect, which is something that's extremely difficult to pull of but that rolls out seamlessly. It immediately sunk me into Kate's world and time, though admittedly, I'm a huge fan of dialect, so it wasn't a problem for me.
I love how many nods to classic Western movies and novels this book had. It had a classic poker scene, a brothel lady, secret gold, and more shoot-em-ups than you can count. It perhaps could have gone deeper and pressed harder in places, to really squeeze out the blood and tears--particularly when it came to Kate's parents--but I'll admit to getting utterly PUNCHED IN THE GUT during one reveal. Oh, Erin, you know what you did. I actually moaned aloud and put the book down. That was brutal. NO MERCY. I loved how this book never slowed down, too. The action was always ramping up.
I really love when an author's second effort impresses me more than the first. Taken wasn't the book for me, but I really like Erin Bowman and had a great feeling about VR (because of the Western-ness and the bloodthirsty disguised girl on a mission of VENGEANCE and stuff). My faith definitely paid off, because I got a swoony romance and a tough-ass bitch on horseback shooting people up, WHICH WORKS FOR ME.
I will admit it's a bit weird reading this book in the same year as Under a Painted Sky and Walk on Earth a Stranger, because they are all hilariously similar, being Westerns with female heroines disguised as boys, but hey, for me, that trope never goes out of style, and BRING ON THE WESTERNS, I SAY. YEEHAW.