Monday, October 26, 2015

Book Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road 
by Erin Bowman
Date of Publication: September 1, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Buy It: Amazon / TBD
Source: NetGalley / Bought own copy

"When Kate Thompson's father is killed by the notorious Red Rose Gang 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."

My Review:

“That sound real nice, boy,” he says. “Now for the love of God, lower that damn pistol.”

“All right,” I says.

And I do.

Right after I shoot him through the skull.

Vengeance Road is a YA novel based on The Lot Dutchman lore from late 19th-century Arizona with liberties Bowman took surrounding some of the characters in the myth. It follows tom-boy Kate who's out to seek vengeance for her father's murder by the Rose Riders. The Rose Riders is a gang notorious for their brute behavior and little mercy given to their victims. This stand-alone Western takes you on a journey through Arizona to the Superstition Mountains in 1877 as Kate tracks down the Rose Riders with great scenic imagery for ambiance. Vengeance Road introduces you to several endearing side characters. Kate meets Jesse and Will, brothers who are entertaining and a necessary binary attribute in temperament to Kate's fearless and ruthless mentality. We also meet Liluye, a Native American girl who imparts her wisdom to Kate and helps show the diversity of people who inhabited Arizona in the 19th century.   
One thing that I enjoyed about this book was the brutality. I didn't know YA could be so cutthroat and I loved it! It reminded me of the classic Western movies and the plot with the descriptions made it easy to picture in my mind as if it was one. I personally love historical fiction and appreciate Bowman's attention to describing the clothing, buildings, and landscape in the novel. 
I felt Vengeance Road was incredibly well written: incorporating the dialect for authenticity and the prose! Kate is a brave heroine who is trying to cope with her father's murder. You come to love her, Jesse, Will and Liluye in the novel. While reading you'll feel anger, sympathy, loss, happiness, among other emotions. Erin Bowman did a wonderful job with this novel. I hope she writes a companion sometime in the future.  

Lasting Impression:
I love the Erin Bowman's writing style and she did great with incorporating a Western dialect in the prose and dialogue! I normally don't gravitate toward westerns, but after reading Vengeance Road I feel YA needs more of them. It shows Bowman did her research given the extensive scenic descriptions, the folklore surrounding the story, and the incorporation of historical authenticity (clothing, people in the area in 1877, etc). I love historical fiction anyway so this was a 4.5/5 star book for me! 
I received a copy for review and before finishing with that copy I bought my own. I knew I would want this book in its physical form and to reread it someday. I can easily imagine this being on the small or big screen. Now I am eager to read her Taken series!

Vengeance Road Pinterest Board made by Erin Bowman:

Key Points:
No insta-love, constant action, Wild West, entertaining side characters, great writing, awesome & fearless protagonist, historical fiction. 

Buy the Book
The cover feels gritty like a desert, the colors are great, the cover art is great, and the book naked fits the theme.

About the Author:
Erin Bowman used to tell stories visually as a web designer. Now a full-time writer, she relies solely on words. She lives in New Hampshire with her family and when not writing she can often be found hiking, commenting on good typography, and obsessing over all things Harry Potter.
Erin is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger. She is the author of TAKEN, FROZEN, and FORGED (4/14/15) from HarperTeen.


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