Guns, Greed, Gold and Grit

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 336 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley/Edelwiss; e-ARC
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Thoughts on 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. 

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation. 

Thoughts on Vengeance Road
I've been craving historical fiction set in the Wild West ever since I fell in love with Under a Painted Sky earlier this year. It was so refreshing - a time period I rarely read about, a book that depicted the diversity of the Oregon Trail in a meaningful way, a story that completely sucked me in. When I found out about Vengeance Road, I immediately put it on my wishlist. It sounded right up my alley, and I was hoping it would be just what I wanted.

Kate Thompson's father is killed by a notorious gang of outlaws, and Kate wants to know why. What secrets was he keeping from her? And what did the Rose Riders want from him? She disguises herself as a boy and sets off in pursuit of justice. She ends up with more than she bargained for when she gets caught up with two brothers and an Apache girl who join her. Kate's looking for revenge, but she'll uncover a whole lot more on this journey.

I was hooked on Vengeance Road from the very first chapter. Bowman wastes no time in diving right into the action! I loved Kate's voice and could immediately see her spunk and spirit. Don't mess with this girl! She's such a tough, strong character... but I enjoyed that she had moments of vulnerability and weakness. She kept me on my toes, and that made for a really fun read. Kate is certainly one of a kind!

I found the pacing slowed a bit after the first few chapters, but it picked up again about halfway through. There were some moments I expected, but there were quite a few others that caught me off guard. I love when a book makes me ask, "Did that really just happen?!" If you're a fan of plot-driven books packed with action and adventure, Vengeance Road certainly fits the bill. Reading this book almost felt like watching a movie because I could totally imagine it as a summer blockbuster with a star-studded cast!

But my favorite part of the book was the setting. It's not a romanticized version of the West - there's danger and death around every corner! With the threat of outlaws and the brutality of the land itself, it's not all cute cowboys and the promise of gold. I felt like I was right beside Kate is she pursued her father's murderers and searched for a hidden mine. The place felt like a character, in a way, and I always enjoy when that's the case.

While I enjoyed Vengeance Road, there were a few minor things that kept me from loving it. I had some issues with the way Kate treats the Apache girl, though I know it made sense for the time period. I thought they were going to develop a friendship at first, but I soon realized it wasn't really going to move beyond them having a begrudging respect for one another. I wish it could have been more! And my other issue was the romance. It wasn't developed enough for me - certain aspects felt too rushed or glossed over near the ending. I wanted there to be more from it or for it to be dropped completely. I just wasn't invested in it!

Overall, Vengeance Road was a rip-roaring good read. The tough heroine, hunt for revenge, and thrill of the Wild West make this worth picking up - whether or not you're a fan of historical fiction. And let's be honest - it has one of the best covers I think I've ever seen. This beauty will look great on your bookshelves!

So Quotable
"I thought I'd feel better when it were all said and done. I thought I'd feel like the world had reset, like things made sense. But I'm still just as alone, just as mad Pa were taken from me, just as furious it can't be changed."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.


  1. I keep hearing so many wonderful things about this book, it's gone straight onto my TBR list! Great review Hannah!

  2. I totally agree with you about the romance and Kate's relationship (or lack thereof) with the Apache girl. While I wished there was more, I was relieved it was at least something that Bowman put thought into and kept nuanced to push this book beyond a lot of the stereotypes and casual racism found in Western movies from the 1950s.

    Is Walk on Earth a Stranger on your radar? I really loved that one too!

  3. I really enjoyed VENGEANCE ROAD! It was just really fun to read about this girl so hell-bent on vengeance for her father, and to experience everything she does as she goes down that path. Bowman certainly handles her portrayal of the time period well, and I really enjoyed it!

  4. This sounds fantastic! I'm not usually drawn to the Wild West but it's always fun to read about different historical periods. And I definitely love plot-driven, movie-like action! Romance can be so tricky to get just right so I'm curious if I'll feel the same way you did. I was iffy on Vengeance Road but you've made me add it to my TBR! Great review, Hannah :)


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