A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.
I loved that Bowman chose to have her story set in the old west. This latest trend (still rather small trend but I hope we see much more) of western stories is very welcome. I find this book to be incredibly enjoyable and refreshing since I’ve not read many western style novels. I will admit that at first the writing was a tiny bit hard to get into. Bowman used grammatical error in dialog which was fitting to the story and characters but reading it took a bit to adjust too. My mind had issues trying to correct the grammar rather than get immersed in the story. I was able to get over this after about a chapter so no biggie. I wanted to put it out there though in case you are like me.
The book was set in Arizona, the descriptions were rich and made it so easy to visualize. I could easily see the scenes playing out like a movie as I read so that was really wonderful. Vengeance Road is a standalone novel so we get a full story with closure all in one book. I could see a ton of potential for companion novels so I’ve got my fingers crossed for those to happen. The pacing starts out lazy just like you’d expect a hot Arizona day but things ramp up as the story progresses.
The last third of the book was incredibly fast paced and I was happy to be surprised by some of the twists and turns. In the author’s note Bowman talks about where the inspiration for the story came as well as how she interwove her story into a legend about the location. I never skip acknowledgements or author notes but if you tend to I’d recommend you read this one.
Bowman did such an excellent job with these characters. Her main character, Kate, was driven by hatred and revenge which made her such an intriguing point of view to read from. I loved watching her come to terms with her grief and since I’ve just lost someone I deeply loved I could relate to her pain. I love that she was in no way a good or bad person. She fully fell in the middle ground and did good things and bad things. You can easily sympathize with her one page and then be shocked by her grit on the next.
The secondary cast was very well done. Kate goes on her journey with two brothers, Will and Jesse who are dealing with their own grief and pain. I think that the author did an exceptional job in showing how difficult life would have been in the old west. I appreciated the vast amount of growing up these teens had to experience in such a short amount of time. And for those curious- this book had no love triangle.
Vengeance Road exceeded my expectations with a realistic depiction of the old west, complex characters and twists I didn’t see coming. This book was exceptionally well done and I highly recommend it and I’m holding out hope for a companion novel.