Vengeance Road was one of my most anticipated reads this year (that cover had me salivating) – it isn’t often I find a YA western, and it is hardest to find any western with a female protagonist. This book absolutely lived up to my expectations. This is my idea of a five star book. I don’t think you have to be a fan of westerns to really enjoy this book. There is a quest with plenty of action and adventure, there is a mystery with several surprising twists, and there is a coming of age story about a girl who loses her whole world and must rebuild herself. There might even be a little romance. Fans of Charles Portis and Louis L’Amour will certainly want to snap this book up, but if you enjoyed Blood Red Road or Stone Rider, you are going to want to give this a look. Vengeance Road is publishing September 1, 2015.
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.
Kate is a character who can stand tall and proud next to Mattie from True Grit or Echo Sackett from Ride the River. She is smart and determined but she is also vulnerable and real. The combination made her one of those characters who seems to live and breathe beyond the page. The setting, too, is as artfully crafted as any western reader could want. This isn’t a romanticized picture of a treasure hunt, the West or of outlaws. Kate is on a dangerous journey through a nearly lawless land and an unforgiving landscape. Trusting people can cost you your life. The threats to Kate and her companions are real; Consequences can be deadly. This book is also pretty impressive because of the pace of the story – it manages to keep the action going pretty consistently without seeming contrived. It also manages to build backstory for a lot of characters without slipping into lulls. I think it will hold the attention of even my most impatient and bloodthirsty high school guys, but it will also give my gals the emotional connections they crave with the characters. The only complaint I can see arising from a reader is the use of dialect. Kate has the speech patterns that are comparable to what a reader might encounter in this time and place (or that you might encounter in more rural or isolated communities today). It isn’t intrusive or overdone and it added to my picture of Kate’s character, but I know some people don’t appreciate the authenticity that regional dialect adds. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+ with the understanding that there is a lot of western violence. Adult readers of YA will find this a rich and satisfying read as well.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.