Author: Erin Bowman
Provided Synopsis: When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.
Review: Life changes forever when Kate Thompson returns home to find her house burning and her father hanged. Along the road, she can see the dust as those responsible flee on horseback, spurring her to seek revenge, and to seek answers about why her father was killed and by whom. Thus an adventure is set, moving across the Wild West of Arizona, entangling Kate with two brothers on her trail, and a quest for gold that can leave them all dead.
And I loved every minute of this one.
First of all, it is refreshing to come across a story in the YA genre that is something other than contemporary or fantasy. Vengeance Road did not shy away from the staples of a good Western story, containing action, saloons, gangs, stagecoaches, shoot-outs and rugged terrain. Violence and the consequences of actions spurred by greed or single-mindedness are never shied away from. The author did a fantastic job to place her readers within the setting; Kate speaks with a dialect straight from a Western, and every location was clearly painted, especially once the Superstition Mountains are reached. In addition, I thought the main characters were real. I understood Kate’s need to seek justice and answers; she never came off as a character putting on airs to suit the story that needed to be told. Even when she discovers romance with another character it felt true and never distracted from her goal and the story.
I come away from this one with an entirely new appreciation for Westerns, while hoping that I will encounter more excellently plotted ones in the future. Take a chance on this one, even if Westerns are not your usual style, because I do believe the other elements of the story will please every reader.