September 18, 2015 • Cee • Reviews

Vengeance Road

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman •  September 1, 2015 • HMH Books for Young Readers
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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.


I received this book for free from HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “It weren’t no secret Pa owned the best plot of land ‘long Granite Creek, and I reckon that’s why they killed him.”

Who knew Westerns could be so fun? Why don’t you mosey on towards Vengeance Road, guys? Don’t be hesitant about Westerns because they are awesome when you give them a fighting chance.

Vengeance Road follows Kate Thompson looking to avenge her father’s death after the Rose Riders came for him and hung him up because of a journal leading to buried treasures. Along the way, she gains a pair of brothers and a Native American girl, not at all welcome on her path to revenge. Kate learns that she will need their help to get what she wants, and she’ll lie and omit if she has to. She’s gonna kill Waylan Rose and his boys one way or another.


  • Erin Bowman makes Westerns fun.

Westerns is a genre that everybody seems to be hesitant to read. I always forget how exciting they actually are if you give it a chance—in either book or film form. But really, guys, what’s not to like about the Old West? There’s gorgeous barren landscape of the desert where you can see nothing beyond the horizon, and people who roam with purpose (usually for revenge), wielding a gun or riding horses. That’s exactly what you get in Vengeance Road and then some.

Erin Bowman creates characters that will captivate you from the first time they appear in the book, and she’ll give you awesome action scenes that’ll have you jumping for more. Besides, a Western is the perfect setting for revenge, don’t you agree?

  • You’ve got a badass heroine wielding a gun.

How can you say no to that? You can’t.

Kate is one badass lady. She’s tough, smart, reckless, and stubborn as hell. She’s not gonna sit around and do nothing while her father’s killer is out there. She’s not a person to mess with. She can get so into her vengeance that it makes her do stupid and dangerous things. She is unafraid of death; she’ll look at it in the eye if it means getting her father’s killers. She has no remorse for the people she killed—just the way I like my revenge to be served; she won’t say sorry for what she’s done, unless she’s pushed to do it, which she does gruffly. She’s not gonna think about her actions; instead, she’ll carry on her path of vengeance. You can’t help but admire her courage and her tenacity, even if you don’t agree with her decisions.

  • Two brothers? No love triangle though!

Two brothers, Jesse and Will Colton, invite themselves to Kate’s path of vengeance, and you learn a lot about these characters as they interact. Jesse, the older brother, likes to talk a lot and is nosy, while Will, the younger one, is blunt and not as much of a talker compared to his brother. Jesse takes a special interest in Kate, which will turn romantic but barely, whereas Will can care less about Kate and follows his brother to look out for him. Jesse can be quite hypocritical that borders on frustration—many times I wanted to shout at him to let Kate get her revenge—but that’s human.

If you’re looking for romance, Vengeance Road doesn’t focus on it; it’s very subtle. It does hint on Kate’s and Jesse’s feelings a bit. Personally, I was not a fan of the romance aspect because Jesse’s characterization was a bit all over the place, and I didn’t particularly like him. (My brain wanted pure revenge, no romance please.)

  • It has its funny moments.

To combat the darkness of revenge, Vengeance Road had humorous moments that lightened it up. When Kate and the brothers clashed with each other, that was when the humor shined; it was such a delight to read because there was so much sass coming from Will about Kate’s stubbornness and coldness. It was excellent banter that helps you connect with the characters.

  • The dialect is fun to imitate.

It will take you a moment to adjust to it, but once you do, you may want to read the book aloud—see if you start speaking with a Western twang. ;) It’s what you expect a person from the Old West to sound—at least how the movie portrays them.

  • The action is wonderfully brutal.

The Old West can be a brutal place, especially people like the Rose Riders riding around and killing folks for their personal gains. Erin Bowman doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the shoot-outs and killings, and I love it. There’s no sugar-coating it, and it’s amazing to read because of how unapologetic it is about the bloodshed. Bowman doesn’t hide the killings behind the scenes; Kate is gonna kill those damn Rose Riders, and we’re gonna see it.


Westerns tend to draw people away, but Erin Bowman packs Vengeance Road with so much high-stake action and characters who are so badass that you’d be enthralled by this world she created. You’ll be rooting for Kate to exact her revenge and cursing her for her recklessness; falling for the brothers and wanting to throttle them to let Kate exact her revenge; urging Kate to open up to the brothers and the Apache girl Liluye; and whooping in joy at all the gun actions.

Vengeance Road has all the revenge and badassery you’ll ever want in a book.


6 Responses to “(ARC) REVIEW | Why You Need to Read Vengeance Road”

  1. I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I didn’t know what to expect from it since I don’t read many Westerns, but if they’re all like this I’d definitely read more from the genre. The romance was sweet, but I agree that I could have done without it. There was enough going on in the book anyway!

  2. I was SO happy about VR. I was nervous (not loving Bowman’s first series) but I ended up really loving this one. I was so so happy there wasn’t a love triangle. I’m not a fan of sibling triangles for the most part! So happy you liked it too!

  3. Krystianna says:

    I’m so glad to see that this one doesn’t have a love triangle! That makes me want to check it out even more! :) Great review!
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

  4. I am very hesitant about westerns,but I keep hearing so many good things about this book! Perhaps I should follow your advice and just give it a try. :)

  5. Alexa S. says:

    Yesssss to everything you’ve said in your review about VENGEANCE ROAD! I really, really liked it. I loved the fast pace, and how actual historical lore was woven into it. And I loved that vengeance was definitely the primary goal that defined who Kate was in this one!

  6. Dianne says:

    I feel really bad about this because VENGEANCE ROAD is one of my most anticipated 2015 releases. But when I got the eARC, I just never felt like reading it. I really hope I get around to this soon lalala

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