Vengeance Road Review: Revenge in the Wild West

March 5, 2017 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

Vengeance Road Review: Revenge in the Wild WestVengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on September 1st 2015
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure
Amazon | Book Depository | Angus & Robertson
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Revenge is worth its weight in gold.
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.

What a cracking Western! I’m not usually a fan of the Western setting, but Vengeance Road captured it perfectly – the quickfire gun draws, the sprawling Western setting, and a cracker of a heroine. It is written in such an authentic voice, with a strong heroine and an exciting adventure, that I ended up absolutely loving it.

Written in a Southern drawl, the book tells the story of Kate as she poses as a boy in her quest to avenge her father. Kate is an absolute cracker of a heroine; she’s brash, feisty, daring and totally driven. She answers to absolutely no one but herself, and isn’t afraid of going after what she wants. I loved her smart choice of words, her bold moves and her reckless disregard for safety. Kate shows us that you can do anything that you set your mind to, which I found inspiring.


Hellbent on her mission, Kate has absolutely no time for anything but her mission, but she does find some accomplices – the broody Jesse and the easygoing Will, who are cowboys with demons of their own. I loved their banter with one another, and how they related to Kate firstly as a pretend boy, and later when they discover she’s a woman. Her cautious friendship with Will and constant bickering with Jesse presented an interesting contrast to the story’s grittier interior.

“Who’s got time for reading when there’s crops to tend and herds to drive? It’s a luxury, Jesse. It ain’t nothing worthwhile.”

The secondary characters were fantastic, as Will, Jesse and the Apache girl Liluye had personalities that leapt off the pages. Will’s easygoing humour, Jesse’s stubborn nature and Liluye’s quiet assertiveness were all well fleshed out. I loved their dynamic with one another, and how each and every one of them had something to add to the journey. Jesse’s prejudice against Liluye did however, rub me the wrong way at times, highlighting how ignorant people can be of one’s culture.

Vengeance Road is filled to the brim with adventure, as the trio travel through jaunty saloons, dusty old plains, rocky outcrops and superstitious gold mines. There’s lots of shootouts and danger as they’re being chased by the murderous Rose Riders. Everyone in the wild west is motivated by gold and riches, which are hidden in a superstitious gold mine in Apache (Indian) territory. The story is fast paced and flows really easily, as Kate and the gang constantly try and escape each other. The adventure was exciting, full of twists and turns and I was glued to it’s pages.

I wanna start living again without this boiling, vile blackness inside me, this scar that feels like it’s never any closer to healing. I wanna move on.

I liked how there was a slight romance that didn’t take over the story. Kate and Jesse have an antagonistic relationship, and they don’t form a romantic connection until much later in the story. I liked how they took the time to get to know each other, both focused on their mission before taking an interest in anything more. They’re both incredibly stubborn and set in their own ways, and only after they recognised their commonality did it start to mean something more.


I absolutely loved Vengeance Road with it’s strong driven characters, authentic Western setting and gritty quest for vengeance. From the quickfire shootouts, saloons, goldmines, cowboys and their horses, there’s so much to love here and I binge read it in two days. It’s also a refreshing standalone that doesn’t drag out unnecessarily, and I loved getting that closure and satisfaction after reading it.

Rating: 5 out of 5



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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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34 responses to “Vengeance Road Review: Revenge in the Wild West

  1. Olivia-Savannah

    This book sounds like it is the perfect balance of everything! I haven't read it yet myself, but I am very curious about the Western setting now. I also love it when the secondary characters are strong and also developed well, and when the romance is present but not taking over the story. I am so excited!

  2. Bingeing On Books

    I absolutely loved this one! Did you know she is coming out with a kind of a sequel to this one? It doesn't have the same characters, but it features someone from one of the gangs or something in this one. Very exciting.

  3. Cyn @ Bookmunchies

    Yay! I'm glad you enjoyed this, too! Kate is so badass haha, and yes, totally loved that there was a bit of romance, but vengeance remained the meat of the story.
    I'm so happy that Bowman is writing another book in the universe! The covers are so gorgeous!
    Awesome review, Jeann!

    • I completely agree, how freaking awesome was her character? I loved her so much and her character voice as well. Thank you Cyn!

  4. Kelly

    I'm not one for Westerns, but I read this book before it came out and thought it was seriously one of the most amazing books I had ever picked up. It was so exciting, and it was written in such a captivating way that really made it an engaging and exciting book from the first chapter to the very end. Really glad to hear that you liked it – fabulous review!

    I'm super excited to know there's a sequel coming out!

    • I completely agree Kelly! it was done so well and I loved how it was written. The characterisation was amazing, I can't wait for the sequel now!~

  5. Bec

    YASSSSS!!! I'm so glad you loved this as much as I did! It's so action packed and amazing and dhjhfsakdjhf Hopefully we both love Retribution Rails as much!!

  6. You had me at Southern drawl Jeann. I love me some good old southern shoot em ups and this sounds absolutely brilliant. I think what strikes me most is the romance, it's subtle but sounds as though it builds nicely throughout the storyline without overwhelming the narrative. Ohh, I'm excited to grab a copy of this one now too. Brilliant review! <3

    • Yesss, it\’s totally your type of book Kelly and I think you\’ll really enjoy the feminist aspect of it now! Thank you, I hope you enjoy it!

  7. I don't think I've ever read a book with a Western setting before, and this one sounds like it would be really fun. Although the racism from Jesse is something I wouldn't like reading about.

    I have read a few contemporaries set in the desert, with some of the themes you've mentioned here, but I feel like this book would turn that around and make it so much more fun and interesting. I'm not sure if this is a perfect book for me, but I think if I'm in a reading slump and really need something out of my comfort zone then this would be the book to pick up!

    Glad you liked it so much, Jeann ^.^

    • It was really fantastic Chiara! I\’m so glad I gave it a shot and it turned into one of my fav reads of 2016. Yeah, I\’m glad to point out the racism because I think it could be a triggering point for some people.

  8. I’m not sure this is my kind of read, but I’m tempted by your enthusiasm about this book. Kate sounds like a fantastic protagonist. I second you about unnecessary standalones. Wonderful review, Jeann!

    • Yessss a rare standalone and it worked out really well, although a few people have said that an exciting companion novel will be out. Kate was awesome!

  9. Emily

    I don't really read Western fiction at all but after all this praise, I'm going to have to pick this one up. YAY vengeance quests and shootouts! Awesome review Jeann 😀

    • YAY! I'm so glad to hear that you're keen on picking this one up! Westerns aren't really my thing either but man, this one blew me away. Thank you Emily!

  10. Oh YAY! I am so glad that you loved it! I enjoyed it a lot, and I already pre-ordered the companion/whatever Retribution Rails is. I love the Western thing so much- such an interesting time period! Great review! 😀

    • Yessss I didn't even realise that Retribution Rails was coming out, so thanks for the heads up! How freaking gorgeous is that cover?! I can't wait!

  11. Western has never been my idea of a good time, but Walk on Earth A Stranger changed all that for me. This sounds like a good one, too! I'll have to see if I ever picked up a copy. 😀 Anytime a book features a character hell bent on revenge is one that I would more than likely read, so thanks for this, Jeann.

  12. Angel @ Angel Reads

    I've heard really good things about this one and I really want to pick it up, but I don't know if it's my thing. Might have to try it. Thanks for the review.

  13. Bieke (Nelly B.)

    I still haven't gotten the chance to read this one! I know I have to. It sounds SO good and I do love a good western from time to time. Great review, as always, Jeann!

  14. Ali (@thebandarblog)

    Yay! I really liked this one, too! I can't wait for Retribution Rails. I think it takes place 20 years later or something like that? I just want to read another western by Bowman!

  15. AvalinahsBooks

    Sounds good! Somehow makes me think of Blood Red Road, a little. But the cover :0 just look at it! So gorgeous.
    Will there be sequels, or is this one of those rare standalones?

    • I still haven’t read Blood Red Road, it’s been on my shelf for ages! It’s a brilliant book that deserves all the hype hehe. This one was a standalone, but Ali just let me know that there’ll be a companion book set 20 years later. Yay!

  16. Ohh I’ve heard of this and I’ve seen it around so many times !! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pick it up because of the Western setting, however, hearing that it is told authentically pits my mind at ease in that aspect.So perhaps I will be pickin it up after all!! Great review!


    • Yesssss! I don’t usually enjoy the Western setting but omg you have to give this book a shot. I hope you enjoy it Sam, and thanks for commenting!

  17. OKAY JEANN YOU GOT ME SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK NOW! I have been told to pick it up but I just haven’t gotten around to it because I’m not sure I’ll enjoy the Western setting but I trust your judgement on books so I’ll give this a shot hopefully sometime soon! Lovely review and thanks for sharing!

    • YAYYYY! Yesss it’s definitely slipped under the radar but everyone who I’ve seen who’s read it, absolutely loved it! Yay, I’m excited that you’re keen on picking it up now Anisha! Thank you lovely!

  18. Yesss! I’m so glad you loved this one too. It’s one of my absolute favourites!! And that’s saying something because I don’t even generally fall in love with Westerns. But SO MUCH SASS AND SHOOTY THINGS and I love how the romance didn’t drown out the revenge plot. Epicness.
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Beautiful People ~ March EditionMy Profile

    • I’m exactly the same Cait! I’m not really a Western person, but all of that changed when I picked up this book! Even though I read it a year ago, I finally found a space on my blog to post the review because it NEEDS raving about.

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