Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: September 1st 2015I read Vengeance Road in preparation for the PassTruth signing at Books of Wonder, at which Erin Bowman was moderator. I also read this because I am currently on a historical fiction addiction (aha that rhymes!) right now, and this was my first Western.
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.
When I met Erin Bowman, I did tell her that Vengeance Road was my first Western, and it did not disappoint!
Kate Thompson's life changes when a group of strangers murder her father in cold blood. Now, she's out for revenge, with the help of two stubborn brothers and an distrustful Apache girl, to kill the men who killed her father.
The first thing I noticed about Vengeance Road was its dialogue. It was surprisingly... Western. With the yer and the reckon and the one tarnation that made me laugh, this could be a turn-off to people, having really authentic dialogue, but I enjoyed the authenticity. I could picture all the characters speaking in a Western accent, yee-haw. However, it did take me a few chapters to get into.
The dialogue did make it hard to gauge though, if it was an entirely serious work or was to be taken lightly. I've only seen Westerns in terms of movies, so it took me a few chapters to realize that it was a combination of both, not entirely serious like Tarantino's Hateful Eight, or really lighthearted like Blazing Saddles. There are standoffs and shootouts, but there are also romantic scenes and funny times with Kate, Jesse, and Will. It was a nice mix.
If anyone has seen the movie Holes, they know the character Kissin' Kate Barlow, and how badass she was. Kate Thompson reminded me of her! I don't have the best gif of her, but she was famous with a gun.
Both of them are out for revenge, and both of them are driven characters. Kate Thompson even disguises herself as a guy, as Nate, to find her father's killers. Her determination certainly is admirable. Jesse even points it out that she only has eyes on her one goal. And I liked that despite the gender differences in the timeframe, Kate does everything to eschew the expectations of girls.
The thought of being confined to town - standing behind a grocer's counter or waiting at home for a husband to return - is stifling. Every day the same. Marrying for security and nothing more. I can fire a rifle as good as any man. 'Parently I can kill another just as dead too. I don't see why I should act like I can't just 'cus it ruffles everyone else's feathers.
What's more, she's a book lover! I haven't read Little Women, but her interest in books matches mine. Book-loving characters are the best.
The shootouts and standoffs were at times corny, but also intense! Worried a few times for Kate and her friends. The plot developments themselves were also unexpected, but they were totally fitting for a Western novel.
If you're interested in reading a Western book for the first time, and like how authentic it is with the dialogue, I recommend Vengeance Road!