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Vengeance Road

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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.

327 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2015

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About the author

Erin Bowman

15 books1,936 followers
Erin Bowman is the critically acclaimed author of numerous books for children and teens, including the Taken Trilogy, Vengeance Road, Retribution Rails, the Edgar Award-nominated Contagion duology, The Girl and the Witch’s Garden, and the forthcoming Dustborn. A web designer turned author, Erin has always been invested in telling stories—both visually and with words. Erin lives in New Hampshire with her husband and children. You can visit her online at embowman.com, on twitter @erin_bowman, or on instagram @heyerin.


PLEASE NOTE: Erin does not check goodreads mail. If you message her this way she will not see it. For contact methods, visit Erin's website.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,990 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
July 21, 2015
"That sounds real nice, boy," he says. "Now for the love of God, lower that damn pistol."
"All right," I says.
And I do.
Right after I shoot him through the skull.

This book is nasty. When I heard that Erin Bowman had written a Western where the protagonist is a girl posing as a cowboy and ends up finding love in this wild, rugged landscape, I thought one thing - I bet this is the politest, cutest Western ever.

How wrong I was.

If you don't like the Western genre and are thinking about reading this because you believe a modern YA Western will be diluted and more romantic - don't bother. Bowman has stayed true to the old western style, filling this book with bloody revenge, shoot outs, saloons and cowboys (and girls) who shoot first and ask questions later. She even writes in the cowboy dialect. Lucky for me, though, it was right up my alley!

Vengeance Road is a thrill ride for lovers of badass revenge novels. When Kate Thompson (A.K.A. Nate Thompson) discovers her father tortured and left hanging from a tree, she buries his body, dries her eyes, and starts off after her father's killers - a band of notorious cowboys called the Rose Riders. Along the way she gains new allies, discovers the real reason these Rose Riders targeted her father, and gets swept up in a quest for gold.

Honestly, I loved it. Kate is such a rare character and, unlike some other YA characters who supposedly want revenge, her lust for vengeance feels real. She tracks them down without remorse:
"See you in hell, mister."
And that's where I'm going, sure as the sun will rise, 'cus I feel nothing. No remorse. No guilt. Not even a sliver of doubt. He deserved it, and I'd do it again.

I loved the unapologetic vengeance. I cheered for Kate. I loved the poker, the journey across this dusty landscape, and the language.

Love does creep in, as promised in the blurb, but it is gradual and welcome. Starting off as reluctant companions, building to humorous banter, and then becoming something more. Thankfully, it didn't detract any nastiness from the story either.

If you like nasty stories with morally questionable characters and an author who is just evil enough to make you genuinely scared for all their lives, then Vengeance Road is a natural choice. Super entertaining and very different to what's out there in YA right now.

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Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
September 22, 2017
More like a 2.75 or 2.5 ish

This was good for what it was I just don't really think it was for me. I found myself drifting often, bored by the subject matter. I've never really encountered Westerns before so I didn't know how I'd react but I was mostly yawning. I don't find the whole Western thing appealing apparently. If you're into that though, I think you might enjoy this!
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,540 reviews9,968 followers
February 27, 2018
The first time I read this it was through Netgalley but I bought the Hardback a few years ago and did a re-read on audio so I could read the second book. I tweaked the old review just a little =)


I am not a big fan of the western genre, but when I read the blurb of this book about a girl going after a gang for killing her pa, I had to read it! There is nothing like a good ole vengeance tale!

The gang that beat and hung Kate's pa while she was out in the field is called The Rose Riders. They are a notorious gang that kills anything and anyone in their path.. they are thieves and low-life scum. They burn the house and that is how Kate realizes something is wrong and runs to see what has happened. As you can imagine she is shocked and devastated when she sees her pa hanging from a tree. She saves what she can from her house, buries her pa and sets out on her horse named Silver to KILL the people responsible.

Make no mistake.. Kate is 18... Kate is good with a gun... Kate isn't out for pleasantries in this world.. Kate is out to kill... those who killed her father will die, or she will die trying.

Kate's father leaves her a letter in a box that she salvaged from their home, in it he tells her if something ever happens to him to seek out a man named Abe in Wickenburg. At this point she knows something is wrong, that these men didn't just kill him for his land. She noticed a journal he kept was missing as well.

She manages to shoot and hurt one of the men on the road. She tracks him to a saloon and ends up taking him out while he is sitting in the outhouse trying to tend to his wound. She tries to get him to tell her who the gang is and where they are at... seems they don't care about leaving men here and there. She doesn't get too much out of him accept the satisfaction of shooting him in the head.

When she gets to Abe's home she finds out he was killed by a kick to the head from a horse a few months before, but the son's have a message to give her. There is another letter for her about what her father did when she was a young and about gold. Well isn't that just great! She is mad that he didn't tell her so she could have helped him keep watch in case anyone ever showed up looking for him.

She eats with the family and goes to head out when she is joined by Jesse and Will. Jesse says they are going the same way to do a cattle run to make money for the family. He also tells her they promised their father they would look out for her. Kate wants nothing to do with this and tries her best to talk them out of it. She just wants to get her job done. Well, you know how men are... they don't listen. So.. of goes Kate, Jesse, Will and Mutt, their dog. And FYI: they have no idea she is a girl, she has herself bound and dressed as a boy and calling herself Nate.

Along the way they make a deal with her to help with the Rose Riders if she lets them have the gold. She agrees as she cares nothing for the gold, she just wants those men DEAD!

Some things go a little crazy in another town after they meet up with the gang, some people die, things get burned down, and they pick up an Apache girl named Liluye that Kate saves. She's going to act as a guide to where they are going.

They are traveling to some mines where she knows that gang is heading. There is a lot of things that happen on their travels. More people die, revelations are found out and it's pretty sad, but the end game is a good one.

Happy Reading!

Mel ♥

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

**I would like to thank NETGALLEY and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.**
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
July 8, 2018
When I were first learning to shoot a rifle, Pa told me that nearly every battle people face is in their heads. If you think you can't do something, you won't. If you believe you can, it's only a matter of time before you will.

this is like True Grit, without all the moralizing

for some reason, i thought this was a middle grade book when i saw it at BEA; a fun, spunky pigtailed girl-western. and now i know what it feels like to be wrong. it lists as YA, but it has definite crossover potential and you could pass it off as adult fiction, were you so inclined.

it's a true western, in all its sweaty, smelly glory.

kate thompson is eighteen years old when she finds her father murdered - hanging from a tree while their house burns to the ground.

yeah, definitely not middle grade.

kate has been raised by her father henry ever since her mother died of tuberculosis. he taught her many important skills like how to shoot a rifle and play a mean hand of poker, and also encouraged in her the more ladylike pastimes like an appreciation for Little Women. and all of her life, he drilled into her that if anything ever happened to him, she was to go to wickenburg and find abe colton, who would take care of her.

and now something has happened.

because it turns out, her father has been keeping secrets from her; secrets that have led to his murder by the notorious rose gang. kate buries her father, packs up the few things remaining from their life together, grabs her stetson, her guns and her horses and sets off to kill every last member of the rose gang.

definitely not middle grade

disguised as a boy, she sets out for wickenburg, calling herself nate. when she arrives, she finds that abe died a few years back, leaving behind his three children - will, jesse and sarah. jesse gives her a letter henry had left for her which spills his secrets and his intention for her to live with abe should his past catch up to him, no matter how old you are when you read this. but abe's not there anymore, and kate/nate's got other plans.

and they all involve bullets.

still disguised as nate, she's frustrated when will and jesse tag along on her journey, claiming they have business in the same direction. she's impatient with their chatter, distracting her from her contemplation of the journey ahead and its grim possibilities

And this is where we differ, me and the Coltons, 'cus for them, walking out of those mountains matters. But I only want to avenge my father's blood. It ain't like I gotta live through it to be successful. Besides, what do I got to go home to anyway - a burned house and no family? I just gotta keep my heart beating long enough to fire my pistol six times. Once for Waylan Rose, and once for each of his remaining crew.

So long as they go down, I don't much care if I go with 'em.

definitely not middle grade

along the way she will both end and save lives, manipulate situations to her benefit, devise a kickass con that ends in the best poker scene i've ever read, and develop an uneasy friendship with an apache girl called liluye. there will be treasure maps, haunted mines, native american folklore, shootouts and more fire, and kate will discover more secrets than she expects. it's a fantastic coming-of-age character study, with growth, acceptance, maturity, and self-reliance. and yessssss, there may be some romantic elements. but it's not at all cheesy, i promise.

kate is a wonderfully determined character. she's fearless and unsentimental about the task at hand, feeling a little remorse when she has to kill someone who is on the lower end of the "deserving it" spectrum, but otherwise totally on board with the whole vengeance thing. she's mildly curious about the ease with which she is able to slip into the role of avenger: I ain't killed before, and it shouldn't've been so easy, but true to the genre, she doesn't spend a lot of time dwelling on it. when terrible things happen, she allows herself ten minutes of crying, then dusts herself off and gets back on that horse. literally.

it's written in a sort of cowboy dialect, and after a while, the use of "i'se" made me cringe, but other than that, this was a completely engaging, well-written western. it's not for the squeamish or the faint of heart, and it is definitely not middle grade, as i believe i have mentioned, but if you are a grown-up who likes grit lit or a teen who likes strong female protagonists, or any combination of the above, this is a must-read.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,638 reviews34k followers
July 29, 2015
I love westerns, and it's about time we got more YA ones. VENGEANCE ROAD has some fun shoot 'em up action scenes, some LITTLE WOMEN love, and a neat surprise towards the end, even though it's a little lacking in the kind of spark and grit and conviction (and humor) that you might want from a story and characters like these.

Still, I admire any author who commits so thoroughly to writing in a dialect so different from her own (and being mostly successful in carrying it off), and I quite enjoyed reading this--it's a nice change of pace for sure! More YA westerns, please.
Profile Image for Rachel E. Carter.
Author 9 books3,518 followers
January 27, 2023
This book was bloody spectacular. I am not a Western girl -I avoid those books and movies like the plague (except Owen Wilson’s “Shanghai” ones). I can’t even explain how speechless I am that a YA western blew me away. This book did what Blood Red Road did for me as a dystopia, and I am utterly in awe. I can just feel how much research and careful precision went into taking all the classic western elements and turning them on their head (). This book was just…. 5 beautiful stars. I want more by this author now. I take it back, I need more. So unique and wonderful and just gahhh, I loved everything about it.

I adore this book so much I can’t even type coherently or waste the time to go back on all my highlighted passages. Let me just say that I love Kate and Jesse and Will and this book was PERFECTION. You want a headstrong girl in a western? This book is it. Read it and find out what I mean for yourself.

510 reviews2,412 followers
September 6, 2015
*09/06: After giving this some thought, I lowered my GR star rating to 3 stars, but this book's still a 3.5 for me!

Vengeance Road is pure blood and grit. This may sound like a cutesy I-wanted-revenge-but-now-I-just-want-you romance based on the synopsis (and were you thinking, Love triangle alert! like I was?), but this book is just full of badassness and kickassery. It's all about revenge, murder, and deception... with a hint of romance.

The action scenes, in particular, were superb. I have huge admiration for authors who don't shy away from all the blood and gore--in which Erin Bowman excelled in doing. She wasn't afraid to kill off characters need it be. I also liked how the characters in this book weren't particularly moral--they were the "shoot now, apologize later" types, which I totally applaud.

Kate Thompson was a sassy but totally respectable character, although I didn't have any strong feelings towards her. I liked her enough most of the time, but there were some parts where I couldn't care less and might've even been slightly annoyed. I have a feeling most readers will love her cheeky attitude.

While Kate's repetitive thoughts on revenge may have slightly bothered me, the actual plot made up for it. I'm one of those readers who enjoy characters going on long journeys and discover shit along the way, which is just what Vengeance Road gave me.

Oh! And I totally loved the dialect, too. I'm a huge fan of those historical books where the narrator uses old-school English with weird grammar. It definitely built up the mood of the whole book for me.

Since I mentioned the main aspects of the book being favorites mine, we can finally go on to discuss my qualms. *clears throat*

I didn't like the romance. OKAY, WAIT, STOP RIGHT THERE. Put your tomatoes aside for now, please.

I know I mentioned on Twitter how I wanted my ship to kiss so bad, and I did. For about the first half of the book. After a while, the love interest's hot-and-cold attitude (by hot-and-cold, I mean sometimes he was shy and sweet, then oddly flirty, then occasionally an ass) made me stop giving a crap. I was just nodding my head and not really caring if they got together or not.

So that's two things I didn't like about the book. There's also the fact that there were a tad too many stereotypical tropes and characters, such as the portrayal of the Indians and the random-man-who-lives-in-the-middle-of-nowhere. It's mostly understandable, though, since we don't really have a wide selection of YA Westerns... yet. Also, they'll probably go unnoticed since they aren't really the main main characters.

But back to the positives! I really loved the ending as well. It was the kind that made you go, "Whaaaa?!" while possibly jumping off your chair and pointing an accusing finger at the book. It was definitely shocking, even if it was sort of abrupt.

Vengeance Road is a book with backbone, recommended for anyone looking for a spunky heroine, lots of action and a hint of romance.

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Profile Image for Tamora Pierce.
Author 106 books83.5k followers
August 18, 2017
I haven't read a regular, old-fashioned cowboy book in a long time, and this one had the double pleasure not only of being written in easy-to-follow dialect, but of having a female hero. Kate sets out to avenge her father's murder, hot in pursuit of a vicious gang of kidnapper-killers who believe her father held the secret to a hidden mine full of a fabulous treasure in gold. Kate only cares about the gold inasmuch as it helps her to catch the killers, but she knows anyone learning of the secret might kill her to find it. As a result she disguises herself as a boy.

That's as far as I can go without revealing spoilers. I can say that Bowman presents a raw and honest picture of the old west, from saloon girls one step from marriage to hardened madams and other saloon girls; with Native Americans who may help or kill, but only for reasons of their own, and with good citizens and vile ones. There are surprises around every bend, and Kate deals with them all in as straightforward a fashion as she can manage. It's a romp and an honest look at a hard way of life.
Profile Image for ☆☽Erica☾☆.
200 reviews675 followers
March 21, 2016





This is a classic western tale, except the roles are reversed and we have badass Kate Thompson on her way to slay her enemies. After her dad is killed for his knowledge of a goldmine (its the late 1800s) Kate sets off to seek revenge and kicks ass along the way.

The characters are as follows:
Kate Thompson:

Our 18 year old, hardcore af protagonist who is fired by her anger and hatred for the men who killed her dad. She originally poses as a boy so she can be taken seriously (because in this time women weren't). She doesn't have any time for second-thoughts or waiting around. She's here to kick ass and does her business.

The Colton brothers:
Jesse- the eventual love interest who's about 20. He is loyal and focused and reliable. He's also hot, but Kate doesn't have time to care about that (somewhat). He is the male head of his household and Kate meets him on her trip and the two brothers join her.
Will- Younger brother of Jesse. Serves as contrasting opinion and sometimes voice of caution/reason.

Lil- BADASS Native American girl working as a slave in a bar until Kate comes along. Then she serves as the groups' guide for some part of the trip. SHE IS SO FUCKING HARDCORE AND AWESOME. She is tied with my favorite character with Kate. She's a really powerful example of a different kind of powerful woman. The author didn't just give us a tomboy, she gave us a earth goddess too and I'm so fucking grateful. She also challenges stereotypes straight in the face, not just by her character, but she literally tells the other characters when they're being racist and calls them out on their shit.

Rose Riders- The bad guys who killed Kate's dad.

In terms of the plot, this book is almost all action and movie-esque. The romance is entwined naturally and doesn't overtake the story in away way.

What I liked most, other than the dope female characters, was the vengeance plot itself. This book didn't hold back. It didn't just leave the anger behind and replace it with acceptance and compassion. (Those do come into play through Lil and her spirituality) BUT mostly it's a hardcore revenge tale that doesn't try to preach something else. It is classic and fulfilling and will somehow motivate you to unearth your dormant power and seek out your enemies in order to teach them a deathly lesson...

just kidding!

but you WILL cheer for the characters and their lack of morality/ yet bravery.

Profile Image for Debbie W..
764 reviews572 followers
September 2, 2022
Why I chose to listen to this audiobook:
1. my GR friend, Holly, recommended it to me (and I trust her!);
2. my hold became available on Libby; and,
3. September is my self-proclaimed "Historical Fiction Month"!

1. not your typical western. The MC is an 18-year-old woman named Kate who is hellbent on taking down the Rose Riders gang after they killed her father, but she also shows a remorseful side when others are unintentionally caught up, sometimes fatally, in her quest;
2. although there's some light romance involved, this story is a hard-hitting, action-packed read; and,
3. it contains authentic dialogue which narrator, Amy Rubinate, pulls off extremely well!

It is extremely difficult to run at full speed when you have just rolled your ankle. Trust me.

Overall Thoughts:
Not a lighthearted YA read, yet right from the start, I was riveted by this exciting, fast-paced action story with a no-nonsense heroine!

If you enjoy stories like True Grit, you should check out this historical fiction western!
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,749 reviews5,291 followers
November 9, 2017
“Sure, sometimes you gotta let things go, but other times you can't till you set things right.”

Going into my first western story ever, I had no clue what to expect. Truthfully, I'm not a tremendous fan of western films, but they tend to follow such specific atmospheric guidelines that I couldn't have imagined a book executing those same feelings. I was wrong, though; Vengeance Road literally feels like you've been transported into a western, from the setting all the way to the manner of speaking the narrator takes on (both in spoken word and her inner monologues).

Essentially, Vengeance Road is a story of vengeance; when Kate comes home and finds her beloved father hanged and her home burned to the ground, she chooses to dress up like a young man and ride off after the gang of rough riders responsible for this crime.

what I liked

“The frontier ain't for the faint of heart, and it certainly ain't kind to women. Sometimes I think the whole world's 'gainst us.”

Kate is a fantastically likable narrator. She's stubborn, heartbroken, and downright pissed off, and nothing's getting in the way of that. Even when she starts to develop feelings for Jesse, one of the brothers she reluctantly travels with, she refuses to let those emotions hinder her even for a moment.

Jesse and Will, the two brothers Kate travels with, are also a really enjoyable duo; they bicker like siblings, but there's no doubting their love for one another, even when one of them inevitably falls into a rant about the other one's idiocy or quirks. On top of that, when they choose to ride with Kate, not knowing she's a young woman, it's made evident that their offer is based on a feeling of moral requirement - not just taking care of her because she's a girl. Even once the truth is revealed, I never felt like Jesse or Will looked at Kate any differently for her sex - a surprisingly feminist view for a couple of late 1800s teen boys to hold.

The action scenes are remarkably well-paced and easy to follow. I find that fight scenes are hit and miss for me in books, but Erin Bowman does a pretty fine job of playing them out for you.

what I disliked

“Gold makes monsters of men.”

Despite this being a really fun story, I don't feel like I ever fully connected with the characters! It was hard for me to feel much emotion for any of them, even when terrible, dramatic things happened. (I really hoped the second book would give me the chance to attach further to them, but the second book is a companion with different characters.)

In the beginning of the book, it's established that everyone (including the narrator) is incredibly prejudiced against the Apache people of the area; in several instances, Kate mentions how terrified of them she is, and essentially plays into the "savages" trope. While she does end up progressing really solidly in this aspect, I almost felt like it was played up a little too much, and it admittedly made me a bit uncomfortable a time or two.

final thoughts

While Vengeance Road certainly wasn't perfect, it was a really fun read in a genre I'd never reached before, and I will be continuing the series for sure. I've got an eARC of the companion novel and will be sharing a review for that one as well!

Content warnings: fat-shaming (unchallenged), racism (sometimes challenged, sometimes not), violence.
Profile Image for Christina.
262 reviews228 followers
December 16, 2019
Read: Nov. 23rd - Nov. 26th, 2015
Re-read: Dec. 10th - Dec. 16th, 2019

5 stars, both times

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, 18 year old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. Along the way she finds a surprising band of allies : a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate's quest for revenge may prove fatal.

This story takes place in 1877, in Arizona. This happened to be my first western and I loved it to pieces! The conversations between everyone was so realistic to the time and place ( in my opinion )...it made me feel as if I was watching a movie rather than reading it and for me, that's the best kind of book. I absolutely loved the MC Kate. She was strong, independent, smart and such a badass! She finds love along the way but never stops and waits or depends on a man.

The story took an unexpected twist at the end with Kate uncovering some hidden truths about her family. Erin Bowman also states in her author's note that this story was loosely based on an old legend centered around the same gold mines that Kate enters. And while Kate and the Colton brothers are fictional characters, many of the people Kate interacts with during her travels once called Arizona home.

I would rec this to everyone, even if you're unsure about the western genre, I'd say to give it a shot! And also, have you seen the books cover?!? Gorgeous!
Profile Image for Dear Faye.
492 reviews2,124 followers
September 9, 2015
"HEY, PARDNER. You don't happen to have a dip there, wouldcha? Yer gonna be in fer a wild, wild ride, Western style."

Did I say that right? Did I sound like a kick-ass cowboy, about to tell a story around a campfire? Yes? ...No? Ah, well.

2015 is definitely the year where Western YA is taking the world by storm. I've already read 2 set in this era - one during the Californian Gold Rush (Walk on Earth a Stranger) and finally, this one, set a little bit after all the gold hooligans have come and gone. And to think there's another one set with a Chinese heroine (Under the Never Sky), which I hear is pretty good, diverse, and character-driven (you bet I'll be reading that one as soon as I can a copy. Chinese heroine + Western setting? I THINK I'M DROOLING). I like the direction YA trends are going; we're finally exploring other settings out there that could provide limitless possibilities, settings that could give original stories, adventures and journeys.

Vengeance Road's premise is something that we definitely have seen before, do note. It's a story of revenge - Kate came home only to find her father hanged for the gold he whisked away from the Superstition Mountains years ago, a fact he kept hidden to protect her from outlaws whose greed for riches have clouded their judgement. Instead of letting go and moving on, Kate has other plans - dark, dangerous, and deadly plans. She wants to chase after the people who killed and hanged her father as there is no other way for her mind to rest easy otherwise. So, armed with her pistols and her new cowboy get-up (because who else would seriously believe a woman could actually do a suicide mission during these times?), she gallops with her mare, Silver, either towards her death or her vengeance.

Like I said, a revenge story. We've all read that before, but what made this one interesting is the setting it was in. We're not in some typical high school full of geeks and nerds and jocks who could lend a helping hand to our band of merry cowboys. We're in the wild, wild west - where towns were made of wood, where saloons were everywhere, where cigarettes were called dips, where battles were settled with Coltons and Remmingtons, where your life could be forfeit in a game of poker, where your strength was valued in how fast you could pull that trigger. I love that instead of getting in the car or taking a plane to get to one state, our cast of characters hop on to their horses and ride the night and days away, camping when necessary, only having each other and their stories and emotions as their companions. This is what made this revenge story more memorable - the uniqueness of the setting, the values and the personality of the characters that have been shaped by their environment.

And the best part is? It's immersive. Just because this is YA and it has eighteen year olds as heroes and heroines don't mean it's some carebear version of that dangerous reality. People die, people get killed, accidentally or intentionally. Our characters get blood in their hands - some they regret, some they relish because it aveges multiple deaths whose only fault were that they were at the wrong place and time when the Rose Riders came upon them. All the shoot-outs, man. So. Cool.

PLUS, THAT DIALECT. If you're someone whose eyes get twitchy at wrong spellings (yer instead of you're, I's instead of I'm) and wrong grammar (ain't instead of aren't), then you might want to proceed with caution cause you brain would likely explode. But in my opinion, it was pretty worth it because the language used felt so very Western and authentic. And come on, it takes great skill to weave a story with this kind of language and make it flow so well. Hats off to you, madam.

One thing that I didn't really like was the romance. So, Kate meets these brothers at Wickenburg who decided to accompany her in her quest of revenge. One of them's Jesse and, suffice to say, he is an ass. A judgemental, hypocritical ass whose sometimes-friendly-sometimes-mean-as-hell attitude made me not care for him nor his brother not one bit. I don't even get why Kate's heart flutters for him, and how she could forgive him for the things he would do to her in the novel. Seriously, the things he did were defintiely ass-worthy. I was not a fan of this ship, and the scenes they had together made me just want to roll my eyes to Kingdom Come.

Other than though, this was really good. This is the first I read from Erin Bowman and it ain't gonna be my last. Here's to hoping other authors will start using other settings, too, and give us stories with extraordinary characters with extraordinary experiences.
Profile Image for Danielle (Love at First Page).
726 reviews621 followers
December 20, 2017
The short and sweet of it: Vengeance Road is pure, fantastic storytelling. It's a fast-paced, adventurous thrill ride from start to finish, with a feisty heroine, a slow burn romance, and a richly detailed setting. Erin Bowman stays true to the spirit of the Wild West, crafting a tale that is as emotional as it is gritty. It has an old-fashioned aura, that "they don't make them like this anymore" feeling. Love, hate, vengeance, forgiveness, greed, lust... sweat, dirt, and tears... kisses hotter than the sun and bullets faster than you can blink. If any book should be made for the big screen, it's this one.

The book starts off with a bang, quite literally. When Kate Thompson rides home to discover that her father has been murdered by the notorious Rose Riders gang, she vows to seek justice and enact retribution. She'll make her heart a stone, she'll fill herself up with nothing but grit, determination, and bitterness, if it means bringing down those who took away the one sure thing in her life. She'd counted on following their trail alone, until she runs into a couple of stubborn cowboys and a young girl who surprises her at every turn. But is there room in Kate's heart for more than the gold promise of vengeance?

I'm going to keep my review short because Vengeance Road is one of those books that you just need to experience. It honestly felt like I was watching a movie. Normally I'm not big on descriptions, but I loved it here because I could picture Kate's journey so easily. It was like I was on that trail with her. Everything from the accents to the action to the clothes had this wonderfully authentic Western feel.

Like any good Wild West story, there's a hefty dose of gold and greed, chases on horseback, and dark family secrets. What Kate assumed was a cold-hearted murder turns into something unexpected and much more sinister. Just as surprising as her father's buried past are the people she meets along the way and the realization that she not only needs their help, but wants it, too. A fun twist? Kate spends a good portion of the novel pretending to be a boy, and she pulls it off better than I ever could. This girl is courageous, fierce, and unapologetic. I loved her tough spirit and her unwavering loyalty to her father. She doesn't put up with much, but she's also kind and cares deeper than she likes to admit. She goes through a lot in this book, but it's great to see a character who changes and grows while staying true to herself.

If there's one thing I would have liked more of, it's the romance. It's subtle and gradual, which is just lovely to see, but we get only a spark of what most definitely could have been a passionate flame. The chemistry between Kate and her love interest is just so good, and he definitely had my toes curling a couple of times. The romance junkie in me wished for a few more scenes of them together.

Vengeance Road is full of grit and heart; I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. With guns and hot cowboys, universal themes and big emotions, a strong heroine and a thrilling finish, why would you ever miss out? Do yourself a favor and keep this historical Western on your radar!

Note: I received an ARC of this book at BEA, but that did not affect my review in any way.

This review can also be found at Love at First Page.
Profile Image for Jodi Meadows.
Author 29 books4,626 followers
February 28, 2015
My official comments:

Gold madness, a good-for-nothing posse, and frontier justice: VENGEANCE ROAD is everything you could want in a Western, best read with an accent.

My unofficial comments:

HOLY COMMAS. I never thought I was much of a Western reader, but I loved this book so freaking much. The characters, the setting, the plot -- all spot on.

Read this book, guys.
Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
801 reviews2,913 followers
October 3, 2023
DNFing this.
Not a bad book, but it's not my thing anymore.
The writing was really good tho, I'm just not interested.

𝐂𝐚𝐬𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐓𝐁𝐑 𝐏𝐔𝐑𝐆𝐄 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐦𝐲 𝐭𝐛𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟕 𝐤𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐲𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐰𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐚𝐭 𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐭 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐦𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐫 𝐈 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐚 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞.
𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐧 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐈'𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐝𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐲 𝐆𝐑 𝐭𝐛𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞.
𝐖𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐦𝐞 𝐥𝐮𝐜𝐤!

Profile Image for TL .
1,882 reviews52 followers
November 11, 2015

One of those books I heard alot about and was immediately intrigued... heard some compare it to 'True Grit' which also sparked my interest but also had me wary (one of my favorite books, the movie was good too).

When I were first learning to shoot a rifle, Pa told me that nearly every battle people face is in their heads. If you think you can't do something, you won't. If you believe you can, it's only a matter of time before you will.

“Money’s supposed to fix problems, not give you more, but I guess life ain’t that straightforward.”

"Poetry don't make yer crops better or keep Apache from raiding yer land. It's just a bunch of flowery words that could mean any number of things depending on yer interpretation. I think it's heck of a lot less trouble to just say what you mean."

"I think of more theories as I try to find sleep, 'cus I ain't fond of it. I talked to Morris plenty in Prescott and never felt like my stomach were in my boots. Something's wrong with me. I gotta drink more water tomorrow, watch how much sun I get. This rough land's doing something to my head."

We start out with Kate's Pa being hanged and her set out to avenge his death. Along the way, she meets up with two brothers who just as stubborn as her and join her in quest, unknowing at first what they are getting into (while she is disguised as a boy at first).

Simple explanation but I'm being lazy :-P.

Couple slow spots but overall this was a lot of fun :) Not a big fan of westerns but if one comes along that sounds interesting, I'm game. I admit, the cover caught my eye first then karen's review convinced me to take the plunge and buy it.

The way the book was written took a bit of getting used to but once I got the hang of the dialogue it was smooth sailing. It's easy to picture everything in your head and imagine being there as Kate continues her quest to track down the gang who killed her father.

I loved how independent and strong Kate was, and how she knew when it was time to give in and accept help. She questions herself a few times along the way but doesn't dwell on it long or let it overwhelm her.

Loved getting to know Jesse and Will as well. I was more partial to Will then Jesse but both are good people. The Apache girl was well done as well, her presence was small and she wasn't long in the story but she made an impact (side note: her name is beautiful). She came and went at the right times, won't say more than that.

The romance is light and in the background, which was a relief to me. Glad as well Kate didn't let her feeling sidetrack her and still got things done. She's someone I would want to have on my side if I were in trouble.

I wasn't really invested as much in the romance but it was sweet in its own way and the ending did have me smiling.

One I will definitely be reading again in the future :) Would recommend, happy reading!
More Review spotlights.. love these girls, give them all a visit (including karen *points up*) :) They say it all very well.

Emily May's review here

Sarah's review here

Jennika's review
Profile Image for Erin.
3,095 reviews484 followers
March 26, 2017
3.5 stars

I won't recount the plot here as the Goodreads description does a superb job of informing readers what it is about. Noticing that previous reviewers had made a lot of comparisons between this book and "Walk on Earth a Stranger," I decided to let many months pass before turning my attention to "Vengeance Road." Although I understand why these books draw such a comparison ( western setting, female protagonist dressing up as a boy, avenging her father's death, gold mines etc.), I do believe VR is the adult big sister to WOEAS.

Vengeance Road carries the vernacular of those early settlers who set out to conquer the frontier. A place where gun slingers strike fear into the hearts of men, women, and children. Ladies of the evening gather for a concert in the local saloon and snuggle into the laps of a man who wants to get richer. Men are hung for trying to backstab another man and his family pays for his foolish actions. It's an unimaginable place where proper ladies and gentlemen from " back East" wouldn't understand.

Into all this chaos and mayhem, steps our main character, Kate. With pistols on her hip and a rifle strapped to her saddle, Kate is stubborn as a mule, charging full speed to find the notorious gang, the Rose Riders, that murdered her father. Despite her growing feelings for one of the men that rides with her, Kate is no shrinking violet. Kate also posses a mouth like a sailor!

I liked this story because it reminded me of the westerns that I used to watch with my paternal grandfather and my mother. Not to mention that it reminded me of the book "Lonesome Dove." So, I really struggle to accept that this has been marketed as YA because it certainly deserves a wider range of readers. Trust me, this story is not for the faint of heart.

Erin Bowman does an excellent job of also immersing the reader into how justice of the West worked(yay for authenticity!). Early on in the book, Kate is placed in a situation where she has to kill a pursuing member of the gang or be killed by him. I am relieved that Bowman never takes her character out of that context and inject any type of judgment on her actions. Nor is there a big ethical debate. So, thanks Ms.Bowman for keeping your story focused.
Profile Image for Brandi.
329 reviews800 followers
July 31, 2015

I’m starting to wonder if I’m doomed to have the worst reading year of my entire life because nothing is working for me!
Here’s something you probably don’t know about me, but I grew up watching westerns thanks to my Dad (Bonanza was my favorite), and my first introduction to audio books were tapes of Louis L'Amour (One For The Mohave Kid is the one I remember most), but I don’t go out of my way to find western based books – and I haven’t watched westerns in probably 20 years now.

My point is that I went into this expecting to really enjoy it and feel nostalgic about my youth and just generally be entranced.

I was not.

I’ve never read this author before so I don’t know if these things are just an idiosyncrasy of hers, but it was really distracting for me to see the grammatical errors throughout. Even in the synopsis the name of the gang is grammatically correct – Rose Riders, but in the book often the word rose is lowercase and only the first name of the leader capitalized. Which also leads me next point in that it constantly looked like it was his last name but then why in the hell would it be lower case. Kate’s horse’s name was always capitalized but the other horses in the story were not. There would be sentences started that weren’t capitalized and there was no reason for it that I could see, and it seems illogical that an ARC would be that rough so close to release.
These things might be easily forgiven for many people but they snagged me every single time and tossed me out of the story. The vernacular was another area in which I was constantly correcting in my head then going back and saying it the way it was written – which, again, leads me to disjointed reading. I feel like this needed more editing, both line and developmental.

There are a few things I did like about it though, like that cover (surprisingly) and there was this scene:
He pauses, lifts his head to look me in the eyes.
“I think we should stop.”
“All right.”
He sits up slow and watches as I start fastening my shirt.
That’s how you do consent, folks! Wouldn’t it be grand if the real world understood this simple concept, too?

The characters had several humorous moments, like Will telling Kate she was dumb and Lil telling Kate she asked permission for something while Kate was asleep. There were other nuggets in here that showed the author understands feminism and I loved that - things like one of the main characters pointing out he’s an adult and makes his own choices when Kate was busy saying things were her fault, other moments in which logic about the plot was stated that made the story more interesting. There was one twist in here I didn’t anticipate and the other big reveal wasn’t shocking, but it was pretty good.

All in all I think there are some great moments in the story but I couldn’t enjoy it properly thanks to the aforementioned errors in grammar and lack of vernacular continuity. If you already love western stories with female main characters (I’m not even sure if it’s unusual to have a female MC for a western – I automatically figure it would be mostly male) then you should give this a shot, especially if you don’t get hung up on details like I do.

Profile Image for Marla Mei.
542 reviews295 followers
September 14, 2015
This review is also posted at Her Book Thoughts!

4.5 stars

I’ve never been fond of the Western genre before but this book just damn well swayed my mind. Vengeance Road is a book that doesn’t shy away from being merciless and gritty. This isn’t some cutesy YA western, no. You want nasty? Nasty is what you’ll get. Kate, the heroine, is out for revenge and her thirst for it shows. She’s badass, ruthless and won’t stop for nothing but at the same time still so kind to the core.

Despite being bloody and brutal, I still found myself laughing at some scenes of the book. I have the secondary characters to thank for that and the banter they shared with Kate because it gives us break from all the blood and grit. And yes, there’s romance but it took a backseat here and it’s so subtle yet it still made my heart aflutter. It’s definitely a pairing that I ship with all my heart.

And of course, it won’t be the west if there are no gun fights, gold hunts and ghost shooters. All these elements just added spirit to the whole wild west atmosphere and made the western feel so authentic and on point and damn, if you don’t read this book with an accent, then you’re doing it all wrong.

Vengeance Road just made me love this genre that I couldn’t care less about before and I’m just so glad that I took a chance on this book.

An ARC was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews842 followers
July 28, 2015
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

I don't like Westerns. At least, I haven't liked the idea of Westerns in the past. I also didn't quite love Bowman's debut trilogy - Taken, Frozen, Forged. However, given that I've read all of the author's published books to date, and I don't read enough Westerns, I thought I'd give this book a try. Maybe it was fate, maybe it was timing - The Quick and the Dead was on TV late one night, and I watched it because I couldn't sleep (I don't watch TV, very rarely). So perhaps I was coincidentally primed for this book - because I loved it!

Kate is bent on revenge after she comes home one day and finds her father murdered - hung from a noose - the house burning. Her father left a note to find a family friend who can help her should he ever die, and Kate will stop at nothing to find the Rose Riders that murdered her father. She strikes a deal with the family friend's sons - help her to Phoenix, and they can reap some serious rewards. But Kate must stop and think - is vengeance worth it?

This is easily my favorite YA Western. I've read another in "recent" times - Relic by Renee Collins - which was good. I really REALLY liked this one though. There are so many awesome elements of this book! This is (in my opinion) Bowman's best novel to date. I enjoyed it so much more than I enjoyed her Taken trilogy.

I feel like Bowman captured Kate really well. A huge difference from the Taken trilogy, because that series was written from Grey's POV (and he's a male). Kate is a likable gal! She is very tough, very independent, very ornery and prickly. Seriously, the girl wants to be left alone at all times. She doesn't like when Jesse and Will (the family friend's sons) tag along to help her find the men (and something else). Kate is prickly as thorns, and there is nothing wrong with that! I liked her so much, and I think Bowman did an amazing job of developing Kate's character.

The same goes for many of the secondary characters. Jesse is the male protagonist. He is the older son of Abe (the family friend), about twenty years old. He has a serious protective streak, as he has been the "man of the family" for years. He is smart and loyal and considerate, and he has a slow-burn temper that is kind of funny, especially clashing against Kate's prickly nature. I like Jesse a lot!

Will is a hilarious guy! He is the humor of the story, and I loved his interactions and role in this book. Liluye is another secondary character that we meet later in the book - she is very smart and has wonderful morals! And then of course, the villain, Waylan Rose. He is ruthless and mean, but not in a fake over-exaggerated Disney way. There is also another villain at work...

There are so many shootouts! In bars, outside of bars, in the trails while on horseback. Bowman definitely got that down. The *feel* of Western culture is alive in this book! There are so many little things, like the Stetsons, the rifles and guns, the dust storm. And then there are the obvious things, like the speech! Bowman has the historical Western accent written phonetically, so for me, it was easy to hear the Western accent! I loved that!

The story goes by so quickly, with nonstop action and plain-old fun. Kate is hellbent on vengeance, and Jesse and Will are determined to get something else out of this adventure (it's something super important, too!). There are scenes when Kate breaks down a little and shows some emotion under all of those thorns. I like that Bowman has written an action-packed, fun Western that also delivers on the feels and friendships.

There is a hint of romance! And no love triangle. Don't get mad (or excited?) if you read that "pair of brothers" phrase in the summary and immediately thought "love triangle". No love triangle. Jesse and Kate are the one pair of this book from the moment they meet each other - though there is no insta-love at all! In fact, Kate and Jesse barely have any physical romance, though you know emotionally that they care about each other. There are little things that Bowman does that shows us the development of the relationship. So wonderfully done - and so much more enjoyable than the romance in the Taken trilogy! Sorry, Taken trilogy.

This standalone novel won my heart! I am so glad I decide to give it a shot, despite two very large things standing in my way (my dislike of Westerns and my so-so feelings towards Bowman's first three published novels). I love that this is a standalone! It wraps up a well, though a touch bittersweet. Just a touch. Not too much though. Very HEA-esque ending. Yay!

What I Did Not Like:

I can't really think of much I didn't like! I wasn't even bored or tired of reading or hateful of any of the characters. This book was awesome!

Would I Recommend It:

I would totally recommend this novel! Says the non-Western-fan! I had a feeling this one would be Bowman's best novel yet, and it really is. Not that the Taken trilogy was horrible - but this book was much better. And it is only a standalone! No waiting and agonizing cliffhangers required. I hear talk of companion novels, so that might be a thing! Even if you're not a fan of Westerns (like me), give this book a chance!


4 stars. Very well done, Mrs. Bowman! I'm glad I took that leap of faith and read this book solely because it had your name on it (I like to read books by authors I've previously read, even if I disliked or felt meh towards the books I previously read). Go read this one, people!
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews1,014 followers
August 15, 2016
3.5 stars

So, Wild West

I am sure every one of you watched at least one western in your life. Or may be you are a fan of westerns and have seen the best of them. I personally am not a fan, but I sure would like a good western about revenge.

Imagine: western and revenge in one book. I haven't read any westerns before and Vengeance Road was my first. And it was a hell of a read!
This book is about revenge, then about more revenge, and in the end a couple more drops of revenge. MC Kate wants to avenge her Da. Revenge is in her blood now, and it substitutes food, rest and occupies every thought in her head. She is a heroine I've never met before in YA.

“Who’d you say you were looking for again?”
I glance up at the bartender. “I didn’t. More whiskey.”
I push the shot glass at him, and he don’t seem too pleased ’bout that. But I got some coin and a vengeance strong enough to cut any throat that tries to cross me right now.

She has only one purpose in life: to kill every one of the men who hanged her da. And she takes her job seriously.
“See you in hell, mister.”
And that’s where I’m going, sure as the sun will rise, ’cus I feel nothing. No remorse. No guilt. Not even a sliver of doubt. He deserved it, and I’d do it again. I’d do it over and over, and I wonder if something’s wrong with me.
I ain’t killed before, and it shouldn’t’ve been so easy.

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.

Kate is one tough cooky. She is not a gentle damsel in distress. She ain't acts like one, not ones in the whole book. She wears trousers, she swears, and she is fantastic. On her journey Kate meets other people (a great deal of them she shoots), she even falls in love, but it's all inessential, because this book is about Kate and her revenge.

It's all you need to know and that the Wild West settings are AMAZING. People back there weren't very smart, but they were cunning alright. And it was one of the primary skills to survive (you know, coyotes and all).

But what I am talking about here is humor. It's simple, but it's somehow fits the settings and, well, it was real fun to read.

In Wickenburg, I switched my name from Ross Henry Tompkins to Henry Ross Thompson.

This book is also has a moral.
Funny how finding the journal and getting rich ruined everything for them. Money’s supposed to fix problems, not give you more, but I guess life ain’t that straightforward.

As I mentioned, our Kate will fall in love. The romance was not overwhelming, because ye know, revenge business and all, but it was quite pleasant and showed Kate's more tender side. Though, she will never - not even at a gunpoint - admit it.
One blasted wink and I got knots in my stomach? A wink from eyes that ain’t never open properly to begin with! Maybe it were a twitch, a squinty flinch or something. Maybe a bug flew in his eye.

This book would make a great movie. I couldn't stop picturing, all while reading, how good this would've looked on screen. The language... I honestly had to stop myself from writing this review in a western manner. I just couldn't help myself. The dialogues were so spicy - I still hear them in my head.

But don't be too relaxed: this book is not all peaches. It has just too much revenge. After half the book, everything just was repeating itself: Kate pursuits bandits, Kate catches and shoots some of them, the rest run from Kate, Kate runs after them and all over again. And not the funny language, and not the amazing settings could safe me from yawning. The pursuit of revenge just bored me half to death, and all this even before Kate killed the bad guys!

I’m starting to wonder if that’s a guarantee with revenge: yer brain ignores all sorts of logic till you see justice achieved with yer own two eyes.

And not even the unexpected twist in the end managed to awaken me. Nah, I just shrugged and went back to sleep. Too much repetitive action killed my curiosity.

But westerns are rare guests in YA, and I sure am enjoyed this one a lot. Vengeance Road has more pros than cons and deserves everyone's attention. It is fresh and funny with amazing language and settings from ol' good westerns. And it's a standalone. Standalone! It's like a dying species these days. So yeah, everything's dandy. Just sit down and read the book!

Profile Image for Sophie.
1,235 reviews445 followers
December 31, 2015
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacted on my view.

This book is one I've been waiting ages for, and as soon as I was approved for it, I had to start it, TBR be damned. Vengeance Road is one of the first Western books I've ever read, and I think it's the first YA of its kind - though Walk on Earth a Stranger is also coming out in September. This book was raw, and real, and the sheer intensity of the events made it appear as if we were actually with Kate and Jesse when everything was happening.

From the very start of the book, Vengeance Road deals with tough, heartbreaking issues. Kate returns home one day to find her father hanging from a tree, and their family home burnt to ashes. From this point on, Kate, pretending to be a boy named Nate, is thrust into a path of revenge, and her only help is in the form of Jesse and Will, sons of a family friend. Over time, and once the boys discover that Nate doesn't exist, and is actually a teenage girl called Kate, they become even closer.

To be perfectly honest, I shipped Jesse and Kate from neigh on their first meeting, and as they interacted more and more, the shipping intensified. Every moment between them seemed believable, and they weren't all lovely dovey - there were times when they argued and never spoke, and others that were so sweet, I couldn't stop smiling. I think one very good thing about this book, also, is that it's a standalone. This means we haven't had to suffer unnecessarily through angst between the characters, just to spread the plot out a bit more.

As I've already said, this book was rough. It was brutal at times in the details, especially those relating to death, and this made it more imaginable, as if it was a movie playing in my head. Considering I pride myself on being able to guess plot twists, I was blown away by this book. The twist towards the end was so unexpected, I was thrown as much as Kate was. However, I'm glad with how this twist panned out in the long run, and with where Kate was on the final page.

Overall, whilst I'd known I'd love this book, I was totally caught unaware on just how enjoyable it was. I'm seriously grateful to HMH Kids for approving my copy, and I definitely need to get my hands on copies of Bowman's other books. Her writing style is fantastic, and I can't to read more of her work. Vengeance Road was an amazing historical YA book, and the amount of research Bowman put into the novel soothed my history student heart. I can't recommend this book enough. Seriously, just read it - you won't be disappointed!
Profile Image for Taylor.
767 reviews422 followers
September 5, 2015

When I seen the cover reveal for this book months ago, I knew I would love it. After waiting months and months (I even pre-ordered this book, which I rarely do), I finally got it in the mail. And within 24 hours of receiving Vengeance Road, I finished it. I could not put this book down. I read it in one sitting and love every single second. Right from the start, I was hooked and I was so sad when it ended.
I loved the main character, Kate. She's exactly the kind of character I was hoping she would be. She was well written and tough but fair. She didn't take any crap and wasn't afraid to shoot people when she needed to.
I really liked how the relationships in this book were well developed and wasn't forced.
I loved the plot of this book and the pace of the story.
Overall, I have nothing bad to say about this book because I loved every second of it. It's exactly what I wanted it to be and more. The second I read the last page, I wanted to start rereading. Not only is Vengeance Road one of my favorites of the year, it's one of my all time favorites. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for TJ.
980 reviews119 followers
May 7, 2016

Why this book?
I thought I’ll give it another try

What I thought

This was on my DNF Self but I found the audiobook and decided to give it another try. I’m so happy I did because I really liked it. Kate is a kick ass heroine and is really easy to root for. I also really loved Jesse even though he disappointed me at one point. There’s romance; it’s subtle, but I still ship it with all my heart. This is full of gun fights and everything else that make a good western. I don’t know if I’ll read a western again but i’m happy I read this one. Overall an enjoyable read!

Profile Image for Drew.
450 reviews501 followers
September 3, 2016
“I got some coin and a vengeance strong enough to cut any throat that tries to cross me.”

I knew I was going to love this from the very first chapter, which was an explosion of violent and gritty awesomeness. My love for this book only grew as I got to know the protagonist, Kate, who was hardcore and had no regrets.

Kate is out for cold hard revenge. Her father was keeping a secret from her: he discovered a gold mine years ago and made a map to it. Now a nasty gang called the Rose Riders have strung her pa up and Kate swears to kill every last one of them.

Kate may seem a bit cold-hearted, but that's exactly what was so awesome about her. She was spirited and filled with such a strong determination that made her totally admirable. And she wasn't so tough that she became unrealistic, either. She was compassionate and determined to bring justice to her father's death.

She was the opposite of a feminine, ladylike girl, though she did develop feelings for her fellow cowboy partner on the road, Jesse. But she never let him distract her from her goal, even though Jesse was one heck of a cute cowboy. She prioritized revenge above everything else.

Kate grudgingly formed a band with Jesse and his brother, Will, and an Indian girl, Lil. There was the perfect amount of romance that grew slowly and steadily. Jesse and Kate were sure something together. They were adorable and their banter made my heart beat wildly.

“And girls danced with the likes of you?” I tease.
“If I managed to bathe first and put on a clean shirt, I couldn’t fight ’em off.”
“Such a gentleman.”
“All cowboys are.”

There are guns, shooting lessons, poker games, saloons, bar fights, drinking, cussing, lies, betrayal, and lots of killing. Not to mention explorations of how deep revenge can go and the cost of gold. It was pure western awesomeness.

Also, after Jesse confesses that he's not the best reader and he doesn't think he could ever finish a whole book Kate tells him this:

“Then you ain’t found the right book yet,” I says. “There’s something for everyone.”

The ending was perfect. If you're in the mood for a revenge plot, a band of cowboys riding through the dusty plains, and a tough-as-nails heroine, pick up Vengeance Road. It's one fast and gritty story set on a road paved by blood.

My Vengeance Road playlist:

I'm So Sorry by Imagine Dragons
Bad Blood by Taylor Swift
Titanium by David Guetta
Beat It by Michael Jackson
Glory and Gore by Lorde
Lonely Boy by The Black Keys
Profile Image for Ju.
104 reviews116 followers
September 25, 2016
Actual rating: 3,5 stars

I never liked westerns.

I remember when I was little (well, when I was around 8-9 years old) my dad would watch a Clint Eastwood movie every.single.night.. And believe me, I WAS SO SICK OF IT! I couldn't stand the dude's face anymore. I never tried watching his movies since then, and always thought westerns were just not my cup of tea.

Until I found this book.

To be completely honest with you, this book was a cover-buy; I still had a vague idea of what this book was about – for example, I knew it was a western. Oddly enough, it didn't scare me away as I would have expected. I thought : a written western? With an eighteen-years-old protagonist? About revenge? HELL TO THE YEAH.


Long story short, this book tells the story of an eighteen-year-old girl, Kate, who finds her dad tortured and hanging from a tree, killed by a notorious and infamous gang called the Rose Riders. Without giving herself the time to properly mourn her late father, Kate immediately mounts her horse and starts off after the Rose Riders, vowing that she'll have her revenge and that she will make her father's killers pay for what they've done. She then discovers that her father knew about and exploited a goldmine and that this is the reason why the Riders targeted him in the first place.

“Gold makes monsters of men.”


I honestly loved the western aspect of this book. The setting – 1877 Arizona -, the saloons, the gangs, the bloodthirst and lust for revenge, the endless plains and cacti, the SHOOTING. Seriously, this was undoubtedly the best part of this book. These people spare NO ONE. Like, this guy is bothering you? He's getting in your way? He stole your money? Cheated on your poker game?


(Oh, no! Not him again....)

Anyway, killing the man pretty much solves the problem, doesn't it ?


Kate is merciless in her quest. She's on a killing spree and will not stop before having killed every single member of the Rose Riders. She's obsessed with it and thinks she won't be able to move on before having properly avenged her father. She's the very opposite of a damsel in distress and wants nobody to help her. She still finds herself (unwillingly) accompanied by two brothers, Will and Jesse, with whom she was instructed to stay with in case anything happened to her father. I really liked her relationship with the two brothers (and, just to make things clear, there isn't any love triangle, thank God) who are very different from each other. They have two distinct personalities : Will is the funny, annoying little brother and Jesse is the preachy, I'm-a-responsable-and-wise-man kind of guy. Don't get me wrong, he's also very funny, but he also had his fair amount of philosophical talk, which always made me smile because you can't really take him seriously with this hilarious westernlike accent of his.

Oh wait, I forgot to mention that!


Vengeance Road is written in freaking slang ! It's written in such a unique and peculiar way, but that's totally what makes the book's charm. I loved this. I'm not English, so at first when I saw that it was written in a cowboy dialect, I thought Oh shitttttttt... This is gonna be sooooo hard to reaaad.


Indeed I was. So, fellow non-native english speakers, fear not : this book isn't difficult to read.


Another thing I enjoyed is Kate's character development. Even though it took her a whole book to realize that, ultimately she understands that killing isn't going to solve anything, that her rage and desire of vengeance blinded her and that without realizing it, she was turning into a person no better than the Rose Riders. That she was becoming a monster.

"I'll be just like Rose. I'll be more bad than good. More revenge than forgiveness. And I wanna be like Pa, a person who believes most people mean well deep down and will help a soul in need."

"I wanna start living again without this boiling, vile blackness indide me, this scar that feels like it's never any closer to healing."

"I wanna move on."


Kate also realizes that she needs help, that she cannot do all of this alone. And for a very independent and stubborn woman like her, I can assure you, that's one hell of an improvement. She had to forget her pride and that's something she would never have done at the beginning of the story.

"I can't imagine sitting here alone, having to face Rose with just my Colt. I know now how foolish it were to think I could take him myself – one lone girl 'gainst a vicious outlaw. Rose is a two-man job at least, a hellhound needing an army to contain him.


If you were wondering: yes. There is a romance. But it's so subtle and very unlike the romance we usually see in YA – which, even though I'm all about the romance in books, can sometimes become more of a nuisance more than anything – and honestly, it was very enjoyable. A very welcomed breath of fresh air.


The reason I didn't give this book a higher rating is because there is a lot of travelling in this book, and I found this to be boring in the long run. It was an enjoyable book, but it didn't blow my mind or anything. I think a fan of westerns would probably enjoy this a lot more than me because I obviously don't know much about the Wild West, but that doesn't mean an ignorant like me wouldn't enjoy it !

I definitely recommend this book if you're a fan of Clint Eastwood's movies, or if like me, you're just curious to see how a written YA western would turn out .
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,922 followers
November 28, 2015

Vengeance Road, Erin Bowman's unique foray into young adult western genre can only be described as a success. As the author’s note clearly explains, the highly anticipated project was something Bowman had brewing for years and that much forethought was evident from every page. Vengeance Road is dark, violent, gritty and honest, all the things I’ve come to appreciate in YA fiction above all else.

After the violent death of her father, Kate is a girl set on revenge, going against a much stronger enemy with very little chance of survival. She isn’t afraid to kill or be killed and there’s little else on her mind as she chases a group of dreaded outlaws across the country. Along the way, she meets up with the family of her father’s old friend and she learns the extent of her parents’ deception. Brothers Jesse and Will join her on her journey and complicate her life further with their dreams of gold. Still, Kate is determined to rid the world of her father’s killers no matter the cost.

Bowman didn’t pull any punches in the violence department, nor did she try to leave Kate’s hands clean through her adventure. She kills a person in the very first chapter and just keeps on killing from there. She also makes some mistakes along the way, and some of them cost people their lives. There are times when her actions are not just morally questionable but clearly very wrong, and yet we can’t help being on her side.

I have to confess that romance didn’t really work for me because it appeared to be born out of convenience and proximity, and not genuine affection and understanding, but luckily it doesn’t take up much of the book at all and I was able to live with it. Both Kate and Jesse stomped all over each other and had very little consideration for one another, and yet they were both so very forgiving when I wouldn’t have been.

Another thing I would have done differently was to put the author’s note at the beginning of the book. I would have enjoyed it even more had I known beforehand that some of the characters were actual historical figures. Learning it after reading had me scrambling to remember and separate fiction from fact. Other than that minor detail, which isn’t Bowman’s fault at all, Vengeance Road is a very worthy foray into this little explored genre and it stands as proof that Bowman is a splendid author with so much more to give.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.
Profile Image for Paige  Bookdragon.
938 reviews612 followers
April 28, 2016

I asked for vengeance.What I got is so much better.


I love it when a book promises something and it delivers more than you could possible imagine. Vengeance Road is a story with grit, blood and a hell bent on vengeance heroine who doesn't give a fuck about propriety.

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 I really love about this book is that the heroine is the type of girl who is not easily swayed by good looks and money. From the book cover up to the blurb, the book is telling us about how her journey for revenge and that's what happened.

I'm tired of reading books where something was supposed to happen and it didn't happen because some hot dude just arrived and the main character's focus went kaboom.


But don't worry. We don't have that in here. Kate is a badass who knows how to shoot and is not afraid to use her gun.


The world building is amazing and the author's way of writing makes the story more appealing. I'm not usually a fan of Western stories (this is my first YA western book) and I'm happy that it did not disappoint me.

I can talk more about the Colton Brothers, Lil, the Rose Riders and everything else but that would be unfair to those who haven't read this yet. If you're done with this book, let me know and we'll fangirl so hard.

“That sounds real nice, boy,” he says. “Now for the love of God, lower that damn pistol.”
“All right,” I says.
And I do.
Right after I shoot him through the skull.

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