19 September 2015
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
"Pa's right, [gold] does make monsters of men. And women. Cus while I don't want the riches, I want that gang dead, and I ain't quitting till each of ems as cold as that bastard in the outhouse."
I'm not going to lie, I thought this novel was going to floor me. The cover alone promises a roaring good time with the rustic western style, the hand guns and, oh yeah, the human skull. Plus, the name has the word vengeance in it, which is a pretty good indicator of a plot riddled with shootouts and dead bodies. Heck, even the synopsis proved enticing:
When her father is murdered for a journey 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...
Now, don't get me wrong, Vengeance Road has its moments to be sure. There is one surprising twist that I did not see coming at all. Then there is another (the one at the end) that didn't catch me unexpected at all. There were more than a few less the subtle clues placed throughout the book leading up to it that I caught on to with suspicion. And there are a few bar clearing western styled shootouts.
But even so, Vengeance Road just feels underwhelming. The plot feels slow in certain places while Kate and her rag tag band are trekking across the wild west. Bowman tries to make up for the lulls in action during the trek across the plains by filling them, unfortunately, with some less than necessary young adult romance drama, which this novel definitely could have lived without. I will say, though, that every time I start to tire of the lull and the romance, Bowman goes and throws wrenches in the plot that catch my attention all over again.
All and all, it isn't nearly as kick butt exciting as I thought it could be, but it's a fun little read. For a story built on family secrets, heaping piles of gold, and a revenge murder spree, I have to say the writing was a little light. I never really buy into Kate's character, which is a sign that perhaps she isn't developed in the right way for this type of western styled story. But young adult western novels are hard to come by - this might actually be the first I've read - so if you like that style, go ahead and check it out.