Home / Book Review / YA in the Wild West | Book Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

YA in the Wild West | Book Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road must read Wild West adventure!

Book Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

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vengeance road erin bowman book review ya

Title & Author: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Genre: Young Adult – Historical Fiction, Western

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Series: Standalone

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“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.”

Guns Are A-Blazin’

America has a long-lasting obsession with the Gold Rush era and with the Wild West. It’s one of those things in our history that can be constantly re-imagined and therefore perpetually interesting.

This year, I’ve read two books set during this time – Vengeance Road and Walk on Earth a Stranger. Both are special in their own ways, and I especially love the former.

In Vengeance Road…

erin bowman vengeance road murder

….except in Arizona instead.

The story is told by Kate, who is seeking justice for the murder of her father, and the novel includes her dialect.

I’m always a bit nervous about dialect, but in Vengeance Road it added authenticity as well as character. I noticed it so much at first, and then quickly adapted to it.

Kate is the type of heroine who makes both an emotional and physical journey. She and the people she meets along the way are filled with so much pain and they all have to figure out a way of coping. The Wild West was a really dangerous time and definitely not as glamorous as it appears in movies and TV; I was glad to see that represented here.

Vengeance Road is just plain fun to read. I loved all the riding of horses and camping out and saloons and outlaws. This book is just the best.

BONUS: Many of the places and people in the book are based on actual historical events. Which just makes everything that much more awesome.

Note: There are some deaths and wounds described in some detail throughout the story, but I never thought is was overly gruesome or graphic way.


I am so impressed with this book. There was action and adventure but also reflection and growth. If you’re looking for a historical YA adventure, you must pick up Vengeance Road.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • AnneBennett

    It sounds a bit like True Grit, at least the vengeance part. Your thoughts on the comparisons?

  • Great review! I have the ARC for this one. It isn’t my usual style, but I have heard great things about it.