Vengeance Road, by Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road

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.

It’s time to reveal a secret: I didn’t know what Vengeance Road was about or where it took place. I only knew that Harry Potter fangirl, Erin Bowman wrote it, and it was gonna be an awesome western. I sometimes like westerns. It’s kinda hit-or-miss. I saw VR on NetGalley, and was all “mine!” (Think the birds from Finding Nemo.)

So I joined the VR Posse, got some cool swag, then found out what the story was about. It takes place in 1877, and happens “out my back door.” I’ve lived in the Prescott area for eighteen years, and Erika was born and raised here. She even moved to Wickenburg when my job transferred me there for a year. VR takes place in both these locations and moves to White Tanks, where I’ve camped at a few times when Anthony was in Cub Scouts.

Anyway, here’s my review, and keep in mind that my very few criticisms would be missed by something like 97% of readers – I only know because I live in the area. There be minor spoilers here, so keep that in mind. Let’s start with my complaints: In the paperback, each chapter begins with this faux-cursive font that is sometimes hard to read. It’s no big deal because only three or four words are formatted that way. But, there is a letter from to the protagonist that is a page and a half of this font. Instant headache. If you’re reading the electronic version, just override the font, and you’re good to go.

The novel is written with this old-west drawl, which is cool, and the dialogue is fun to read, but there is an Indian scout that seems to speak perfect European English. Not a major gripe, but it happened, and I’m calling Erin out on it. The last complaint I have is there are some factually inaccurate events during the story. Once again, no biggie, I only know them to be incorrect because I live there.

Now on to the stuff Erin got right: everything else. The story was fun to read, I knocked it out in two sittings. The characters are completely believable, and the events happened pretty much as if a few Arizona historians said it would’ve happened. I know Erin came to Arizona and saw the sights, which is unfortunately rare in writing.

The action was taut, and exciting. The stuff that happens betwixt the action are thoughtful and built on the rich history that Arizona has to offer. The sexism and racism of the time is handled tastefully, and it almost becomes a character of its own.

Vengeance Road will appeal to fans of westerns, young adult, and adventure. When it comes out on September 1st, you better get it, or there’ll be trouble.


Erin grew up in rural Connecticut, where she spent most of her childhood telling stories. It is rumored that her first words were not “Mama” or “Dada,” but “Once upon a time.” In middle school, when kids were going off to sleep-away camp for the summer, Erin was attending writing camp and penning short stories. She studied web design (and minored in Creative Writing because she couldn’t stay away from stories) at the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York. After several years working in advertising and designing websites for various brands, she moved from Boston to New Hampshire, where she now lives with her family and writes full-time. When not writing, Erin can often be found hiking, geeking out over good typography, and obsessing over all things Harry Potter. She drinks a lot of coffee, buys far too many books, and is not terribly skilled at writing about herself in the third person.


About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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