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.