Gritty Wild West || Audiobook Review: Vengeance Road

I was looking for an audiobook to get me through work one day, and I found Vengeance Road waiting to be borrowed. I follow Erin Bowman on Instagram and love all of the writing advice she gives, so I thought I’d give this book a shot. So glad I did.

Title: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genres: YA Historical-Western

Official Synopsis

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.


I’m not usually one for revenge stories—or westerns, for that matter—but I was really drawn to this story. It’s so different from what I normally read, and I wanted to read something different. I definitely got that. From the very first minute, I was hooked. The action is non-stop and fun. There’s betrayal and romance, shoot-outs and gold mines. It was everything I could possibly want.


I think the reason I don’t have much to say about the plot is because this book is largely character-driven. There is a clear plot, full of twists and turns and everything in between, but the heart of this novel is the characters.

Kate’s father was murdered in cold blood, and she is determined to get revenge. She’s stubborn and single-minded, and I could not help but root for her. She has every reason to be angry, every reason to leave everything behind. But I also loved her character arc. Her growth is subtle, but so significant.

The other characters, Jesse and Will, were nuanced and dynamic as well. I liked how they played off of Kate’s character—they tried to push her to do better, to be better, even as she was pushing them to do the same thing. Their banter, especially is to die for.

There is a romance, but it’s slow-burn and doesn’t overshadow the rest of the story, which I really appreciated.


The research that went into this book is crazy. I felt like I was in Arizona while I reading this book. The details were completely immersive and gritty. Erin Bowman doesn’t back down from the dirty details of this time. The characters even speak in an old western accent (which the audiobook narrator pulled off flawlessly, by the way).


Speaking of the audiobook, this book was so much fun to listen to. Every voice is distinct, every emotion bleeding out of her voice. I would highly recommend listening to it.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Need a gritty, fun, fiery western story? This is definitely the book for you. I loved this book, and I cannot wait to read more of Bowman’s writing.

Do you know of any other YA westerns I need to know about?

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