cover image Vengeance Road

Vengeance Road

Erin Bowman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-544-46638-8

In a tale set in 1877 and inspired by the legend of the Lost Dutchman, Kate Thompson sets out on a quest for revenge after her father is strung up by outlaws; disguised as a man, she gets caught up in two brothers’ hunt for gold in the Superstition Mountains of the Arizona Territory. Bowman (the Taken series) crafts an unflinchingly bloody tale of the Wild West, with flesh-and-bone characters she doesn’t hesitate to obliterate with a bullet. Each plot twist—and there are many—is purposeful, driving Kate toward her goal while allowing her to grow, alternately showing a steely nerve and a compassionate side. In Jesse, Kate finds a perfect foil, and their friendship, marred by lies and betrayal, is the stuff of reality rather than folk legend. Kate’s narration, peppered with phrases like “I says” and “it weren’t,” is initially jarring, but the driving force of her story quickly vanquishes any stumbling over her diction. Kate’s pursuit of the murderous Rose Riders, intertwined with gold-rush greed driving men to madness, makes for a thoroughly engrossing read. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Sept.)