(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: Retribution Rails
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 1st 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Westerns, Young Adult
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.
Welcome to the Wild West ala Erin Bowman! I admit it – I was a bit hesitant on this one only because Westerns typically aren’t for me but I wanted to give this one a try and boy, am I glad I did. I loved every minute of this one and as usual, I will try to do this spoiler free.
The book starts out with a bang and I was immediately pulled into Kate’s story. When her father is murdered, she goes on a hunt to find the men who killed him as well as the gold mine that seems to be the reason behind his death. To do this, Kate disguises herself as a boy and heads to the only place her father told her to go if something happened to him…Abe Wickenberg.
When Kate gets to Abe’s farm, she finds out Abe won’t be able to help her and instead of sitting around and doing nothing, she makes the decision to head out and find the gang who destroyed her life on her own. On her way, Kate is chased down by two of Abe’s boys, Jesse and Will. They have their own story and even though Kate really wants to be on her own, she sees the logic of traveling as far as necessary/possible with Jesse and Will. Kate tries to keep her distance from them because she is still trying to pass herself off as a boy (they know her as Nate) and she doesn’t want them to know anything different.
I liked Kate. She isn’t someone who will sit around waiting for things to happen to her and she is definitely willing to walk into danger if she thinks it will help her accomplish her goals. It also makes her a little reckless but don’t think that this in any way means she isn’t smart. She uses her head and even though she doesn’t always choose correctly, she is always willing to take action. And even though she can shoot and puts on a front like things don’t bother her and she doesn’t want anyone around her, it is clear that isn’t truly the case and that is just another of those things that make this character likable.
Jesse is the one that Kate is drawn to and he has a backstory that will make you want to hug him. As the oldest son, Jesse feels a lot of the pressure of making sure everyone is taken care of and he takes it personally when he fails. As the story progresses, this becomes very clear and some of the things that happen weigh heavily on him. This doesn’t mean he is perfect but he is someone who tries to do the right thing.
The secondary characters are well done too. Will is Jesse’s brother. He is the talker and adds a bit of levity to the story. He cares about his family but he wants what he wants and he also isn’t afraid to tell Kate things that will help her understand why Jesse is the way he is. Liluye (Lil) is the Apache that ends up traveling with the group – definitely not without a bit of anger from Jesse but in the end, she is a great (and important) addition to the group.
As they head out, they hit a number of snags and ultimately they all make a deal that will hopefully get everyone what they want – a bit of gold and some good, old-fashioned revenge. Things are definitely not easy and believe me when I say, this book is gritty and there is plenty of death along the way…as I imagine it would have been.
As usual, I don’t want to give anything away with this story so I’m not going to – hopefully this isn’t too vague for you. I will say that Bowman creates this world of danger and isolation and I felt it all. Even though Kate is with these boys, she is still very much on her own and as she begins to find out more about her family, it isn’t exactly what she expected.
If you are looking for a story has a lot of action, a bit of deception, and definitely some characters that will keep you turning the pages to see what is going to happen next for them, consider checking this one out. I couldn’t put it down and it has made me rethink saying I don’t like westerns because that isn’t really true now.
Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.