“But the hurt fades with time. You always feel it but it becomes a duller sting, ‘stead of sharp. Course, that’s assuming you don’t ride the road of vengeance.”
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.
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & HMH Books for Young Readers
READ THIS BOOK IF:
- You want to be transported back in time to when yellow-bellied outlaws, gold prospectors, and good old-fashioned gunfights were an everyday occurence.
- You are looking for a fiery, ballsy female protagonist.
- You DON’T want a romance-centric story.
- You love Westerns.
- This was my very first YA Western (I think this is sorely lacking in the genre). Immediately I was drawn in and teleported back in time. The dialects, the phrasing, mannerisms, everything was delightful old-fashioned and colorful.
- Kate is not your typical female lead for a Western. She’s certainly not a demure young girl looking to get hitched. Kate is deadly with her Colt and Winchester, she wears pants, binds her body so that she can pass as a man, and doesn’t take threats from anyone, this girl can hold her own with the best of them. Kate is on a quest for vengeance and is not afraid to kill to make things right. She’s fierce, brave, independent, and doesn’t need anyone to hold her hand. Nothing will defeat her. Despite all the danger (and there’s a lot) she goes in guns blazing. Kate’s love of Little Women endeared her to me.
- Lil, the Native American girl who plays a critical part to their survival has some of the most compelling stories about folklore and perspective on the White Eyes (white men) who took over the land. The bigotry against Mexicans, Native Americans and the constant pointing of fingers while taking away rights was eye-opening, especially for those who know the history. Reading it in history books and having the experience through these characters was unbelievable 🙂
- The mystery of the journal, the greed for gold, and the sheer violence brought the scenery home. Scoundrels, ladies of the night, outlaws come together in saloons, bringing life to the past.
- The Rose gang is violence, sadistic, and heartless. They’re fueled by greed and their hunger for gold. Anyone who gets in their way is taken out and tortured. Some scenes are graphically violent and easy to imagine. You’ll want to kill him yourself.
- Some sections seem pieced together and randomly thrown in.
- It’s kind of remarkable how often they’re able to escape full on gunfire unscathed.
- The back story for many of the secondary characters was largely absent. Characters are fleeting and just when they start to get interesting they disappear.
- Will and Jesse, huge characters have brief moments of revelry that showcase their personalities and then, gone. Their story, their lives as ranchers, cowboys, their parents, etc., it’s all mentioned but not really expanded upon. It was hard to connect to either of them. When things go downhill, what should have been a critical, emotional moment was flat.