I fell in love with reading when I was thirteen years old, gripping Kenneth Oppel's book, Airborn, in my palms.
I don’t think I ever hated reading like many of my peers in high school, but I know I didn’t love to read until I was thrown into Matt and Kate’s story.
It was a whole new world to me; a world full of pirates and airships and unknown creatures lurking in the trees. I couldn’t get enough of the adventure, and I still crave those books more than any other.
I wasn’t going to read Vengeance Road.
I noticed the cover and thought it was stunning, but I wasn’t sure if the story would interest me. My friend, Alison, text me to tell me she was in the middle of reading it a few months ago. A few days later she let me know she finished, and she said I had to buy it and read it for myself. I bought it right before Christmas and wrapped it up and tucked it beneath my tree. I was in the middle of reading My True Love Gave to Me. But, gosh, had I known I would have felt this way about Vengeance Road I would have ripped off the bow and devoured it in one sitting.
Vengeance Road is the most fun adventure I have been on in a very long time, because, and here’s the thing, it’s so, so tough. Kate doesn’t care who is in her way on her road for vengeance. I don’t know if this story would have worked if Kate had not been as strong as she was; if she hadn’t been strong enough to kill. She is the toughest heroine I’ve read since Delilah Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic. She isn’t afraid to take out anyone who stands in front of her, and I loved it. I loved it, because Kate doesn’t want or need or care about being saved. I loved it, because from the first page you are immersed in this story. You are jumping over roofs and shooting at gangs and racing away on horses with Will, Kate, and Jesse.
“How fast are you really?” I says, changing the focus.
I nod to his holstered Remington's. “How fast?"
A devilish smile flickers ‘cross his face. “Gimme a target."
“That flower,” I says, pointing to a yellow bloom atop a prickly pear ‘bout twenty paces off.
Before I even lower my arm, Jesse draws his pistol and fires.
And I get so caught up when I’m reading a story that takes me on a wild chase.
“Alley ahead!” he shouts, without slowing. He soars over it, landing on the opposite roof and skidding down the pitch a few feet before he catches himself. I follow but land funny. One ankle rolls. Pain shoots from my heel to my hip. I go down on my rump hard and start sliding, jerked to a halt only when Jesse grabs me at the wrist.
I think I loved Will and Jesse and Kate so much because they took care of each other. They tumble down ravines, guns blazing, just to get to each other. To get the bad guys.
I peer round the boulder. The gang’s scrambling for cover and firing blindly toward the ridge, but Jesse’s bolt upright. He darts for the Rider’s camp and roots through the saddlebags on their burros.
“Jesse!” I shout.
He finds his pistol belt, slings it on. Then he turns on the still-scattering Riders and unleashes his bullets like a demon.
Erin Bowman is an amazing storyteller, and I'm so glad she took me on this adventure. I'm so glad this is out there in the world.
And I wish it hadn't ended, but I know all good stories have to.