Monday, October 30, 2017

ARC Review: Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman

Title: Retribution Rails
Series: Vengeance Road #2
Written by: Erin Bowman
Published: November 7, 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

(Amazon / Goodreads)


When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece's path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. *****

I loved Vengeance Road. It was one of many YA Westerns a few years ago that I thoroughly enjoyed. It's a rare fad that when it's passed I still want more and that is Westerns for me. I still can't get enough of them and so I was super excited to here that a companion to Vengeance Road was coming out. And seriously, it was just as good.

One of my favorite things about this book is the way that it explored the historical setting. In this book we are taken ten years into the future where the "Wild West" is a little less wild and a little more settled and technologically advanced. But it was no less interesting. There was just as much great historical fiction feels to it as we were immersed in a world of train robberies, outlaws, and homesteaders. I could perfectly visualize everything and see it in away that made the setting and book really come alive. Plus once again Erin Bowman included slang and the manner of speaking that was used at the time which not only helped with characterization but also helped build the world and develop the setting. That's what this book did really well. As a fan of historical fiction, I really enjoyed the setting of this book.

The plot of Retribution Rails was just as immersive and interesting. The Old West is such an interesting period of history and you almost can't go wrong as far as the plot goes because there is bound to be plenty of exciting things like shoot outs, train robberies, narrow escapes, and many more. But I think a lot of times the stories can feel like it's the same old same old. And while this one was little bit more on the traditional side as far as Westerns go, it was still really interesting. The plot really developed in a way that had me always guessing. It kept me on the edge of my seat and surprised me more than once by the end. It was definitely a thrilling and engaging read.

But that being said, I do think that the pacing was a little slow. I feel like I'm constantly saying that books take their sweet time before getting interesting so maybe this just comes down to a personal preference thing. But for me, I want a book to really hook me in the first 50 pages or so. And while I was interested in finding out what would happen next I wasn't really hooked until halfway through the book. I feel like the beginning was just a lot of exposition and I wanted to get more into the plot. Because the plot was really good.

The best thing about this book, however, was the characters. I LOVED the characters in Vengeance Road so finding out that this was a companion novel had me a little nervous. With companions you really need to be able to connect with the new characters so you don't find yourself missing the original ones, unless they are all involved in the book. Erin Bowman was able to do both in this book. The first half of this book we got to know Charlotte and Reece. For both of them things have not been easy. But Charlotte has big dreams despite what is expected of her and I respected her for that. She is determined and smart and I really wanted her to succeed. Reece however wants to change his situation for other reasons. He is an unlikely outlaw who isn't about that life. It made his incredibly empathetic and I wanted him do just that. They both have great developments throughout the book. Erin did a good job in balancing character driven and plot driven in Retribution Rails.

On the whole, this was a fantastic read. I honestly didn't expect to like it as much as Vengeance Road and that is exactly what I did. It had a fantastic historical setting, a thrilling plot, and likable characters that you wanted to succeed.

I give Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you liked the first book in this series then definitely check this one out. You will not be disappointed by what is next and you will love the new (and old) characters. And if you haven't read this series and you like historical fiction or want a thrilling book with an interesting setting then check this one out.

Have you read Retribution Rails? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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