~A big thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an ARC~
How is it already November?! I feel like this year is flying by, and now with less than a week to go before Retribution Rails hits the physical and digital shelves, I figured there’s no better time to share a bit about my first reactions, general thoughts, and overall opinions of the book here on my blog. So without further ado, my non-spoilery review of Retribution Rails:
I’m gonna get this out of the way because we can’t not talk about it: the cover of Retribution Rails is absolutely stunning. First with Vengeance Road, and now with the equally amazing cover that is Retribution Rails? Let’s be honest, Erin Bowman has struck gold in The Mine of Cover Art.
I was so excited to get an eGalley of this book, and as soon as I got my hands on it I took well over a hundred pictures, then decided to make some coffee and dive in. But guys, I made a rookie mistake with this one: I started this book just a few hours before bed and stayed up reading until sometime after 3am? I think? I didn’t have it in me to look at the clock by the time I actually went to sleep. Retribution Rails just kicked off with the action and never really slowed down.
Needless to say, as soon as I started I was hooked. Some of that has to do with the setting: Set 10 years after the events of Vengeance Road, this installation allows us to explore more of this Wild West that we were initially introduced to in Vengeance Road, but one that has expanded and modernized throughout the decade. I thought this book was a breath of fresh air for multiple reasons, the setting being one of them. I’ve personally not found a lot of YA set in the good ol’ Wild West, so I was excited to see where Erin would take this series next.
I wanted to avoid playing the comparison game but I have to be honest; I enjoyed Retribution Rails a lot more so than Vengeance Road. I think the Wild West setting in this series is exciting and intriguing, but what set this book apart for me were the characters. Charlotte is witty and ambitious, fighting to be taken seriously and make her break into the world of investigative journalism like her role model, Nellie Bly (can I just take a second to say how much I love this?). Reece is a Rose Rider who wants nothing more than to be truly free, and is determined to change his future. They’re both likeable, their feelings relatable, and are working through their own problems and are ready to put up a fight for what they want. Following their stories and seeing their frenemy relationship fall into place was so much fun, and I liked that there was more of a focus on each of their own journeys of personal growth throughout the novel.
There were some throwbacks to the events of Vengeance Road that I really enjoyed, mainly because I thought it was neat to see how the aftermath was handled and how the events were seen by the rest of the world. I felt like Erin did a good job of handling the transition between the two books; she was able to keep in touch with elements from Vengeance Road while letting these new characters have their own narrative.
Overall, I was really pleased with this novel. It was just a lot of fun, packed with the tropes you love to see in a western, and with characters you can’t help but root for!
TL;DR: I thought this was a fun companion novel and strong follow-up to Vengeance Road. I love reading a good Western, and I liked seeing Erin’s take on the transcontinental rail road this time around. Along with historical Wild West setting, I thought these new characters were super likeable, and brought this novel to life. If you liked Vengeance Road ( or, honestly, even if you didn’t), I’d recommend giving this one a try!
** I received this book as an eGalley in exchange for an honest review