Format: E-Book, 384 pages
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Westerns
REDEMPTION IS NEVER FREE
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.
Retribution Rails, by author Erin Bowman, is the companion novel to Vengeance Road. Retribution Rails is a young adult western with historical aspects that features a train robbery, shoot outs, chases, and plenty of drama. The story takes place 10 years after the ending of Vengeance Road. It features two new characters in 18-year old Reece Murphy, and 16-year old Charlotte Vaughn. For the past 3 years, Reece has a virtual prisoner of the Rose Riders.
He even has a nickname, the Rose Kid that folks in the West have given to him due to his association with said gang. 3 years ago Reese witnessed the shocking murder of the family who had taken him in and treated him as though he were family. In large part because of a coin that was given to him 3 years ago by a gunslinger, Reece is still alive and not dead like the family. But, because of that coin, Luther Rose, brother of Waylan Rose who we met in the first installment, is now searching for the gunslinger who gave Reese the coin.
Reese has only one agenda; find said gunslinger so that he can finally gain his freedom from Luther & his Rose Gang and get on with living his own life for once. Meanwhile, Charlotte is chasing a story a week after her father died. Against the wishes of her mother and her uncle, Charlotte has chosen to attempt to become the next Nelly Bly. In case you weren't aware, Nellie Bly was a real American journalist who was widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days. Instead of getting her big break, Charlotte encounters the Rose Gang & Reese on the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Instead of a story about trains, Charlotte becomes part of an even bigger story. A story that will lead Charlotte to meet Kate Thompson, who is now married to Jason Colton, as well as trying to understand who Reese really is. This is a story that alternates narratives between Reece and Charlotte. It is a story that encompasses a much more modern Arizona than we saw in the previous installment. Trains play much more of a story than the previous installment and that goes toward historical accuracy that trains became the thing that people couldn't avoid.
Bowman once again doesn't hold back when it comes to sexism, racism, bigotry, and the atrocities that were committed in the western territories like Arizona. I do appreciate that asset of her writing. If you think Kate and Jesse are just tertiary characters this time around, you'd be 100 percent wrong. I think it was a brilliant move on Bowman's part to revisit Kate and Jesse and see what they've been up to the past 10 years. Without spoiling anything, one could say they have been waiting for their past to catch up to them, and once Reese and Charlotte enter their lives, they end up being a larger part of what eventually happens, and how the story plays out.
I loved seeing Kate again, and Jesse as well. I loved how much they haven't fallen out of love, but love has strengthened their bond. Kate hasn't changed much in 10 years except for one tiny aspect which I won't spoil. She's still a badass. She still watches her back. She's ready for whatever comes for her and Jesse. I loved Charlotte. I loved how she wasn't a mild manner reporter who ran away at the first sign of trouble but chased after it and stood her ground when trouble tried to make a mockery of her life as well as her mothers.
There really isn't any romance of to mention between Charlotte and Reese. There is too much between the characters which takes a long time before they can even trust each other with their own safety. Reese is a character who is carrying a whole lot of baggage from what he's seen and done the past 3 years. He doesn't believe in redemption. He doesn't believe he can be saved by anyone. You will benefit from reading Vengeance Road first before you get to this book. There is quite a bit of background information that has everything to do with why Kate and Jesse are living where they are and why they are looking over their shoulders ready to bolt in a moments notice.