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Retribution Rails

Review

Retribution Rails

Gunfights! Romance! Action! All this and more can be found in Erin Bowman’s RETRIBUTION RAILS, the companion to 2015’s VENGEANCE ROAD. Bowman, also the author the dystopian sci-fi Taken trilogy, offers readers something quite different in this two-book Western saga of revenge and sacrifice that will have readers racing to the end. The best part about RETRIBUTION RAILS is that you don’t have to read the first book to understand this one (though I would highly recommend it). It is a companion novel, so while you will see characters and problems from VENGEANCE ROAD, it won’t be confusing to only read RETRIBUTION RAILS.

Told from two contrasting perspectives, RETRIBUTION RAILS follows Reece Murphy, an infamous member of the notorious Rose Riders, a gang of outlaws that has wreaked havoc on the Arizona area for decades. Called the Rose Kid, Reece is one of the most feared members of the gang. Reece harbors a secret, a debt that must be paid and a dark history that, if he’s not careful, could be more dangerous than the gang itself.

"Fast-paced, unique and gritty, RETRIBUTION RAILS takes readers into some of the darkest corners of the old West and shows the light that can still be found there."

Charlotte Vaughn, the novel’s other narrator, dreams of being a journalist. Since the death of her father only weeks ago, Charlotte’s life has fallen apart. Now Charlotte must uncover the story of a lifetime to save her mother from the clutches of her power-hungry uncle and secure her family gold mine once and for all.

These two protagonists could not be more different, but when a chance encounter on a train throws the two together, Charlotte and Reece must learn to work together to free Reece from the Rose Riders and save Charlotte’s family from losing everything. Along the way, the pair meets familiar old faces (Kate and Jesse from VENGEANCE ROAD!) and find out that they may have more in common than either of them expected.

I loved this book. Although it’s said that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, RETRIBUTION RAILS is just as beautiful as VENGEANCE ROAD and, at least for me, this is rare for a sequel.

The beauty of this novel does not end with the cover, though. The characters are well-developed and complicated, both the leads and supporting characters. Especially with Reece, there is much more to the characters than it originally seems, and I loved following the twists and turns of the plot to find out more about them. Bowman also did an incredible job with supporting characters, likely because the main supporting characters, Kate and Jesse, are the main characters in VENGEANCE ROAD. However, their story (although a major contribution to the plot of RETRIBUTION RAILS) did not overshadow the main plot faced by Reece and Charlotte.

And what a plot it was! Fast-paced, unique and gritty, RETRIBUTION RAILS takes readers into some of the darkest corners of the old West and shows the light that can still be found there. I could not put this book down, and I was practically clamoring to see what happened next. I won’t give away too much of the plot, but there is a truly excellent plot twist near the end that ensured I was kept guessing until the book’s final pages.

Featuring a fast-moving plot and characters to die for, this atmospheric Western is not one to miss. I’m a total sucker for a good Western, and this is one that truly lives up to the hype. I would recommend this book to anyone who read VENGEANCE ROAD, and especially to lovers of historical fiction. This story will stay with you, and it’s guaranteed to keep you reading long past your bedtime.

Reviewed by Maggie Dow on January 10, 2018

Retribution Rails
by Erin Bowman