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Vengeance Road #2

Retribution Rails

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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.

374 pages, Hardcover

First published November 7, 2017

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About the author

Erin Bowman

15 books1,936 followers
Erin Bowman is the critically acclaimed author of numerous books for children and teens, including the Taken Trilogy, Vengeance Road, Retribution Rails, the Edgar Award-nominated Contagion duology, The Girl and the Witch’s Garden, and the forthcoming Dustborn. A web designer turned author, Erin has always been invested in telling stories—both visually and with words. Erin lives in New Hampshire with her husband and children. You can visit her online at embowman.com, on twitter @erin_bowman, or on instagram @heyerin.


PLEASE NOTE: Erin does not check goodreads mail. If you message her this way she will not see it. For contact methods, visit Erin's website.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 414 reviews
Profile Image for Erin Bowman.
Author 15 books1,936 followers
Shelved as 'books-i-wrote'
October 26, 2017
UPDATE 4/6/17: Until RR releases in November, I will release a teaser for every 1,000 goodreads adds. Add it to your shelves, then get your friends to add it, too ;)
1k: http://erinbowman.tumblr.com/post/159...

2k: http://erinbowman.tumblr.com/post/160...

3k: http://erinbowman.tumblr.com/post/164...

4k: http://erinbowman.tumblr.com/post/166...


UPDATE 1/30/17: The cover and first two chapters have been revealed on EW.


Yeehaw, I'm writing another western! Let me get a few frequently asked questions out of the way:

Is this a sequel to Vengeance Road?
Nope, it's a companion novel—same world, but a completely separate story, with a new plot and new characters. RR is again set in Arizona (roughly ten years after the events of VR), but you can read RR without reading VR, and it will absolutely make sense.

But will there be a Kate cameo?

Will there be a Jesse cameo?

Will characters I love die?

Are you just saying ‘maybe’ to everything at this point?
Yes. But only because I don’t want to spoil things for you.

So when’s it coming out?
Right now, we’re thinking fall of 2017, which means I really need to get back to finishing the first draft!
November 7, 2017!

Will the cover match VR?
No clue! It’s still very early in the game, and I haven’t had any conversations with my editor yet regarding cover direction. But after my experience with VR, I know I’m in good hands and that it will be a collaborative process. You’ll know more when I know more.
YES! Teagan White, the insanely talented illustrator who did VR's cover, is on board to do the art for RR as well. I have seen preliminary sketches and they. are. beautiful.

The pitch mentions a boy and a girl. Does this mean two main characters?
YES! Reece Murphy is your “train-robber in possession of a mysterious coin” and Charlotte Vaughn is your “aspiring journalist.” They’re both teens navigating unexpected obstacles in 1887 Arizona, one of which is each other. I am not kind to these kids, but then again, I was never very kind to anyone in VR, either.

Ooh, tell me more. What else can I expect?
Train heists, mystery, betrayal, desert winter, nooses, vicious outlaws, unexpected allies, and of course, lots of railroad tracks. This is vague, I know, but it’s all I feel comfortable saying right now. In the meantime, I need to get back to drafting, but I promise to share more news if/when I have it. Feel free to stalk the RR pinterest board until then!

Wait, don’t go! You haven’t answer my question.
Leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer it.
I’ll also continue to answer questions/share news via my monthly newsletter, so be sure to subscribe if that sounds like your thing!
Profile Image for Tamora Pierce.
Author 106 books83.5k followers
August 18, 2017
Reluctant bandit Reese is desperate to escape the vicious gang that made the world think he wants to be part of their extreme robbing and killing. His flight from their latest rampage brings him into the path of would-be lady journalist Charlotte, who will do just about anything to get real work--and pay--from a real newspaper. Reluctantly and warily the two join forces to find a fugitive bandit who is the key to Reese getting free of his enemies.

Charlotte is no tender maiden, but a tough-minded woman of the West, ready to face down storms, killers, and even the political maneuvers that accompany the arrival of the new railroad in time. I love this book and this series of Erin Bowman's--she's making the Old West new again!
Profile Image for Rachel E. Carter.
Author 9 books3,519 followers
January 27, 2023
I would read as many westerns as Erin is willing to write, to be perfectly honest, she just has a way with making that world feel so real. Loved this almost as much as the first book in series, however I will admit I did want more romance (which was much more present in Vengeance Road) however I can totally admire it's merits without :) Oh, and I loved that we got to see Jesse and Kate again, totally wasn't expecting to see them in this book!
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,741 reviews712 followers
October 17, 2017
I had read and enjoyed Vengeance Road, so I was pretty eager to see what a companion story would look like...and it’s better than VR was.

I loved Charlotte and Reece. She’s smart and stubborn and clever as hell. He’s a better person than he thinks he is and it’s definitely interesting being in his head while he figures things out. Of course it’s awesome to see Kate and Jesse. The scenes with them were some of my favorite.

Plot wise, it’s pretty much fast paced right from the beginning. The story starts with a bang and doesn’t let go. And while there’s a lot of riding horses and traveling, it was never boring. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Overall, it was a great companion, but it’s strong enough to stand on its own. I could have done with a bit more at the ending, but how it ended really worked.

**Huge thanks to HMH for Young Readers for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,748 reviews5,288 followers
November 6, 2017
"Ain't it interesting," he goes on, "how when the Law fails people, they always turn to the outlaws."

In the companion novel to Vengeance Road, ten years have passed and Reece Murphy - AKA "The Rose Kid" - has been roped into traveling with Luther Rose, brother of the infamous late Waylan: the very same man Kate Thompson killed with the help of Jesse Colton. Reece has been told he'll never be free of Luther's grasp until he can lead Rose to the gunslinger who killed Waylan, but all Reece wants is to start a new life, free of the killing and thieving.

reece & charlotte
So much for things always looking better with a smile. Perhaps what Mother meant is, men like women best when they smile.

I somehow managed to avoid the knowledge that this was a companion novel, and not necessarily a sequel, so you can imagine my surprise when I was introduced to this new pair of characters, with chapters alternating between each of their narratives.

I really love Kate as a narrator, and unfortunately, neither Reece nor Charlotte lived up to my expectations. Reece was decent enough, but Charlotte was so incredibly self-absorbed throughout most of the story that her perspectives were grating, at best. There was a solid 10-15% of the story in which I skimmed her chapters because they were superfluous and boring.

You can gather from the very beginning that there's going to be a blossoming romance, but it feels so forced and I never found myself rooting for it to go anywhere.

what i liked
"He best hope he can run faster than his demons."

As you can gather from the synopsis, Reece is hunting down Kate herself, so I won't consider it a spoiler to tell you that she's present for part of this story, and I loved spending more time with her. She was such an enjoyable, tough young woman, and she's even better as an adult. She's only burrowed further into her feminism and her values, though time has taught her how to look for the good in people.

As was the case with Vengeance Road, the shootout scenes are fun and easy to follow, and you feel transported right onto the set of a western film every time.

what i disliked
"Is that all it takes? One misfortune in your life, one act done out of desperation, and suddenly you're a criminal?"

I could easily devote this entire section to Charlotte's character. She's pretentious, haughty, self-absorbed, and completely incapable of looking past her own privileges. Even when she's called out, she finds a way to turn herself into the biggest victim in any given scenario. She wasn't the worst character ever by any means, but man, does she warrant a lot of eye-rolling.

My only other complaints were: 1) Jesse felt like a background character that we didn't get to spend nearly enough time with, and 2) I had the same problem as I did with Vengeance Road in that it was so tough to genuinely connect with any of the characters or to care about any of them.

final thoughts
That devil could crawl from the deepest pits of Hell itself.

If you've already read Vengeance Road and are dying for more of the universe, pick this one up, but if you're like me and are hoping for a sequel and to spend more time with Kate and Jesse, I'd recommend just trying to find yourself a copy of the Kate & Jesse novella and leaving it at that.

Content warnings: violence, death, implied rape, abuse

All quotes are taken from an unfinished ARC copy and may differ from the final publication. Thank you so much to HMHTeen for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review!
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
July 26, 2020
fulfilling my 2020 goal to read (at least) one book each month that i bought in hardcover and put off reading long enough that it is now in paperback.

review to come!
Profile Image for Justine.
1,158 reviews312 followers
November 21, 2017
As much as I liked Vengeance Road, I loved Retribution Rails.

Set 10 years after the events of Vengeance Road, this book introduces two new main characters, but also reunites us with Kate and Jessie. I loved both Charlotte and Reese and how different they were from the characters from the previous book. Charlotte accomplishes things through her wits and tenacity, and Reese struggles to let go of the demons of his past and find a future for himself. Their stories were exciting and heartbreaking at times, and most of the book kept me at the edge of my seat.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and the narrators for the alternating POV's for Charlotte and Reese were both excellent and really brought the story to life. This western tale is straight historical fiction, pure and simple, and not my usual genre, but I enjoyed it so thoroughly that I put it on my favourites 2017 shelf.
Profile Image for TL .
1,882 reviews52 followers
November 11, 2017
*I would recommend reading 'Vengeance Road" before this. Some characters from the first do make appearances and its important to the plot. Enough is made understood that you'll get the gist but you'll understand more if you read that one first.*

I should have re-read Vengeance Road before this but somehow never got the time... whoops:)
Still it was easy to fall back into the world, and some things at one par of the story that were hazy for me came back pretty quickly so that didn't hinder me at all.

Side note: According to Facebook memories and Goodreads, I started to read this around the same time as Vengeance Road but finished on the same day and didn't realize.
Neat hmm? Well.. to me anyway :)
3.5 stars overall.

Writing: 4 stars
Plot: 3.5 stars
Characters: 3.5 stars


He was the easier to connect with of the two. His story intrigued me more than Charlotte's and felt more... real, know what I mean? He desperately wants to leave the life he's trapped in but on some level he doesn't believe its really possible but he tries to keep that bit of hope safe till he can find that cowboy he's looking for.

I can understand it all from Charlotte's POV and if we didn't have Reece's viewpoint I suppose I would be feeling and thinking the same but still wanted to shake her a few times. She does grow up some over the course of the story and doesn't become as grating but I didn't care for her for most of the novel.

She didn't bring the novel down for me, she just couldn't hold a candle to Kate (not comparing,just stating facts from my POV).

Different backgrounds for the two yes, but still..

I was a little worried at first that the new Rose Riders angle would feel cheap but it quickly proved me wrong. How Miss Bowman did it made sense, and felt authentic so that was a relief.

The climax of the story had me racing through the pages and holding my breath, crossing my fingers and hoping my favorite people would be okay. The ending felt a bit abrupt, but in a good way.

Would I read more of this world? Yes. I don't think it needs it but then again I wouldn't have thought about this novel at first either *shrugs* We shall see what happens.
Profile Image for mith.
762 reviews265 followers
October 31, 2017
Read my review on my blog as well! (my dumb ass forgot the link, not that it was important anyway, smh)
Okay, so, I didn't read Vengeance Road prior to this book--I still haven't so shame on me. If this book is any indication, I'll definitely need to pick it up because wow, what a surprise!

Anyway, before I continue, a few disclaimers. If you planned on reading this book--and you should, honestly--but haven't read Vengeance Road, like me, there will be some spoilers for the book. While Retribution Rails also stands on its own, I'd recommend reading the first book in the companion series for the full effect. It's not necessary, but definitely a good suggestion. (AKA, don't be like me lol.)

Anyway! One of the best things about this book was that romance was hardly the focus at all. In fact, it was barely there! There were... hints, but otherwise, it focused a lot of the characters and the plot, making it a very action-packed, fast-paced read.

I've not read many western novels, so this was probably a small introduction for me. I'm glad it was this novel because I loved the characters, Reece and Charlotte, so much! Not to mention that Bowman did a wonderful job with it, from the research and setting to the writing and dialogue. It's clear she excels at these sort of novels.

I adored Reece! So much. The situation he was in, how he was so torn, it was so heartbreaking. (Not because it was like sad or anything, he's just precious and I want to protect him, you know?) Anyway, he's had an extremely difficult life as a kid because of the Rose Riders attacking his family. He was forced to join them and every atrocious thing they did to other people. His story made me really respect him.

Warming up to Charlotte took some time, but I ended up loving her too. I mean, she acted really entitled--or naïve, I guess?--in the beginning, partly because she expected help from the people she asked which was sort of ridiculous to me. But things definitely weren't easy for her and I liked that she persevered and did what she thought was necessary to fix her problems instead of waiting around. Charlotte definitely had significant growth from the beginning of the novel.

There are some old characters that play a big role in the novel. (Again, if you haven't read Vengeance Road, it's a good idea you do so before this one.) I won't say anything beyond that, but I liked them a lot!

Soooo. I'd consider pre-ordering this book (I hear there's an incentive as well!) If you loved Vengeance Road, you'll love Retribution Rails! There's action, secret plans, and so much more! 4 stars!
Just a note: don't be like me. I read this book before I read Vengeance Road and that was a slight mistake. I mean, this is a companion novel, but I highly recommend reading the other one before hand. For the sake of background story.
Profile Image for Julia Sapphire.
546 reviews1,044 followers
August 19, 2020
“Secrets are like bullets. Ditto the dark, personal stuff. Folks say they'll take'em off yer hands, share the burden, but really they just load 'em into their own weapons so they can use 'em against you later.”

I loved this soooo much! From the writing, to the characters, to the setting, it was all great.
Though this is more of a 4.75ish just because at times it was predictable.

-I loved the alternating POVs with Reece and Charlotte
- "I ain't never gonna find him. I'm gonna be stuck riding with these boys forever"
- Explored topics such as, good vs evil, morals, fear, freedom, gangs, superiority, appearance vs reality, demons and darkness, loyalty, death and retribution (obviously haha)
- I appreciated the feminism components with Charlotte and her bravery, especially in the second half of the book
- Overall was everything I could ask for in a western
Profile Image for Taylor.
767 reviews422 followers
June 25, 2017
An ARC of this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Very rarely does my most anticipated books live up to my own hype but Retribution Rails lived up to my hype and more. It was everything I hoped it would be.
This book follows two very different characters. Reece is a well know outlaw and Charlotte is ambitious and trying to provide for her newly widowed mother. The two of them are unwillingly have their paths crossed and adventures follow.
Charlotte and Reece are such well written, complex, and amazing characters. I loved them so much.
Each of them had great qualities and wonderful character development.
The writing style was just as fantastic as it was in Vengeance Road. Erin is such a talented writer and I'll always read whatever books she puts out.

Retribution Rails' plot is completely different from Vengeance Road so it wasn't repetitive at all. Even though RR and VR are companion novels, you can definitely read each on their own (But I totally recommend reading both because they're so good).

Overall, Retribution Rails was everything I hoped it would be and more. I loved everything about it and I'm undoubtedly going to be rereading it soon. If you're looking for something fresh, creative, and extremely entertaining, I highly recommend Retribution Rails.

Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews1,014 followers
June 12, 2019

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

“I have stories to write and places to visit, and legends are like the wind––intangible and fleeting.”

The West in Retribution Rails is not as Wild as it was in Vengeance Road, but I sure have enjoyed it as much. And both these stories have one thing in common:

Ol' good vengeance:

Western in books is quite a rare genre, at least I do not encounter books with The Wild West setting often, and a couple of years ago when I came across Vengeance Road it was something new and refreshing in young adult genre. And the way the author managed to make the story live on the pages as if the characters stepped off the book to tell their story of vengeance, I found myself immersed into that world of outlaws and gunslingers. Such an enjoyable ride!

Retribution Rails is a companion novel, telling the story of Reece Murphy, a young man who is forced into an infamous Rose Riders gang and is looking for a way out. The second POV belongs to a young aspiring journalist Charlotte Vaughn, whose path crosses with Reece's, turning them into reluctant allies, and both of them will have to face their demons if they want to survey Wild West.

For those who enjoy from hate to something more trope, will surely enjoy this book. Plus it lacks the isntalove or the romance in its angsty form. It's more a story of friendship that might turn into something with time, but that something the author leaves behind the pages, giving us space for imagination.

The salt and grit of the story, though, not romance or friendship - it's a fight: fight for freedom and fight with old demons. But I would go as far as saying that I mainly enjoyed both books because of The Wild West atmosphere. From the language to the descriptions of the era - everything reminded me of a good Western story. As a bonus, I was pleasantly surprised to meet the characters from Vengeance Road; they were older and more mature, giving the young folk some precious advice, which made me smile a lot, remembering how reckless they were in their own story, and how much they've grown from that point.

All in all, Retribution Rails can be read as a standalone for those people who haven't read the first book. And if you are like me rarely encounter books in the Western genre, I believe this book may be a wonderful introduction into the genre.

Yer'll prolly enjoy shooting time with this Western!

Profile Image for Lucie.
836 reviews88 followers
September 21, 2017
“So you can either be scared yer whole life or you can try to enjoy it. I suggest the latter. Otherwise yer gonna blink and find yerself old and weary, talking yer last breath and regretting that you passed yer years tense and worrisome.”p. 247

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All the quotes used in this review might have changed in the final copy.

Before I actually start this review, here is the quote that might be enough to convince you to read it:

“Reece Murphy was a boy who became a man while riding with the devil.” p. 368

From the first few pages, I fell in love with Retribution Rails. Truth be told, I hadn't read any summary of it, but as I loved Vengeance Road, I was confident I would enjoy it. What I hadn't expected was to fall in love with the story, to the point that I loved this companion novel even more. Once again, Erin Bowman did a lot of research to recreate the setting of that time, and I was transported all the way there, alongside the characters.

It's been a long time since I read a book with two points of view, but I thought it was so well-done here. Sometimes, the characters take a long time to meet and you don't understand how they'll come together, but in this case, Charlotte and Reece's paths were intertwined from the first few pages and I loved how Erin Bowman did it. Reece was that boy who had been given no choice, who seemed to be a villain from the outside, when the truth was so much more complicated than that and the lines between right and wrong were blurred. On the other side, Charlotte was this badass girl through her words, who wanted to be a journalist and to be independent. Their backgrounds were so interesting and I liked that we still got subplots involving Charlotte's family, as the main plot drifted away from it. Their dynamics were so well-developed, because it started with prejudice, mistrust and fear, and it was so interesting to see them change their minds. Besides, old characters from Vengeance Road played an important role in Retribution Rails, I loved to see what they had become.

Now, when it comes to the plot, I loved how it was linked to the events taking place in Vengeance Road. The novel started as Reece and Charlotte's story, before the reader discover that the stakes are so much higher than that. Would I recommend you to read Vengeance Road before Retribution Rails? I do, because it's awesome and it makes a lot more sense when you have that background, but you can understand without having read it. In short: it's up to you.

Anyhow, the plot was so gripping, I read this book in a few sittings and there weren't any dull moments. Retributions Rails is a page-turner with amazing action scenes and such an interesting historical background. Moreover, my feelings got all over the place. “Why would you do that to me?” Is all I ask. I'm sorry, but I need to recover from everything that happened in the end. I just need more from these characters and I'm totally up for another companion book (but sadly it won't happen)(please do it though), for I want to see everyone again.

Overall, this book was absolutely amazing and I loved it even more than Vengeance Road. I thought that the two points of view balanced the book perfectly, I was so attached to the characters that I don't really want to let them go (I'm still in denial) and the plot was so gripping. If you think you don't like historical fiction, please reconsider. Vengeance Road and Retribution Rails might change your mind.

Other quotes I loved:

“Sometimes folk think they need a gunslinger when really they just need time to find peace with what's happened. Revenge isn't always the answer.” p. 165

“They collide beside the reservoir, and for a moment I cannot tell where she ends and he begins. In the darkness, they are a single unit, their hand tangled in each other's hair, their fronts pressed together, their voices a jumble of relieved gasps. When they finally break apart, they stand there staring at each other and I'm struck through a feeling of awe. At how the world can be falling apart and yet, somehow, there are moments like this. Moments that are nothing but good and whole and warm, where all the darkness in the world seems distant, as if it cannot touch us, or at least as if it canno touch the likes of them.” p. 202

“It's funny, I think as the train approaches, how a person can spend so long chasin the truth only to find they love fabricated stories just as fiercely.
Maybe legends are tangible after all.
Perhaps they are created on the page.”
p. 375
Profile Image for Gaby.
483 reviews308 followers
May 10, 2017
Gritty, dangerous, and fun, Erin Bowman writes the best Wild West novels I've ever read. Of course, I loved seeing Kate and Jesse again (10 years later! Hello precious ship!), but Reece and Charlotte really owned this whole story. Just their dynamic - Charlotte, the daughter of a wealthy mine owner and Reece, one of the bad guys robbing trains - is enough to delight me endlessly. Add all of the guns and horses and twists and tricks... Retribution Rails really is the perfect sequel.
Profile Image for The Girl with the Sagittarius Tattoo.
2,230 reviews277 followers
March 28, 2018
This was okay. I loved Vengeance Road, but I didn't love this.

In VR, the main character Kate was fiery and tough without coming off superior. Retribution Rails suffers from Charlotte Vaughn, a main character who is so convinced of her own rightness - even as she acknowledges she shouldn't be doing or feeling as she does - that I just couldn't immerse myself in the story the way I did with the first novel.

This book isn't touted as a sequel, and it's not. It's a companion novel set in the same place and nearly the same time, whose characters cross paths with the characters and storyline from the first novel.

To be honest, I could've done without this book - even the ending wasn't satisfying. Comparisons with the first book are inevitable, and if I'd not read Vengeance Road first I'm sure I would've liked this a lot more than I do. But in every way, that book is a lot better than this one.
Profile Image for Ellie.
578 reviews2,202 followers
November 18, 2017
I recieved an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Omg hi fantastic, exciting novel that I devoured at an exponential speed.

First of all, I've not read Vengeance Road. I actually don't think I've read any Western-style books either, which is why this was so fun and exciting to me! I'm definitely going to be buying Vengeance Road and Retribution Rails as a set when they come out in paperback editions in the UK.

Retribution Rails follows two new leads, Reece Murphy and Charlotte Vaughn. I've read that none are as good protagonists as Kate from Vengeance Road, but I still thought they were enjoyable characters (and I can't compare, considering I haven't read Vengeance Road). I liked reading through their alternating narratives, and thought they provided good perspectives. They were not, however, the most amazing characters I have ever read the pleasure to read about, nor were they so exemplary that I felt like shouting about them from the rooftops.

The strongest aspect of this novel, though, was the worldbuilding. I mean, wow. I loved it. It felt so physically Western, like I could reach out and touch it. The arid desert, the towns, the gunfights, the cowboys and thieves and sheriffs. Retribution Rails has suddenly made me yearn for more Western-y books! Bowman has created such an incredible, dangerous, tactile world that serves as a backdrop to this tense, thrilling, tightly-woven book.

TL;DR: Highly enjoyable book with an absolutely AWESOME setting, but whilst I did like the characters, I didn't find them overly individual or discernible from other YA heroes and heroines.
Profile Image for Wing (bibliomeds).
163 reviews103 followers
November 14, 2017
I love love love this one 💕
Reece and Charlotte are now my new favourite characters!
Epic plot, action-packed, full of feels, what an AWESOME read!!!
It was great to see Kate and Jesse too!!!

(Would love a novella post RR too 🙈)
Profile Image for Bec (booktineus).
704 reviews154 followers
January 3, 2018
This review first appeared on Readers in Wonderland

Initial Thoughts
I loved these new character and also LOVED seeing Kate and Jesse and Mutt and Rebel and Silver again.

A review will come if I can form any coherent words (I got so caught up in reading I forgot to take notes)

I forgot to take notes
Like the first novel, RETRIBUTION RAILS was very addictive. It is a bit slower pacing wise than VENGEANCE ROAD, but the plot is much more complicated and layered. Once I started I couldn’t stop. I was almost late for the train one day when I just HAD to finish the final 50 pages because I couldn’t stop!!

Old friends return
I knew Kate and Jesse would return for RETRIBUTION RAILS (especially after the set up in that KATE AND JESSE novella), but I didn’t expect them to be present for the great majority of the novel! Also Silver and Rebel and Mutt and Jake! I loved all the little references to the events and settings 10 years ago.

Great new faces
I love Charlotte and Reece just as much as I love Kate and Jesse. They have quite different personalities to the Coltons. Charlotte is not as hot headed as Kate, more intellectual and reserved but still as stubborn as a Donkey. Reece has a lot of moral dilemmas going on, being forced to participate in a gang against his own wishes.

Barely any romance
This is a fact that I both loved and wish was different. RETRIBUTION RAILS has the smallest, tiniest hints of a romantic development over the course of the entire novel. The start of feelings growing but never fully coming to fruition. It was great because it never overtook the plot and character development, but I also really wanted just the tiniest bit more.

A great companion/ sequel
RETRIBUTION RAILS ties up so many questions I had about some of the characters from VENGEANCE ROAD while entertaining me with a new plot. It really was everything I ever wanted.
Profile Image for ᒪᗴᗩᕼ .
1,564 reviews152 followers
April 13, 2018
4 Out of 5 "Redemptive" STARS

I think it has to be tricky to write a YA/Western. The Old West is rather violent, and difficult to pull off in a YA scope. You can't help but feel that scenes in Retribution Rails would have gone slightly differently in these infamous days of old, had they been true to them. So, yeah, this is a lightly (somewhat) watered-down version of the old west. Despite that, it is an engaging tale, with characters who have their own hopes and dreams that are inspirational in a time with little inspiration.

While not necessary, I would suggest reading Vengeance Road beforehand, because the main characters in that book are present for a large chunk of the story in this book. It will enhance your reading experience to know all about Kate and Jesse's story too.



Plot~ 4/5
Main Characters~ 4/5
Secondary Characters~ 4/5
The Feels~ 3.7/5
Pacing~ 4/5
Addictiveness~ 4/5
Theme or Tone~ 4.3/5
Flow (Writing Style)~ 4/5
Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.2/5
Originality~ 5/5
Ending~ 4/5 Cliffhanger~ Nope.

Book Cover~ Very Awesome!
Narration~☆4.5☆ Amy Melissa Bentley & Michael Summerer both did excellently.
Series~ Companion to Vengeance Road
Setting~ Old West, Arizona
Source~ Audiobook (Scribd)


Profile Image for Alexa.
2,215 reviews11.8k followers
October 25, 2017
Retribution Rails is one damn satisfying read. Set in the Wild West, in the time of railroad expansion, it drew me in immediately and built up into a story that had me breathless as I read it. It wouldn’t quite have had the same impact, I suppose, had I not come to care for both main characters, Reece Murphy and Charlotte Vaughn. It was a slow burn start for me, to be sure, but it paid off beautifully in the end. I cannot recommend this one enough!
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,733 reviews260 followers
August 23, 2018
Retribution Rails, a companion piece to Vengeance Road, is fantastic and I'd even say it's better than the original. It has everything I could have asked for in a gritty western adventure from train robberies and stagecoach chases, shootouts and gunfights, to outlaws and bad men. Plus, I love that Bowman does her own thing with thing with the genre - it's so much more than just those tropes. Her world-building is absolutely outstanding - as far as I'm concerned i was really there in the Arizona Territory of 1887. She also does a marvelous job creating two very distinct characters with Charlotte and Reece and you can't help but root for the both of them along this ruthless journey. I was also so pleased to see Kate and Jesse feature in this companion ten years on down the line. I definitely need to try more of Bowman's work in the sci-fi and dystopian genres, but I would love to see her write another western. I think I'd just love to see more YA Westerns handled as deftly as this to be honest.
Profile Image for Nikki.
421 reviews11 followers
April 8, 2018
Before I read these books, I couldn't imagine I would end up loving them so much, but it happened. While I normally wouldn't pick up a book set in a time and place like this, I ended up really loving this series. And I would be extremely happy if Erin Bowman would end up writing another book in this setting!

This book, set 10 years after the first one, is a story of its own but also a story linked in many ways to the first book. It brought back characters and history from the first book, but it was also a well written story by itself. New problems arise, new characters come in to play and it makes you really curious to find out what will happen.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It's well written, it makes you want to keep on reading and it sucks you into the world Erin Bowman created. I'm very pleasantly surprised how much I ended up loving these two books, but it's these kind of surprises that are the best kind.
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