"The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.
Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.
But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.
This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto."
Carolyn's thoughts on the book:
Revenge and the Wild is fast, complex, rollicking tale of revenge and redemption set in a steampunk Wild West. Set in an alternate, magical, steampunk 19th century filled with vampires, zombies, elves, werewolves, and cannibals, the novel is a reimagining of the classic Western revenge story. After losing her family and her arm in a brutal cannibal attack, Westie lives a less-than-normal life as the adoptive daughter of Nigel, a famed inventor. In a town filled with magical creatures, it should be easy to fit in, but between the prosthetic arm, her unwillingness to conform to social conventions, and her thirst for revenge, Westie remains an outsider among the town. But the town has other concerns - namely, how to preserve the protective shield that surrounds the town as the local magic of the Native Americans fades, or, in Nigel's case, how to find investors for his project to fix the shield. Of course, the investors Nigel draws just so happen to be the very same cannibals that killed Westie's family - but of course, Westie, along with Alistair, is the only one who knows and believes their true identities. Trapped by the town, Westie must expose the investors for who they are and finally exact her revenge for her family. The book is packed full of excitement and adventure, with never a dull or predictable moment. The pacing is measured, though, providing the reader enough time to take everything in.
The characters are fantastic and unique, shying away from tropes. One of the things I love the most about Westie is that she's a YA protagonist whose disability isn't used to just dramatize the plot and provide the reader with a sense of inspiration at the end of the book. Yes, Westie's trauma acts as the driving force behind her quest for justice, but it doesn't consume or eclipse her identity - she lost her arm, and her family, and while that affects her everyday life and does shape her, she isn't held up to some ideal simply because she 'got through' life after what happened. She's flawed, and brash, and looking for revenge, and is never minimized or idealized because of her disability. I also liked how Alistair's physical deformity (missing part of his face) cleverly inverted the trope of the tragic disability: it's tragic when women lose their beauty, but it's only tragic for men when they lose functionality because of their disability. By making Alistair the scarred one and Westie the one who lost function, this trope is completely turned on its side. I felt like the book did a very nuanced job of dealing with disability (though I am speaking from a place of privilege as an abled person).
The only thing I would caution readers against is that the book does contain some gore (as to be expected, when dealing with cannibalism), so I would recommend reading not while eating, and if you have a weak stomach, this book may not be for you.
Overall, Revenge and the Wild is a fantastic read, perfect for fans of fantasy, steampunk, and historical fiction alike.
Carolyn is a teen blogger who shares her favorite YA reads and favorite book related finds with readers on Fridays.