Author: Michelle Modesto
Genre: western, historical fiction, supernatural
Published: expected February 2nd 2016
Source: publishers via edelweiss for review
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.
Revenge and the Wild is the simple story of of a girl's need for revenge in a world of cannibals, magic, supernatural creatures, steampunk technology, conspiracies, and teenage love. Okay so maybe it's not so simple of a tale. But it is good, original, memorable, and very entertaining. It's a bit of mishmash of genres but damned if Modesto doesn't reel you into this westernish historical fiction debut novel. Westie's far from your average YA protagonist but she is not all there is to appreciate in this novel.
This book is just different from the outset of the first chapter. It feels and reads like a combination of a lot of popular elements from all over YA but it still manages to feel fresh and new. A lot of that is down to the main character of seventeen year-old Westie. Westie is many, many things: crude, bloodthirsty, unconventional, strong, flawed, angry, dirty, and determined. She's memorable and different; she shoots first and asks questions later. She makes a lot of mistakes but she's a great character for all those qualities listed before. She's imperfect but realistic. She's the kind of girl that survives, no matter what it takes.
The plot centers around Westie, her past, and her drive for answers. Along the way Modesto creates some interesting philosophical dilemmas for our girl to figure out and weather through; like her individual need for vengeance against the greater good of her friends and family. The story feels a little long at just under 370 pages but Modesto makes those chapters fly by with frequent action, unconventional characters, unique worldbuilding, and a few very well played moments. The worldbuilding doesn't really coalesce completely, but I did like how central the Native Americans were to the magic and technology needed by the white settlers. I also liked that Modesto somewhat showed how terribly these original inhabitants of the continent were treated as people moved west (for gold, to escape the Undying, etc. etc.).
I can't close out this review without mentioning the love triangles. There are a lot of guys interested in Westie -- she's beautiful and smart, and her adopted dad has a lot of fame and pull (and isn't white!) so she's noticeable. Still, between Alistair, James, Cain, Costin... and whoever else, it gets to be a bit much to take. I did like that Westie is far from your typical YA heroine -- she's an alcoholic in addition to her virtues and vices already mentioned -- but I had to roll my eyes at the sheer number of guys who were interested.