First Lines: It weren’t no secret Pa owned the best plot of land ‘long Granite Creek, and I reckon that’s why they killed him.
I won’t lie–I’d seen this cover before and thought it was too busy, kind of Gothic, and just…not me. But a few months ago, I was looking through books online and for some reason, I gave this enough of a chance to read the blurb. And I found that it was probably totally something I would enjoy.
When eighteen-year-old Kate’s father is murdered, she doesn’t just want justice–she wants revenge. And answers. Because it seems her father was killed for a journal detailing the location of a gold mine in the area. And the only way Kate’s going to get her revenge is if she disguises herself as a boy and does the dirty work herself. But Arizona is not a safe place and Kate’s going to need the help of a couple of meddling brothers who won’t leave her along and an Apache girl who’d just about given up on hope. Even that may not be enough to keep her safe from the gang that’s out for gold and doesn’t mind spilling some blood.
This is an adventure story set in a very dangerous time and place. Arizona in the 1870s was an unforgiving land, especially if you managed to strike gold in any of the mines. As the story constantly points out, gold can turn men into monsters. The setting itself was unconventional enough to make it an interesting story. Factor in that this entire novel was based on a legend (which the author explains at the end) and it just makes it both more fascinating and weirdly creepier.
Kate walks an interesting line as a character. She’s not your typical young woman of the time. She’s lived out in the middle of nowhere her whole life. She knows how to shoot with killer aim and live off the land and track animals. That makes it easy for her to pretend to be a man as she seeks her revenge in a world unfriendly to women. Her voice easily shines through in the story, given her very distinct way of speaking as you can see from the first lines.
This story does not shy away from the harsh realities of a life like this. I was constantly surprised by the level of violence. Shoot-outs, blood, cold-blooded murder. It’s all there.
And this story takes some serious chances. There were some surprising twists I did not see coming because I thought there was no way this story would go that far. I was wrong.
This story rocks because it’s a female protagonist in a dangerous world doing what no one thought she’d be able to do. I would actually consider teaching this in my classroom if it worked in the curriculum. It’s a fast-paced story with tons of action. I’m pretty sure you could get a lot of reluctant readers to fall in love with this.