Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: YA | Western Steampunk
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.
I planned on reading Michelle Modesto's REVENGE AND THE WILD for some time now but hesitated because most of the early reviews I've read weren't very encouraging for varying reasons. Still I decided to give it a to in order to form my own opinion and as you can see, it worked out pretty well for me.
A brief summary: Westie's family got eaten by cannibals and after years of mourning and bottle therapy, she's found herself face to face with them. The Fairfields are the Mayor's guests though and potential investors for Nigel's (Westie's foster father) machine that will help keep the magic in their town from failing with devastating results. The problem is how is Wearied going to prove that the Fairfields are cannibals, better yet, how can she extract her revenge when the odds are against her? Well, Westie managed it but not without heartbreaking consequences.
REVENGE AND THE WILD is a diverse read in the sense that there's an array of creatures to be found from vampires, werewolves, trolls, banshees, etc. Most of them provided backdrop except for one vampire, Costin, who has a critical role to play in this story. The myth and world building is very straightforward too. I haven't read a lot of Western paranormal steampunk, MModesto gave me a good atmospheric adventure and I'm hoping this isn't her last. There's a niche to be carved here. On a side note, REVENGE AND THE WILD isn't steampunk heavy too, it has enough details to give it a mild vibe.
A lot of readers disconnected with Westie, and that was my primary concern as its hard to like a character driven novel if you can't connect with the lead. I didn't have a problem with Westie although she is not the strongest and most cunning heroine. She is tenacious, impulsive, kind, can be resourceful, but with a mechanical arm that has gained her a reputation, she missed an opportunity to turn it and herself into a weapon. But despite her not being as badass as I hoped she would be, she's a likable enough character, protective of her friends, smart when it matters, but far from frail or even whiny.
For someone who doesn't read or like YA fantasy, I had a jolly good time with REVENGE OF THE WILD. It's very mellow on romance and its dark and gritty parts had a lot to do with my enjoyment. The Fairfields were also clever adversaries so I got into the conflict without a hitch. I want them dead and I want them punished for their crimes! There's also a big heartbreaking reveal involved that I didn't see coming, good job there MModesto, that's a great plot twist!
I don't know if this is a series or standalone, REVENGE AND THE WILD's conclusion is good, no cliffhangers or hints of a follow-up. But the plot has enough room to be expanded. Again, I hope MModesto writes either a sequel or at least, another book this dark with the same setting.