ReadersMagnet Review recommends these five must-read novels about the Wild Western frontier.
True Grit by Charles Portis
True Grit is Charles Portis’ 1968 novel about revenge and redemption set in Arkansas. The story follows a young girl named Mattie Ross. When she was only fourteen years old, an alcoholic and a cowardly man named Tom Chaney shoots her father in Forth Smith, Arkansas. Before fleeing, the cold-blooded murderer took Frank Ross’ horse and $150 cash. Determined to avenge her father’s death, Mattie enlists the help of a mean U.S. Marshall named Rooster Cogburn. Together, they head out to the Indian Territory to find her father’s murderer. True Grit is known for its eccentricities, humor, and fearless scenes. It is one of America’s most celebrated works of literature and Charles Portis’s most famous work.
Bannack by Thomas “Jerry” Delaney
Bannack: A Growing Up Story In The Vigilante West is the complete title of Thomas “Jerry” Delaney’s 2020 historical Western Fiction. The book is a coming-of-age story that features a young boy, Billy Mayfair. Billy’s hard life at home forces him to embark on a journey to find a fortune in gold in a remote mining camp in what would become Montana Territory. His travel landed him a job in a Union hospital during the height of the Civil War. Billy is then able to travel north of Fort Benton. He eventually settled in the town of Bannack. The remote town becomes his home and its sheriff, his closest friend, and Billy’s life is forever changed. Bannack by Delaney is a gripping story of the historic town famous for its outlaws, vigilantes, and hangings.
The Revenant by Michael Punke
A true Western Fiction classic in the making, Michael Punke’s 2015 bestselling novel The Revenant takes us to the mesmerizing world of the last American frontier. Set in 1823, we follow the story and tragedy of a group of trappers from the Rocky Mountain Fur Company through the eyes of Hugh Glass. Glass keeps the group together to survive the wilderness as an expert tracker and among the group’s most experienced frontiersmen. But when a grizzly bear viciously mauls him, his men betrayed him, killed his son, and left him for dead. The Revenant is based on a true story of iron will and revenge. Punke presents the harsh realities of frontier life- the weather, the terrain, the hostile natives, and treacherous greed.
Dead Man’s Walk by Larry McMurtry
Dead Man’s Walk is the first installment of Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove tetralogy. The book features two of the most charismatic heroes of Western Fiction today, Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call. Gus and Call are two green Texas Rangers who have much to learn and discover about what it means to be rangers in a land beset with crime, violence, hostility, and unforgiving hot weather. Riding off with a bunch of incompetent officers, Gus and Call will find themselves on a life-changing adventure that involves facing death at the hands of the cunning Comanche war chief Buffalo Hump and the silent Apache Gomez, being astonished by the Mexican army, and Gus finding the love of his life.
Outlawed by Anna North
Outlawed is an adventure novel published last January. This is Anna North’s latest book, and just like her previous novels, they feature feminist and gender-related themes. The story opens up with 17-year-old bride Ada, who loves her husband dearly and embraces life working as an apprentice for her midwife mother. However, life takes a nasty turn after a year of marriage and no pregnancy. Barren women are considered witches and hanged, so Ada decides to run away and join a notorious band of outlaws led by a preacher-turned-robber known to all as the Kid. What follows next is a series of adventures for Ada and the Hole in the Wall Gang. Fast-paced, witty, and even hilarious at some point, Outlawed is a delightfully refreshing read.