Reviews

The story of Barbados Tom asks the important question: if we had a chance to change everything, how would we handle it? Tom from the beginning believes himself to a ghost, after being executed for his outlaw activities, but he has no memory of his head. He comes across Jim, a young man is young enough to be his son, and slowly begins to remember some of the failings of his own prior life. The story comes together very neatly, and Vedsted’s first person narrative rings very true. I almost wish the story were longer!
Sarah Cradit

The Night I Walked off of Boot Hill is a ghost story in a rather nontraditional sense. The story revolves around the outlaw Barbados Tom who wakes up in the cemetery with less than a complete memory of how he got there. Convinced that he must be dead he struggles throughout the book to remember his life regaining bits and pieces of his memory along the way.
Early in the story Tom reluctantly befriends a teen named Jim. This friendship grows to the point that Tom actually becomes more like a father figure to him as time goes on. The one piece that is missing from the story is any history on Jim, where he came from, how he got to the ghost town where he and Tom met. This however, does not detract from the book in any major way. Tom and Jim’s adventures throughout the novel kept it interesting to the point that I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next and to find out if Tom really was a ghost. The characters were very likable, this includes outlaw Barbados Tom which just added to the books unique qualities.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. I took it on vacation and read it during my downtime. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be entertained with a novel that is a fun and easy read.
Dom DiFrancesco

The Night I Walked Off Of Boot Hill is a charming and intriguing story which may or may not be about a ghost, but is certainly the story of redemption and renewal for a former old west lawbreaker, eventual law-enforcer. Barbados Tom believes he is a ghost and that he has a task to do in relation to his family, so he journeys to fulfil that mission in the company of a young man, and through this relationship he comes to realise what he needs to do to redeem his soul and pass on.
Briana Vedsted writes with an engaging, easy flowing style that hooks the reader from the first page and keeps them on the enjoyable journey to the last page. I read the book in one pleasurable bite -its overall length and its intriguing plot line kept the pages turning with relish. Was Tom a ghost or not? In either case, he was on a heroes classic journey – the redemptive arc was strong and believable.
I recommend this to readers looking for a sojourn in a different time and place, shared in the company of likable and believable characters, following a story that will leave you satisfied and warm inside at its conclusion.
Helen

The Night I Walked Off of Boot Hill is a ghost story, but a nice one, not a scary one. It starts with a man waking up in a cemetery on Boot Hill. It takes a while for him to remember his name, Barbados Tom, and to gather his last memories before waking up on the hill. The thing is, he doesn’t know if he is dead or alive. The whole story is about Barbados Tom remembering who he is and what he did and where he needs to go. The reader is taken along on this journey, learning about him just as he learns about himself. Along the way he meets up with a young man, Jim McDougall, who also seems lost and alone. They have adventures along the way with lots of horse riding and meeting up with Indians and traveling through lonely ghost towns. Tom remembers that he was an outlaw and that he had been captured and sentenced to death. And, yet, here he is on a journey. He knows where he needs to go, but he doesn’t know why, not until close to the end.
The author does a fine job of taking the reader along with Tom and Jim, using Tom’s dreams to help him and the reader piece together Tom’s past and purpose. This novella would be appropriate for older children and young adults. I can imagine reading it out loud to kids who enjoy westerns. The story itself reminds me of when I was a kid, growing up on TV shows such as Gunsmoke and The Rifle Man. Like some other reviewers I thought the ending was a bit rushed. It was an appropriate ending in how things transpired for Tom and Jim, but I would have liked the pace at the end to be a bit slower.
I enjoyed The Night I Walked Off of Boot Hill very much and look forward to reading more by this young, gifted storyteller.
Marie Bailey

As someone who isn’t entirely drawn to the Western style, I was pleasantly surprised with “The Night I walked off of Boot Hill” by Briana Vedsted. The main character Tom, an outlaw who had a final run in with the law and thinks he’s a ghost, goes on a sort of journey with Jim, a kid he finds alone in a saloon. They travel together to Cerbat and become family-like in the process.
The Night I walked off of Boot Hill is a quick read, but a good read. Tom and Jim make a deep connection, as both are lonely, and find each other as something they never had. The ending is satisfying as Tom gets a sort of real do-over that he attempts to make earlier in his life when he gets married and has a daughter. It’s a good Young Adult story as it has a little bit of everything, from friendship to romance to a bit of suspense (is Tom really a ghost?).
If I were to have one complaint about the book it would be that the end feels a bit rushed. Once we get to Cerbat everything falls into place rather quickly and we get to the end. But that being said, the ending is satisfying and doesn’t feel too easy.
lesimonis

I just finished The Night I Walked off of Boot Hill. I enjoyed the story and the characters – especially the way the author built on the characters and their purpose to the story. The questioning and guidance of Tom and the `do now think later’ way of Jim. But then Jim is also knowledgeable of several languages – and I like that he wasn’t shy to say so. The hunting part was done so that I could imagine it. I wasn’t always convinced that Tom was a ghost or had lost his memory, and this added an interesting dimension to the story. The writing certainly kept my attention! Great dialogue. It all flowed and fell into place so well.
E. Ingham

Barbados Tom is an interesting character and not because his memory is hazy and he is trying to figure out if he’s alive or dead. He is written in a way where I didn’t hate him or like him, but I kept reading to find out where his story led. The best word I can use for him is ‘human’ because he was written with a wide range of emotions and thoughts. His inner dialogue is what moves the story along as he comments on his situation, his past, and everything around him. As I read, I really did feel like he was struggling to become a different man than what he was before he woke up on Boot Hill.
The first-person perspective through Tom’s eyes does make it difficult to get a full understanding of the other characters. For a while, I wasn’t sure what Jim’s age or true demeanor was, which did add to the mystery of Tom’s situation. There was always something off with Jim that I could never put my finger on.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick, relaxing read that focuses on character growth and inner struggles…
Charles Yallowitz

I found this book to be unique and completely original. You don’t see too many YA westerns and this worked out pretty well. I have never been a huge fan of the first person narrative, but in this case I actually thought it was a good choice. The author managed to describe the other characters adequately through the main character’s eyes.
When you meet Barabdos Tom, you aren’t really certain who(or even what) he is. How old is he? Is he a ghost or a man? It was these questions that pulled me into the story searching for an answer. What kept me reading was the author’s writing style. She has such a way of wording things that even when you are in a slower scene where not much is happening, the writing itself is good enough to keep you entertained.
I thought the wording she used was appropriate for the time period this book was set in and the character’s speech was perfect. Jim was my favorite character. I liked the way he was innocent and sweet and was happy just to spend time with Tom and have someone to look up to.
For the most part the pacing in this story was great. It isn’t a long book, but a lot happens in a short while and the author manages to tell a complete story in the space she allotted herself. The only area of this book that I felt could have used any improvement was the window of time it took for two of the characters to fall in love. They literally met, fell in love and were engaged within the course of what seemed to be just a few hours. Even for a novel intended for young adults I thought that might have been a bit of a stretch.
Overall this was lively, entertaining and just a lot of fun to read and relax with. there is nothing in this book that you wouldn’t want your young teen or preteen to read, and I would recommend it to all fans of westerns and romance. Sweet and charming.
Ionia Martin

This is an interesting and unusual fictional tale of an outlaw in the Arizona Territory in 1889. At the beginning of the story Barbados Tom, as the outlaw is known, is confused as to whether or not he’s alive. He believes he’s been executed by the authorities for his murderous activities, but the world around him looks exactly the same as it ever did. So is he alive or not? He struggles to find out and on his travels he comes across a teenager called Jim McDougall who he decides to help. As the story progresses and he helps Jim to begin to make something of his life, Tom endeavours to make amends for his past actions, sometimes painfully as he remembers who he was and what he’d done.
I really enjoyed this book, partly because the way the story was told was so unusual, being told from the point of view of someone who may or may not be a ghost. I liked how the author kept the reader guessing about who exactly Tom is and what he’d done to deserve execution. It was clever how she, the author, didn’t give much away as to whether or not Tom is alive – even he doesn’t know. The story kept me reading on; I was keen to know the answers to my questions about Tom. A great story from a promising new author.
Elaine

The night I walked off of Boot Hill is an historical western adventure which covers the life of an outlaw who believes himself to be dead. During his time as an outlaw he has done little that he is proud of, however when he finds himself on the top of Boot Hill and leaves it to find a deserted village, he begins to consider how he has lived his life and decides to change his ways. As he believes that he is a ghost, he is surprised when he is befriended by a young man and the story continues to follow their journey as they begin to make a life on the right side of the law.
I enjoyed this story very much and I felt that the author captured the feeling of the time very well and I was able to picture the scenes as they rolled by. My only criticism would be that I would have liked the story to be longer; I felt that there were times when the author could have expanded more, particularly in respect of the young man and his history and how he came to be where he was. It just felt a little bit too easy at times and I suppose I would have liked them to struggle a bit more.
Overall though an excellent read, and one I would thoroughly recommend.
Jade Reyner

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