Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Published 2018 by Saga Press
This is San Francisco Public Library’s On The Same Page book for January/February. One of my unofficial reading goals for this year is to read every OTSP book for 2019.
While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.
Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine. Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.
Welcome to the Sixth World.
It’s taken me a while since reading this book to formulate my thoughts about it. On one hand, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the slow world-building, the character development, and the majority of Roanhorse’s writing style, occasionally the story read a little bit too YAish for me. I loved the emergence of the magic system and how Roanhorse draws lines between tradition and mythology. It’s beautifully done.
One of my favorite things is how realistic Maggie is as a character. Roanhorse inserts you inside Maggie’s mind and her thoughts, emotions, and actions are all things that match what she’s been through. I don’t want to give too much away, but I do want to give Roanhorse major props for showcasing the aftermath of subtle emotional abuse and survivor guilt. Maggie goes through an incredibly traumatic event when she’s sixteen and that’s how her powers awaken. It’s at the moment of her “rebirth”, that she encounters exactly the wrong type of person whose main desire is the mold her into something that they want her to be. Her growth throughout the novel is slow, but it’s a realistic type of slow and one that I can appreciate.
My main hangup with this novel was the pacing of the plot. This is the first book in a series, so of course, I don’t expect for everything to be nicely tied up. With that being said, I felt as if the speed of the first half of the novel was perfect, while the second half was far too rushed and missed out on far too many opportunities to further develop the characters and the world. There were events that occurred during the first half that I felt sure would be further explored in the second but alas, they just fell to the wayside. I actually wouldn’t have minded for the end of this book to be the beginning of the second in the series if it meant that things could have been more flushed out.
All in all, I do plan on reading the next book in this series. I’m now emotionally invested in Maggie, and the medicine man Kai, along with several of the other characters. I’m also going to be on the lookout for more fantasy by Native American authors (especially women!).
I Would Recommend This To…
- people who want to transition from young adult to adult fiction
- people interested in Native American culture and tradition
- fans of urban fantasy
- fans of post-apocalyptic fantasy
- people who enjoy Neil Gaiman’s”American Gods” and/or “Anansi Boys”