Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhouse

Title: Trail of Lightning
Author: Rebecca Roanhouse
Series: The Sixth World, #1
Pages: 287
Publisher: Saga Press
Release Date: June 26th 2018

      “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.”

swirl (2)

“And with my need, Honágháahnii comes. Like a streak of wildfire through my veins, churning through my muscles, turning me into something more than I am without it. My eyesight sharpens. My lungs expand. And I fly, feet light, barely touching the ground.”

Rebecca Roanhouse’s Trail of Lightning is a ferocious and intoxicating fantasy novel that will keep readers on the edge of their seat from start to finish. Maggie Hoskie only knows how to do one thing well: kill monsters. Not a bad skill when you live in a world where monsters walk the land, lying in wait for their next victim. Ever since her mentor abandoned her, Maggie’s been going it alone. When a job brings her into contact with a monster whose behavior deviates greatly from the ones she’s been hunting for years, she stumbles upon a mystery. Someone is using witchcraft to create these creatures. With little to go on, Maggie must accept help from Kai Arviso, a medicine man in training whose amicable disposition is a far cry from Maggie’s often hostile personality. Their journey leads them to more questions than answers and closer to an enemy that may be impossible to kill.

Rare is the book that strikes a perfect balance between world-building and characterization, but Trail of Lightning does just that. Roanhouse’s post-apocalyptic setting sets the stage for a dangerous and unpredictable world. While much of the world outside Dinétah has been decimated, the reservation has protected itself with the Wall, meant to keep out the chaos that followed a series of environmental catastrophes. But resources inside the reservation continue to grow scarce and the Wall had no way of protecting the people from the monsters within. There are also the Diyn Dine’é, the “Holy People”, godlike beings who have once again emerged to play a role in the story of the Diné people. With the world taking new shape, many Diné have also undergone a metamorphosis. Supernatural abilities have manifested themselves in the form of clan powers. For Maggie, being part of the Honágháahnii (“one walks around) and K’aahanáanii (“living arrow”) clans, makes her unnaturally fast and an efficient killer.

Maggie has been training and hunting monsters for years, her drive is borne out of a tragic past when she lost the last person who truly cared about her. It’s easier for her not to care, to brush off the whispers behind her back, to close herself off from the world. But she is haunted by the fear that she will eventually become like the monsters she hunts and without someone to pull her back from these thoughts, it becomes a large part of who she is and affects how she navigates the world. Kai is an easy character to take a liking to. Gregarious and charming, Kai is the more efficient investigator. While Maggie is willing to spill a little blood in order to get answers, Kai tapers this instinct, showing her that reaching for her trusted Böker may not always be the best way to handle a situation. Their friendship is slow coming, but every small step forward feels like Maggie is pulled further out from the cage she has built for herself. It is through Kai’s eyes that Maggie slowly comes to realize that she can be more than the killer she was trained to be.

Roanhouse’s debut is easily my favorite book of year. Trial of Lightning captivates with its exhilarating action scenes, pulls you in with its multifaceted characters, and guts you with its epic ending. I cannot wait for more.

5/5

★★★★★

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11 thoughts on “Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhouse

  1. Trail of Lightning was fantastic! Have you seen the cover for the next book? It’s really lovely and I’m really looking forward to continuing to explore the world Rebecca Roanhorse has created. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, I have a cold, so my brain tried to add things to this story. When you wrote that she’s not good at anything but killing monsters, I envisioned her in the kitchen burning something in the oven. Then, by the end of the book, she kills monsters and can bake her own bread. Granted, I’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show and my head is fuzzy. I definitely made myself giggle. I like that the book doesn’t shy away from Native American words. Having grown up on a reservation, I can tell you the language is intimidating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you are feeling better! I got a cold right before Christmas but luckily it passed before the holidays hit. The character is actually a really bad cook, so burning something in the oven is not out of the realm of possibility. I did not know this about you, very interesting.

      Like

      1. It’s a somewhat disingenuous comment: I’m a white person who lives on a reservation. Individual land can be sold to anyone, but it’s all on the rez. However, I knew loads of Ojibwe people growing up, have gone to numerous powwows, and learned a bit about the language and culture. It’s complicated. Basically, they describe things, which becomes one long word, instead of assigning it a word. So, Apple pie is mishiimini-biitoosijigani-bakwezhigan.

        Liked by 1 person

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