Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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.
I’m ignorant when it comes to indigenous people and culture (shameful, I know), so I jumped at the opportunity to read a fantasy novel where indigenous culture was the focus. Trail of Lightning is an exciting introduction to an interesting world with a kickass main character.
One aspect of the novel that doesn’t work as well as it should is the world building. The world is so deeply entrenched in Navajo legends, myths, and stories that having a basic working knowledge of their history is almost required before reading. Roanhorse doesn’t clearly communicate the legends, myths, and stories that are central to the novel. As a result, there were things that went over my head or didn’t click until several chapters later. This lack of clear world building did negatively affect my enjoyment of the novel since some key plot points were slightly difficult to understand.
As with the world building, the magic system in this world is tired to Navajo culture. Clan members are sometimes bestowed with powers. Maggie has the power of death. She’s able to kill effectively and efficiently. Her power almost becomes a burden as she’s forced to rein it in when it’s not needed. Roanhorse accomplishes the magic system flawlessly compared to the world building.
The main character, Maggie, is fierce, kickass, and deadly. She reminds me of Katniss in that she’s determined and fiercely independent. Maggie also reminds me a little of Celaena Sardothien in that she’s just as deadly if not more. I could sit here and compare her to almost every poplar YA heroine, but there’s something about Maggie that makes her unique. While most of her YA counterparts that are deadly eventually face a crisis of morality in terms of their killing, Maggie never does. It’s refreshing to read a character in the YA genre that isn’t bogged down by a by the numbers morality arc.
Overall, Trail of Lightning is a fantastic introduction to a captivating world full of complex characters. Throughout the novel, I had to put it down to research the Navajo people and culture for clarity and curiosity. Some may see this as a negative, but I see it as a positive. Anytime a novel forces me to see a different perspective or learn about a different culture, the novel has accomplished its job.
YA fantasy needs more books like this!
**I received an ARC via Netgalley for an honest review.