Synopsis: 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.
“The forest around me is quiet and whatever judgment it makes of me, merciful or monstrous, it keeps to itself.”
When I first heard about this on Twitter, I knew it was one that I absolutely had to read! An urban fantasy with a Navajo protagonist that slays monsters? FUCK YES!
If you like snarky, self-loathing, badass characters with a tragic past.. look no further. This was Buffy meets Supernatural meets Wynonna Earp, sprinkled with Women of the Otherworld & Miriam Black. But diverse as fuck. Needless to say, I loved it!
And because I’m someone that always has to talk about covers & the artists behind them, major props to Tommy Arnold for killing it AGAIN with yet another badass cover! The lightning just pops in person! The artwork for the sequel looks even more gorgeous. Goddamn.
Trail of Lightning is set in Dinétah, the post-apocalyptic Navajo Nation that is reborn after the world was flooded. The flood, named Big Water, unleashed magic within their walls. Ancient gods now roam the earth, as do monsters. The catastrophic event also affected individuals. Certain people are able to manifest special abilities, which are known as clan powers. This was one of my favorite things about Trail of Lightning! It was obvious that Roanhorse spent a lot of time researching history, mythos & climate change, among other things.
Maggie is one of those that has developed a gift. She experienced deep trauma when she was younger, which activated her powers. Basically, she is *really* good at killing. There is a lot to unpack with Maggie & her backstory. We learn that she was mentored by Neizgháni, a monster slaying god. Something happens between them & eventually Maggie finds herself working alone as a bounty monster hunter. This is where the book begins & shit gets really real.
Trail of Lightning is a ruthless, bloody, intense read. But there are some truly lovely moments as well. Whenever the Navajo culture was brought up, you could feel the heart behind these stories. Especially when Maggie would talk about her grandmother. I found myself extremely nostalgic, thinking about my own grandmother & some of the traditions she taught me about her Native heritage. I couldn’t help but smile reading about Maggie’s nali baking bread.. something as simple as that brought up a wave of emotions for me, as I also learned to make bread from my nukumi (nanny).
“I unfold the towel that I keep my soft lump of dough in. I mixed it before I got the message to go to Lukachukai, so it’s still good. I dip my hands in the flour and pound out three pieces of dough pat-a-cake style, the slapping sound bringing back memories of my nali’s kitchen and the daily ritual of making bread.”
The mythology & lore were fascinating. I hope the second book goes into more detail with the worldbuilding, but I’m glad this debut wasn’t overloaded with information. It felt like just the right amount. Enough to captivate, but also make the reader want to know more!
“This wasn’t our end. This was our rebirth.”
I did have a few minor complaints (like the makeover scene.. WHYYY) but overall, Rebecca Roanhorse delivers in her blood-drenched debut! I’m super intrigued to see what’s next in the Sixth World!
(Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada for the copy!)