Trail of Lightning

Trail of Lightning

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—...

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Title:Trail of Lightning
Author:Rebecca Roanhorse
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Trail of Lightning Reviews

  • Bradley

    I think this novel has been a LONG time coming and I'm glad it's here. Now.

    My only concern is that this UF series came out so late in the whole UF cycle thing. I needed this a decade ago. I needed a full American Indian mythological romp with Coyote and so many fantastic supernatural additions to my reading schedule!

    Not just fae and vamps and druids and wizards... I needed THIS!

    That being said, I really liked it. :) Flooding took out most of the world and it was like coming back home to New Me

    I think this novel has been a LONG time coming and I'm glad it's here. Now.

    My only concern is that this UF series came out so late in the whole UF cycle thing. I needed this a decade ago. I needed a full American Indian mythological romp with Coyote and so many fantastic supernatural additions to my reading schedule!

    Not just fae and vamps and druids and wizards... I needed THIS!

    That being said, I really liked it. :) Flooding took out most of the world and it was like coming back home to New Mexico, one of the few places to survive the wipeout and the breakdown of society.

    So here we are... post-apocalyptic breakdown with a tight, tight supernatural native American pantheon coming to life. :) And I love Maggie. :)

    No spoilers. I will say that the plot is solid as hell and the magic is gorgeous and the action delightful. It's a primo UF that delivers on the fun factor, the mythological factor, and the character factor. :)

    Definitely looking forward to the whole series.

  • Hannah

    I have been excited for this book ever since I found about it – and it did not disappoint me at all. Rebecca Roanhorse has created a seriously cool, very much needed different Urban Fantasy here that makes me very excited for what is to come.

    Living in a post-apocalyptic Dinétah (formerly the Navajo Reservation) where gods and demons walk the world, Maggie is a grim, lonely, super strong woman. She is a monster hunter with not much to live for, she is snarky and broken, and while I found her fair

    I have been excited for this book ever since I found about it – and it did not disappoint me at all. Rebecca Roanhorse has created a seriously cool, very much needed different Urban Fantasy here that makes me very excited for what is to come.

    Living in a post-apocalyptic Dinétah (formerly the Navajo Reservation) where gods and demons walk the world, Maggie is a grim, lonely, super strong woman. She is a monster hunter with not much to live for, she is snarky and broken, and while I found her fairly stereotypical for the genre I also found her believable and for the most part easy to root for, which is pretty much all I ask for in my UF.

    The pacing is breakneck with never a slow moment and I pretty much inhaled the book whole. But, and this is, if I am being honest, a quite big negative, I did not get along all that well with the plot, I found it in places difficult to follow, I thought the characters often were sent from A to B without it being quite clear why that was. (also, if anybody has read this, can we please talk about that ending?!)

    The strongest part for me was, hands-down, the worldbuilding. It is brilliantly done, nicely woven and most of all just so very different to what I usually see. Every scene is done vividly, set in a nearly cinematic manner. The language works also really well to convey as sense of place. It is on the strength of that wonderful world that I cannot wait for the next book in the series – which will be released in about a year’s time.

    You can find this review and other thoughts on books on

  • Gary

    Originally posted at

    Early in Rebecca Roanhorse’s debut urban fantasy novel Trail of Lightning, protagonist Maggie Hoskie is talking to a couple whose daughter was stolen by a monster. The girl’s mother asks Maggie if she can save their child. Maggie responds only that she can find her, a distinction the desperate and grieving woman recognizes. Our first impression of Maggie is of a woman who believes that once evil touches you, it gets inside you and stay

    Originally posted at

    Early in Rebecca Roanhorse’s debut urban fantasy novel Trail of Lightning, protagonist Maggie Hoskie is talking to a couple whose daughter was stolen by a monster. The girl’s mother asks Maggie if she can save their child. Maggie responds only that she can find her, a distinction the desperate and grieving woman recognizes. Our first impression of Maggie is of a woman who believes that once evil touches you, it gets inside you and stays there. And it isn’t something Maggie just believes about little girls who get stolen by monsters – she believes it about herself.

    Plotting is never the main attraction in urban fantasy. Not that good storytelling isn’t important; it most definitely is. But the setting is the hook that draws you in, and the protagonist is the spark that lights the fire. Roanhorse nails both of those things with a vengeance. Trail of Lightning is set entirely in Dinétah, the Navajo Nation reborn after a combination of ecological catastrophe and mass energy crises caused mass flooding and worldwide collapse. The devastation ushered in the Sixth World, the return of the gods and monsters and heroes of Navajo legend to the mortal world. For Maggie, it activated clan powers deep in her lineage that make her Living Arrow, or, really good at killing.

    When Trail of Lightning starts, golem-like monsters are terrorizing families throughout Dinétah, and Maggie is on the hunt for the witch responsible for creating them. Grandpa Tah, an adoptive father figure for Maggie, thinks she needs a partner and hooks her up with his grandson Kai. At first, Maggie is downright hostile to the idea of having a partner, but Kai seems to have an uncanny talent for persuasion and soon proves himself useful. But before they can make any headway, the trickster god Ma’ii, an old “frenemy” of Maggie’s, shows up with a side quest for Maggie and Kai, a seemingly unrelated ploy for Maggie’s attention that does, however, provide her with some important tools for achieving her goal.

    The main story of Trail of Lightning comes to a satisfying enough conclusion, though its digressions occasionally disrupt the novel’s pacing, and the answers basically just fall into Maggie’s lap at the end. Where it does succeed brilliantly, however, is in drawing the reader deeper into the mythology of the Sixth World, and into Maggie’s fascinating and blood-drenched backstory – her grandmother’s death at the hands of a witch, her toxic relationship with the legendary, immortal monsterslayer Neizghání. The novel became more a process of discovery for me, of Roanhorse’s world and the people who inhabit it, one that mines a rich vein of emotional and visceral impact and left me wanting more.

    Many thanks to Edelweiss and Saga Press for the opportunity to read this ARC.

  • Peter Tillman

    A promising debut. The author has done her homework (and life-work!), knows the territory, and her award-winning "AUTHENTIC INDIAN EXPERIENCE" shows off her writing chops. Her heroine is a Monster-Slayer! How cool is that? (OK, it's gory.)

    Always a pleasure to find a new writer of merit. Even better if she is from an underrepresented group. The novel's framework is boilerplate post-apocalypse. Oh, but the details, the lovely details!

    Things are warming up with the new boyfriend (who's something o

    A promising debut. The author has done her homework (and life-work!), knows the territory, and her award-winning "AUTHENTIC INDIAN EXPERIENCE" shows off her writing chops. Her heroine is a Monster-Slayer! How cool is that? (OK, it's gory.)

    Always a pleasure to find a new writer of merit. Even better if she is from an underrepresented group. The novel's framework is boilerplate post-apocalypse. Oh, but the details, the lovely details!

    Things are warming up with the new boyfriend (who's something of an indigenous Superhero):

    "Kai is staring at me, himself struggling to find words. “You look . . .”

    “Hired-gun hot?” Clive offers from behind me. “Bodyguard sex bomb?”

    “Please stop helping,” I mutter, and tug again at what’s pretending to be my shirt.

    Kai’s eyes never leave me, and I shift uncomfortably, heat rising on my cheeks. “Dangerous,” he says. “I was going to say you look dangerous.”

    She drives a 1972 Chevy 4x4 pickup truck, “cherry red and chromed out like the beauty queen she is." It can run on moonshine! And clan magic. The cover artist was paying attention! Classy.

    Coyote travels via lightning-bolts!

    "I take the trickster’s hand and look over at Kai, and despite the sorrows of the past few days, a grin breaks across my face. “I’ve always wanted to do this,” I admit. And then the smell of ozone fills my nostrils and the world ignites in flames."

    Well, the ending is seriously over-the-top. It is a first novel, after all. Spectacular ride up to the climax (but no resolution, sigh), with a hook for the sequel. Which I definitely plan to read, when it goes on sale next year.

    You're likely to appreciate the setting more if you know the Indian country of the American Southwest. But I don't think that's a prerequisite. Just as in the Tony Hillerman novels, you learn a fair bit about Navajo culture, customs & religion. Except Roanhorse got hers firsthand, from her Navajo husband. And some of the religious stuff gets done up with Horror tropes. OK, a few times Hillerman did that, too.

    Indigenous Superheroes are a pretty Big Thing among younger Native artists, especially in northern New Mexico. Sample, "Pueblo Superhero":

    And another: "When Titans Collide" by Diego Romero:

    Thanks much to Saga Press for the E-arc, which I requested. Author's pitch & the cool cover art:

    "The elevator pitch was an “Indigenous Mad Max: Fury Road.” I think that really captures the pacing and the sensibility of the book. This is an all-out breakneck apocalyptic adventure ..."

    Essay on real-world apocalypses:

    Dark humor: "Kill the Indian, save the dreamcatcher. Hang it from your spaceship’s rearview window."

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    A strong 4 stars, pushing 4.5, for this Nebula award-nominated novel! Review first posted on

    :

    Maggie Hoskie, the prickly heroine of Rebecca Roanhorse’s

    , and I took a couple of tries to really hit it off. I read a few chapters of this book several months ago but stalled out and put it aside. But when the announcement of its Nebula award nomination happened to coincide with a cross-country plane flight, I picked up this again and ended up loving it.

    A strong 4 stars, pushing 4.5, for this Nebula award-nominated novel! Review first posted on

    :

    Maggie Hoskie, the prickly heroine of Rebecca Roanhorse’s

    , and I took a couple of tries to really hit it off. I read a few chapters of this book several months ago but stalled out and put it aside. But when the announcement of its Nebula award nomination happened to coincide with a cross-country plane flight, I picked up this again and ended up loving it.

    is a gritty magical fantasy set in Dinétah, the nation of the Navajo people, in a near-future, post-apocalyptic world. Much of the world is now underwater due to a sudden catastrophe (the “Big Water”) caused by a convergence of global warming and other ecological disasters, some ten or so years before this story begins. In this “Sixth World” setting, portals to other, magical planes have been reopened and both the gods and monsters of the Navajo legends are once again an active part of our world, and the always-respected ancestral clans of the Diné or Navajo people carry new weight, with many clans now gifted with magical powers that are specific to that group. Dinétah is now magically surrounded by 50-foot walls to protect it against the dangers of the outside world. Too bad about the monsters within … But they do give Maggie Hoskie lots to do once she breaks out of the months-long funk she’s in at the start of the novel.

    Maggie Hoskie is a magically gifted Navajo young woman who reminded me strongly of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels, except Maggie is angrier and in a darker place mentally. She is a monsterslayer, gifted with supernatural swiftness from her Honághááhnii clan and fighting skills from her K’aahanáanii clan, but Maggie feels like she herself also is, or may become, a monster, dangerous to anyone she lets close to her. So she pushes everyone away. But when Maggie kills a murderous golem-like monster and begins to search for its origin, she finds she needs help. Kai Arviso, a young medicine man in training, and the trickster god Coyote both get involved in Maggie’s unconventional and dangerous investigation.

    The main draws of this urban fantasy are the imaginative and authentic-feeling Navajo setting and characters. Though Roanhorse’s heritage is a different tribe (she’s part Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo), the setting and Maggie’s narration never falter. The narrative is spiced with lots of Navajo words that aren’t always translated (tip: I could have used a glossary), but Rebecca Roanhorse’s writing is excellent and often evocative.

    There are a few drawbacks in the storytelling: The plot meanders somewhat as Maggie gropes her way toward a showdown with the maker of the monsters and her antagonists. As the mystery unraveled, I thought that the final reveal was a little murky in its rationale, so the mystery and its resolution didn’t entirely hold water for me. I did appreciate how what initially appeared to be somewhat of a love triangle ended with Roanhorse turning that trope on its head.

    is a gritty novel with many dark, disturbing scenes. The second chapter ends with a distressing choice by Maggie, especially since the need for that choice is arguably undercut by reveals toward the end. But this novel has scenes of light and hope as well, and I enjoyed immersing myself in this world. I’m definitely on board for

    , the next book in THE SIXTH WORLD series, to be published April 23, 2019.

  • Kathy

    I had an incredibly hard time sorting out my feelings on this book and I don’t know if I can say that I succeeded. There are many aspects of it that I absolutely loved, but also ones that I really disliked. And the two overlap one another, leaving me conflicted and with a frown line that’s about to become permanent.

    Let’s just begin with all the things that I loved. A Trail of Lighting is a post-apocalyptic fantasy that revolves around Native American culture and history, written by a Native Amer

    I had an incredibly hard time sorting out my feelings on this book and I don’t know if I can say that I succeeded. There are many aspects of it that I absolutely loved, but also ones that I really disliked. And the two overlap one another, leaving me conflicted and with a frown line that’s about to become permanent.

    Let’s just begin with all the things that I loved. A Trail of Lighting is a post-apocalyptic fantasy that revolves around Native American culture and history, written by a Native American author, and for that alone it deserves recognition. Roanhorse deftly weaves Navajo mythology into a Mad Max-esque world and the result is unique and exciting.

    The characters that inhabit this world are strange and vibrant. From mercenaries and medicine men, to a woman who manifests as a cat-person (and I don’t mean that she really loves cats; I mean that she has facial features and mannerisms of a cat), the story occasionally dips into a Wonderland-level of creepy and weird and I adored it to bits. And what I always look forward to in Aboriginal speculative fiction is the depiction of Coyote, the trickster figure. Because he varies from one culture to the next, no two authors write him quite the same way, and Roanhorse’s version doesn’t disappoint. With appearance and mannerisms reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi in American Gods–irreverent and dressed as a dandy–he’s probably my favourite side character.

    The best urban fantasies have strong, distinctive narrative voices and this one has that in spades. Maggie’s narration is introspective, a little anti-social, and a little smoky–a-lone-ranger-staring-across-the-desert-as-the-sun-sets kind of vibe. The author uses a lot of fragmentation, which can sometimes make for choppy action sequences, but all in all, it’s highly readable and engaging.

    She’s a monster hunter gifted–or cursed, in her opinion–with the power of speed and the ability to kill. This makes her feared and disliked by many. The entirety of the story (and probably the rest of the series) is her struggling to rein in her clan power, known as “K’aahanaánii”, and keep its bloodlust from consuming her. And the thing that I especially love is that Maggie, to some level, enjoys the killing. She loves the adrenaline and the control of it, and that comes with the baggage of guilt and self-hatred. And that’s one of my favourite kinds of stories–those of powerful men and women whose power is a double edged sword, one that comes with the risk of being devoured from the inside out. It adds extra layers of internal conflict that can potentially be catalysts for interesting character growth.

    “Wow, that all sounds fantastic,” you might say. And you’re right–it

    pretty fantastic!

    And now here come the criticisms to rain all over this parade.

    Let’s talk about the plot–or rather, the lack of one. While there’s a vague overarching goal that gets introduced at the beginning of the story, Maggie and her companion Kai spend most of their time doing the literary equivalent of accidental side quests. They travel from point A to point B, at which point something happens and they’re forced to deal with it before moving on. They end up having to constantly react to the things that happen in the world, as opposed to proactively moving the plot forward. And while some of the diversions are fun, it’s all very meandering and lacks cohesion.

    Secondly, the antagonist. At the foundation of the story is Maggie’s relationship with her former mentor Neizgháni, who Maggie is kind-of-sort-of-maybe in love with. He’s built up to be this mysterious presence looming above our MC, and so much of her thought process and behaviour are rooted in this relationship that they’d had. Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to meeting the man.

    So imagine my bafflement when Neizgháni finally makes his entrance and he turns out to be the

    He falls under the Kylo Ren column of character archetypes–the ones who strut around with their capes (or hair) billowing and saying things like, “Join me and we will set our thrones atop the corpses of our enemies and bathe in their blood,” with zero hint of irony. For someone who’s had so much impact on the protagonist’s life, he felt incredibly shallow and campy. Picture a very pretty, very vapid Final Fantasy villain and you won’t be far off from Neizgháni.

    The thing is, I don’t mind these types of characters too much in popcorn paranormal fantasy. With those, I enjoy the campiness for what it is. But a story with worldbuilding and a protagonist of this caliber deserves someone a lot better.

    The ending also adds another bewildering layer to the story. Its big reveal is underwhelming and the motivations of the villain rather nonsensical, and moreover, it ends incredibly abruptly and on a not-insignificant cliffhanger.

    And here’s the most confusing part of all this: I don’t dislike the book. While I did dislike so many of its individual parts, as a whole I kind of enjoyed it and actually find myself looking forward to the sequel.

    Is it the most polished, exciting fantasy I’ve read this year? No.

    Is it something I would recommend to people? Hell yes.

    ~

  • Elena

    A dystopic urban fantasy set in a future where a good part of the world has drowned, resources are scarce and violently fought over, monsters and supernatural entities of various nature prowl around, with a Native American heroine written for a change by a Native American author? GIMME. And also...

    And that title! What could possibly go wrong with this one, right?!

    .......

    Well, ok - admittedly, nothing went

    : this is definitely a very nice addition to the genre and a much

    A dystopic urban fantasy set in a future where a good part of the world has drowned, resources are scarce and violently fought over, monsters and supernatural entities of various nature prowl around, with a Native American heroine written for a change by a Native American author? GIMME. And also...

    And that title! What could possibly go wrong with this one, right?!

    .......

    Well, ok - admittedly, nothing went

    : this is definitely a very nice addition to the genre and a much needed one: UF with POC at the helm of their own story instead of being "friends of", sidekicks and eye-candies is good news for every fantasy reader. But if you strip

    of its specific, original elements (the Native American lore, worldbuilding and characters, the environmental apocalypse and its aftermath - all aspects that make this book a very enjoyable and unique read for sure) at its core this is yet again a story about a dysfunctional young woman whose personality and life choices are being determined by the men in her life (specifically, by her

    ) - a story I've read a thousand times before, down to the mandatory scene where events force the badass heroine to get all dolled up so that the readers can be reassured about her

    physical value (

    ). *eyeroll* Because one of the lesser-known Aristotelian unities claims that if you are the heroine of an UF novel then you can't possibly be a well-adjusted human being, who knows how to dress and behave in public, with an active, rich social and sexual life, a paying job and a decent roof over your head: no, you must be a total wreck, a shell of a person who eats cold beans out of the can while standing up, waiting for a sexy, confident, successful man to come around and fix your life back in shape. Why. Why! I mean, I love reading about the odd ones out and the underdogs, but why do they always have to be the women?

    Maggie is in many ways a by-the-book kick-ass UF leading woman, but considering how much in her life seems to be dictated by the handsome dudes she hangs out with, I'd say ultimately her badassery is a pretty empty one: she has in fact

    little agency (because swinging a big knife around and killing monsters

    equate to have agency, no matter what many authors are desperate to sell us now that female representation is such a hot topic) which decided for a three stars rating. Too bad because she could have been a truly intriguing character - and she was, in fact, for the first half of the book, before her being an asocial grump with nihilistic tendencies and a violent attitude was revealed to be merely the result of her savior/mentor/object of lust ditching her. Women in fiction are rarely free to display unlikeable or difficult character traits that don't end up being hurriedly justified as a direct consequence of a past trauma or a heartbreak and Maggie isn't an exception.

    The plot is a bit chaotic - Maggie and Kai stumble around without much direction and in more than one instance the narrative loses its focus - but the worldbuilding is rich, evocative and original, the supernatural elements of the story wonderfully eerie and otherworldly and the author's writing fits the story to perfection: Maggie no-nonsense attitude is reflected in her narration and Roanhorse has a knack for chilling, scary scenes and action sequences.

    Long story short: Trail of Lightning is a good book which could easily have been a great one. Still, this is undoubtedly an interesting start of a new series and a recommended read for UF and fantasy readers. Will stay tuned for more: who knows? Maybe Maggie will grow tired of having her chain yanked around by the men in her life. The potential for her to be a great character is there after all: fingers crossed!

    Oh, also: I'm not at all sure about the "young adult" tag - it's true that Maggie and Kai are on the youngish side, but there's graphic violence aplenty here.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Read for the

    .

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  • Celeste

    Actual rating: 3.5 stars

    . It’s much easier to sink into a character’s story when they resemble you in some way. For centuries there was very little healthy representation of anyone outside of heterosexual white males of European descent.

    Actual rating: 3.5 stars

    . It’s much easier to sink into a character’s story when they resemble you in some way. For centuries there was very little healthy representation of anyone outside of heterosexual white males of European descent.

    There were exceptions, of course, but they were few and far between, and were often authored by women using male pseudonyms. That still left many groups utterly unrepresented, though. Thankfully, in the past few decades this lack has been addressed, and the variety of representation in literature has skyrocketed.

    When I first heard about this book, I was incredibly excited. I’ve thought for years that there was a lack in urban fantasy.

    Yes, some of these involve Coyote in some side plot, but he is but one of the many spirits and deities spread across a multitude of tribes.

    Roanhorse’s tale takes place within a walled Navajo reservation after an apocalyptic flood has destroyed much of the world beyond their walls. The flood unleashed a wave of magic upon the Navajo nation, magic that is ancient, that has slumbered for centuries but has finally returned. Not only do spirits and deities once again rove among men and monsters walk the earth, but the people once again possess powers based on their clans. Medicine men are once again imbued with great power and insight into the spirit realm.

    I have no Navajo blood in me, but my great-grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee, and my husband’s great-grandmother grew up on the Sioux Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.

    When our band went on tour, one of our stops was actually the Rosebud Reservation. Chris was able to visit some of the deepest roots of his family’s history, and we were able to see what Rez life was like. It was both one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and one of the saddest. History and culture and pride mingled with poverty and resignation. We both had incredible wells of conflicting emotions within us by the time we left.

    So, why didn’t I rate this book higher? The reason is twofold.

    Even moments that were meant to be humorous always held a tinge of bitterness. I understand that it was a dark situation and that the main character had known little joy in her life, but that level of darkness with no relief is difficult to stomach. Which brings me to my second issue: our main character. Maggie is a Monsterhunter, and she’s an utter badass. However, she was incredibly difficult to relate to.

    Since we were viewing other characters through her eyes, this affected the development of the supporting cast, as well. Maggie does loosen up some by the end of the book, and we are able to relate more to both her and the other characters more in the final few chapters than in the entire rest of the book. But by that point, the damage had been done;

    While this was an interesting story with pretty fantastic world building, I’m still uncertain if I’ll continue reading the series when the next book is released.

    Even if I don’t continue,

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    "an indigenous Mad Max: Fury Road" whom else is crying

  • Charlie Anders

    What an astonishing tour de force with thrilling action, fascinating characters and a near future vision of America that I've never seen before. Urban fantasy just got a whole new lease on life. The character of Maggie Hoskie grabbed me from the very first page, and her unfinished business with her former mentor, an immortal badass, is super compelling. This book surprised me over and over. While I was reading it, I kept saying it reminded me of the work of Ayize Jama-Everett, which is the highe

    What an astonishing tour de force with thrilling action, fascinating characters and a near future vision of America that I've never seen before. Urban fantasy just got a whole new lease on life. The character of Maggie Hoskie grabbed me from the very first page, and her unfinished business with her former mentor, an immortal badass, is super compelling. This book surprised me over and over. While I was reading it, I kept saying it reminded me of the work of Ayize Jama-Everett, which is the highest compliment.

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