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The Sixth World #1

Trail of Lightning

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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.

287 pages, Hardcover

First published June 26, 2018

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About the author

Rebecca Roanhorse

54 books8,076 followers
Rebecca Roanhorse is a NYTimes Bestseller and a Nebula, Hugo and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (formerly Campbell) Award for Best New Writer.

Her novels include TRAIL OF LIGHTNING, STORM OF LOCUSTS, STAR WARS: RESISTANCE REBORN, and RACE TO THE SUN. Her upcoming novel BLACK SUN is set to release 10/13/2020.

She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pug. Find more at https://rebeccaroanhorse.com/ and on Twitter at @RoanhorseBex..

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,492 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,575 reviews8,230 followers
May 16, 2019
The short version:

Kate Daniels fans need to give this one a try.

The long version:

Interesting world-building, taking off on the Native American idea of subsequent 'worlds' that happen with each upheaval (this concept is explained more later in the story). The integration with various Native mythologies--I think primarily Diné, although the world idea might be more universal--is very interesting and one of the aspects that will make this stand out for urban fantasy and supernatural fans. Setting is a post-apocalyptic world, after various environmental and political upheavals have fragmented what used to be known as the United States. Much of this is alluded to, but not well explained (yet--hints are that this will expand in the next book), which is actually one of my favorite ways for world-building to develop. 

The more problematic aspect for me is the main character, Maggie, aka 'The Monsterkiller,' who draws upon two different tribal 'gifts.' As a character, she feels very New Adult, with unresolved issues from her teen days, an unrequited crush, and a extra-generous helping of rage, denial and isolation standing in for the remaining development. It's a tired trope for me, but at least there seems to be some forward character development at the end. 

As fitting for new-adult development, there are issues of love/relationship that need to be worked out, although arguably, they aren't the primary focus for this book. That is to say, I'd not call this a relationshippy style of book, although I recognize that feelings of isolation/attraction and unresolved mentoring issues are part of the driver and underlying plot. I have a problem when these characters act jaded and knowledgeable but then remain willfully ignorant. In this case, she notes then ignores strangeness surrounding Kai, and plotwise, keeps getting interrupted before it's addressed. That's always an extremely annoying YA/NA move. Since the strangeness is telegraphed to the reader, the only one semi-surprised at reveal is the main character. 

In plotting, I found it to be a tricksy book, as befitting anything with Coyote in it. Though it starts ostensibly simple ('kill the monster'), it becomes more complex. Kind of like an Andrews plot, and like Kate Daniels, Maggie doesn't do much detecting--other people tell her what to do, or it moves forward because she antagonizes someone.

Writing is above-average, especially for a first book. It is in first person, present tense, which is unusual. I wonder if the present tense is a deliberate reflection of a Diné cultural structure. A lot significant amount of the story is description coupled with explanation. A sample section about Maggie and her friend:

"I like Tah, I really do, and he's the closest thing I have to a living relative. We aren't related, aren't even the same clan, but he calls me daughter. That means something.

I duck under the blanket and break into a grin. I can't help it. My trailer is shelter. It serves its purpose as far as a house goes, but Tah's hogan feels like a home, the kind of home they talk about in bedtime stories. It's a traditional hogan--one big room in an eight-sided building, walls made of long single-cut logs, tightly roped together and sealed with concrete. There's a cooking fire alread burning in the woodstove in the middle of the room, and the scent of pinon is so pleasantly sharp I can taste it on the tip of my tongue. Warm woven rugs in reds and oranges and browns hang from the walls in between aging picture frames filled with worn photos of smiling family members..."

Would I read it again? Possibly, to better absorb the world, because with such long paragraphs of description, it's tend to slide over them as the plot heats up. But I did buy the next for kindle. I'm not sure that the series is physical-space worthy, but this was a promising start.

Elena's brilliant review addressing the problematic feminism of the trope and how Roanhorse executes it: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,108 followers
May 19, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
March 23, 2019
A strong 4 stars, pushing 4.5, for this Nebula award-nominated novel! Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Maggie Hoskie, the prickly heroine of Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning, 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.

Trail of Lightning 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.
The forest surrounds me. Ponderosa and blue spruce spread across the high desert mountains, sheltering small badgers and mice and night birds. Pine trees scent the air, their fallen needles crunching softly under my feet. Insects drone happily in the cooling evening, buzzing near my ears, attracted to my sweat. There is a beauty here, a calmness that I savor. I will savor the bloodshed, too, no doubt, but this balance between earth and animal and self feels right. Feels true.
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.

Trail of Lightning 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 Storm of Locusts, the next book in THE SIXTH WORLD series, to be published April 23, 2019.

I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher, Saga Press, and Wunderkind PR. (Sorry it took so long for me to get to this!)
April 30, 2021

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This was a buddy-read with my friend, Deidra @ ShadeTreeReads, so make sure you check out her review, too!

I've been anticipating this one for a while because I heard it was good for people who like the Kate Daniels series and it is a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy that puts emphasis on Navajo/Dine culture.

The good:

The writing is very clean. The world-building, once I figured it out, is unique among its peers (although that isn't really a "positive," since, you know,: more rep of different cultures in UF would be nice). I thought the climate change event that triggered the undoing of life as we formerly knew it was interesting and love that the story revolves mostly around other Native American people. The heroine is a bad-ass who takes no prisoners and has cool powers and a scary knife.

The bad:

I feel like I spent huge swaths of this book waiting for Something to happen. And while that's the only bad, it was the main thing driving the story (or preventing the driving of the story), so it ended up impacting my enjoyment of the book a lot. Some people seem to enjoy the experience of just being immersed in something different, and if that's enough for you, you might like this. But by the time I finished, I kind of felt like the Kate Daniels comparisons might end up doing this book more harm than good because it really doesn't have the same pacing and the setting is totally different. KD is much more urban-centric (big cities, underground tunnels, etc.) whereas this one feels more like a remote Western. So apart from snarky first person female narrator, they really aren't so similar.

2 stars
Profile Image for Kathy Shin.
151 reviews121 followers
June 15, 2018
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.

Maggie herself is a fascinating and rather unconventional urban fantasy protagonist. 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 is 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 embodiment of the worst of the “bad boy antagonist” trope, complete with cockiness, possessiveness, no sense of personal boundary, and long, flowing dark hair. 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.

ARC provided by Saga Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews196 followers
March 12, 2019
Originally posted at https://1000yearplan.com/2018/06/28/t...

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.
Profile Image for Celeste.
933 reviews2,387 followers
July 13, 2018
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Representation is so important in fiction.. 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. Characters who fell outside of these restrictions tended to be only secondary characters, and were often portrayed as two-dimensional caricatures of the race or sex or religion they represented. 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. There are so many urban fantasy series that take place in the America, but few involve the culture that’s been here the longest: that of Native Americans. 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 found the whole Navajo mythos incredibly fascinating.

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. While our heritage might be generations removed, it’s something both of us deeply respect. 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. Roanhorse does a great job of capturing that duality of splendor and squalor in this first novel of her Sixth World trilogy.

So, why didn’t I rate this book higher? The reason is twofold. First, the book is almost unrelentingly dark. 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. Her unhappiness was so total, and she worked so hard to keep others out, that it was nearly impossible to feel much empathy for her because it was hard to get close to her. 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; it’s hard to care about the outcome of the story if you aren’t allowed to care about the characters until too late.

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. But I’m overly sensitive to darkness, and I have a feeling that there are many readers who will enjoy this story far more than I did. Even if I don’t continue, I have immense respect for Roanhorse and the representation she has provided for the Navajo people in particular and Native Americans in general.
Profile Image for Nicole.
750 reviews1,937 followers
April 29, 2021
2.5 stars

I was sold this book as a recommendation for all Kate Daniels fans. I love Kate. She’s my favorite heroine ever. So to compare a book to her is not something I take lightly.

Therefore, before I delve into the book review, I’ll tackle this point. Would I recommend it to KD fans? It depends on why they read KD.
— is it because of the world-building and magic system? A futuristic post-apocalyptic world where the old myths are alive? Sure, then. You’ll enjoy this book.
— is it because of the brilliant sarcastic awesome kickass smartass funny heroine? No? then, this book isn’t for you.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t read the 10 books, their novellas, and spin-off for the world-building. Although interesting, it was Kate that pulled me to this series.
Maggie was NOTHING like Kate.

This is also is NOT A YOUNG-ADULT book. I saw people shelving it as a YA. Maggie is not a minor and while we had no sex scenes, it’s more of a NA.

Having that cleared up, I will move on to the book’s content. It will be a combination of bullet points because I’ve read many reviews about this book and it seems that most agree on several points and I don’t have any new important thing to add.

✎ Starting with the good stuff, I liked the lore and the myths, especially since I am not familiar with it. mythologies and culture of native Americans so I found it very interesting and rich. It’s the strongest asset of this book.
✎ I wish however that we had a glossary of names because of this unfamiliarity. While I googled a few, I didn’t have my phone next to me all the time and it’s simply too much effort for a lazy person like me.
✎ The story wasn’t taking a definitive direction, sure we want to find the bad witch, but only relying on the coincidences to move the plot onward instead of personal initiative.
✎ The plot was weird in this sense, Maggie didn’t do anything, she was a passive MC only going where other persons are leading her, except in one case, but not even on purpose.
✎ I found a specific event very predictable because it was compared to KD, the fire? I knew something like that will happen to move the plot forward.
✎ Maggie is the cliché I’m bad, I have no one, I don’t deserve anyone, I need a boy to tell me I’m not bad blah kind of heroine. Which is fine if she wasn’t so monotonous… Reading from her perspective was no fun. She was serious most of the time. While I appreciated her few humor attempts (even if I didn’t find them funny), she wasn’t like Kate making fun of herself and the situation, well you know being Kate.
✎ The love triangle? I was dreading this tbh. I’m glad to report there’s not exactly one here and while Maggie was conflicted between two guys, it didn’t last long, I can’t say much without spoiling but I hope she doesn’t end up with any of them because while one is an asshole, she doesn’t have any chemistry with the other.
✎ The big reveal of the mentor was so meh. his actions made no sense to me.
✎ The end was a bit confusing and illogical?

All in, the only thing I liked about this book was myth and maybe old Tah. But other than that, I found it very average and I didn’t care about the characters at all. I couldn’t even read it in one sitting although it’s a short book. I’m dropping my 3 stars rating to 2.5 because seriously… while I didn’t hate anything about it, I didn’t enjoy it except towards the end but that’s not even a feat. I wrote this review after a week of reading the book and while after finishing it I considered reading the sequel, I feel now so uninterested since nothing stayed with me.

Profile Image for Overhaul.
319 reviews705 followers
June 21, 2022
La única razón por la que me jode escribir esta reseña es por la editorial RedKey. Pues nos está trayendo verdaderas maravillas. En ediciones muy cuidadas y de calidad que he disfrutado bastante. "Una Palabra Mortal" y "El Demonio de Prosperó " o que me espera como "La Triste Historia de un Hombre Justo".

Lamentablemente, este no ha sido el caso.

"Mientras la mayor parte del mundo se ha ahogado bajo la súbita subida de las aguas de un apocalipsis climático, Dinétah (antigua reserva navajo) ha renacido. Los dioses y los héroes de leyenda caminan por la tierra, pero también lo hacen los monstruos.

Maggie Hoskie es una cazadora de monstruos de Dinétah, una asesina con un don sobrenatural. Cuando un pequeño pueblo necesita ayuda para encontrar a una niña desaparecida, Maggie es su última -y mejor- esperanza. Pero lo que Maggie descubre sobre el monstruo es mucho más grande y aterrador de lo que podría imaginar.

Maggie, a regañadientes, solicita la ayuda de Kai Arviso, un curandero poco convencional, y juntos viajan por el lugar desentrañando pistas de antiguas leyendas, intercambiando favores con embaucadores y luchando contra la oscura brujería en un mundo donde casi ha desaparecido la tecnología.

A medida que Maggie descubre la verdad detrás de las desapariciones, tendrá que enfrentarse a su pasado, si quiere sobrevivir.

Bienvenido al Sexto Mundo"

Maggie Hoskie, cazadora de monstruos con un don a la par que una maldición de poderes que proceden de un linaje muy antiguo. Fue entrenada en el arte de cazar y matar. Lo suyo es algo más que un talento. Y se ha convertido en el eje central toda su vida, sencillamente lo ha abrazado. Eso piensa su mentora, la inmortal y legendaria Neizghání, que desaparece una noche dejando a Maggie sola.

Viviendo en una pequeña granja y aceptando sencillos y pocos trabajos está cerca de tocar fondo. Hasta que uno de los monstruos por el que la contrataron para cazarlo, resulta ser algo nuevo.

Realmente estaba enganchado y con muy buenas sensaciones cuando empecé la historia, de manera vívida. Con un interesante planteamiento. Con acción visceral y un mundo bien dibujado.

A medida que avanzaba el libro fui testigo de una mitología muy antigua que ha existido durante siglos pero que es nueva para mí, y disfruté de las formas en las que su autora Rebecca Roanhorse dio vida a la magia y a todos los seres de esta mitología nativa.

Pero es que a medida que la trama avanzaba, los tropos se acumulaban por doquier y la voz en primera persona del personaje principal seguía sin sentirse auténtica. No me gustó. La autora tiraba de los hilos de su trama y lo malo es que se notaba. Ves venir las cosas. Una inmensa mayoría de ellas.

Fallando en encontrar ese punto concreto, ese ligero y esencial equilibrio de no revelar demasiado pero tampoco sobreexplicar las cosas. Terminé cada vez más frustrado a medida que avanzaba. Desafortunadamente y sin remedio me salí de la historia.

Los giros en la trama dejaron de llamarme y de transmitirme. Me ha decepcionado bastante. Le tenía ganas de leer este libro por las cosas que había leído sobre su trama, ambientación y mitología.

Historias, culturas y mitologías que siempre han existido, tan antiguas, y que han sido descuidadas en nuestra literatura o, peor, usadas y convirtiéndolas en clichés.

Mi problema con este libro es la desafortunada contrariedad que hay entre su contenido e ideas muy originales y su escritura o maneras a la hora de plasmarlas y darles forma en sus páginas. Por un lado, es innovador. Un logro en este caso bastante difícil de conseguir. Una fascinante construcción del mundo desde los monstruos a los cazadores de monstruos, es interesante y original lo que crea y propone su autora.

Lamentablemente aquí otro enorme fallo se me manifestó como lector y se trata de su estilo de narración. Fue extremadamente simplista y repetitivo, fallando más la primera mitad que la segunda. Y la primera mitad es fundamental para el lector en su inmersión en la trama.

El personaje de Maggie si bien es cierto que va avanzando buena parte del libro se sintió ausente. Para mi no está terminada de pulir. Una vida y pasado traumáticos habiendo sido manipulada. Me faltó algo.

Es un personaje que no me ha terminado de convencer. Difícil, en una lucha por y consigo misma. Tan fría como errática y a ratos es antipática. No hizo click conmigo y lo malo es que ni me ayudó en su lectura, todo lo contrario. Ya con las demás cosas que no me gustaron se me hizo una bola.

Los arcos de los personajes me flojearon un poco, personajes que toman decisiones que no tienen sentido con la sensación de que sólo pasa para que estén donde la autora los necesita para su final. Las relaciones entre los personajes no me transmitieron nada, llegaron a importarme una mierda. Me ha decepcionado, esperaba mucho más de esta historia.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,082 followers
August 28, 2022
Esten libro tiene algo que me enamoró: el worldbuilding que crea la autora, referente a las leyendas y mitologías de los nativoamericanos y cómo las integra en un futuro postapocalíptico realmente interesante.
Esa parte de la historia me parece una pasada, innovadora en muchos aspectos, con esa mezcla de dioses, héroes antiguos con los poderes de los clanes, monstruos y demonios. Cuando empecé a leer el libro me recordó algo al estilo de 'American Gods' o 'Ring Shout'... en cambio, según avanza la novela para mi se fue desinflando mucho.
Creo que la historia, que arranca por todo lo alto termina perdiéndose en la búsqueda de un brujo que es una excusa para desarrollar una cansina historia de amor y terminar resolviendo todas las incógnitas de manera apresurada y evidente.
No sé, quizás sea precisamente que este libro bebe mucho de la estructura de libros juveniles clásica pero dándole un punto muy adulto (es oscuro, hay mucha sangre y muerte), pero al final está lo de siempre, el trauma infantil, la protagonista aislada que se siente inferior, el guaperas de turno que no es lo que parece (como odié a este personaje)... son todo elementos que me cansan mucho, y he visto ya demasiadas veces.

Así que aunque el envoltorio me encantaba, la historia en sí terminó por no interesarme mucho.

Recomendable si buscais una lectura ligera, entretenida y con mucha acción, aunque nada sorprendente, eso sí, si os gusta la mitología como a mi ya solo por el worldbuilding merece la pena.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,633 followers
December 23, 2019
Excellent fantasy set in a post climate change era where the Native Americans have carved out their lands and very sensibly built a wall round them, and ancient clan powers are coming back. The folklore is used terrifically, the plot is engaging if a bit oddly paced, with most of the twists coming late on, the imagining is vivid and powerful, and the main characters are fab. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Profile Image for Hannah.
595 reviews1,055 followers
July 12, 2018
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 my blog.
Profile Image for Vina.
171 reviews
July 8, 2021
Sorry to be the splinter in someone's skin. I can't review this book like other reviewers, because my outlook and standpoint is entirely different from majority of the audiences. As a person of Dine descent, who was brought with a Dine traditional upbringing and with a professional mission in safeguarding our dine traditional beliefs, I was not a fan of this book. Apparently, I am not alone and this letter from the Dine Writer Collective did it best in capturing my thoughts and feelings about this book.

Dine Writer Collective Response to Trail of lightning

I really was excited for this book, but I was left disappointed and offended due to my personal and professional background. There's A LOT I could say, but I'll refrain at this time.
Profile Image for Charlie Anders.
Author 151 books3,791 followers
August 26, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,605 reviews2,309 followers
July 22, 2018
Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse is an amazing book! Set in the future after multiple Earth changing disasters and population decimating events, this has terrific world building! It's a fantasy with monsters, and people with "clan" given gifts born into them. Our main Gal of the story is good at monster killing. The native Indian lore of the Coyote is in here as a character, the trickster. This book has a lot of Indian legend and lore to it. Fascinating and exciting, many unexpected plot line that kept me guessing! Would love to see this as a movie!
Profile Image for R.F. Kuang.
Author 16 books37.9k followers
July 6, 2018
I've never read anything by Roanhorse that I didn't like. Completely lives up to the hype, and then some. It's not the sort of book you savor slowly over a few days. You read it all in one shot, and then put it down feeling like you've been hit in the head with a sledgehammer.

Thanks to Saga for an ARC on netgalley!
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,048 reviews1,383 followers
August 24, 2019
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

This was Kaleena's choice for my 10 bloggers, 10 recommendations challenge so let's see what it is about!
I should mention that my friend Rachel also recommended it!

“Everything you’ve done, your past, it’s all just a story you tell yourself. Some of it is true, but some of it is lies.”

🌟 I do not read much urban fantasy as I prefer high fantasy. I was recommended this by a friend and then Kaleena picked it for my 10 readers, 10 recommendations challenge and the rest is history.

🌟 The story is fast paced and the chapters were not long and I always say that this is my favorite combo, I keep reading one more chapter until I finish the book. This mix was here so that helped flying through this in less than 2 days.

🌟 The writing is not bad and I enjoyed it, the Navajo folklore was a new thing to me and so it was good to read something so refreshing. There were a lot of strange words that I don’t know how to pronounce and that’s why maybe the audio-book will help with that.

🌟 I do have mixed feeling about the world-building though, I like the magical system if it can be called so and the clans and all this stuff but at the same time the world was not explained very well and I wanted to know more, I guess part of it is because this is a 4 books-series and much will be delivered later.

🌟 The characters are cool, I like Maggie, she was powerful and interesting and not annoying (I do say this a lot when I notice it because many authors do not know the limit between teenagers whining and being a crybaby!). Kai was also very good, I think I preferred him to Maggie and the rest of the characters were well written too.

🌟 The plot is also kind of lacking, the story jumps into side-requests for most of the time and that brought some interesting characters and monsters but I needed a destination and something to look for but that was overshadowed by those quests and to get back on track, the author weaved some coincidences to the story.

🌟 Summary: I think this is a good book especially for anyone who wants to discover this genre with good writing, new folklore and nice characters, the plot and world building could have been better but it was still a wild ride. I do not know if I am continuing the series as 4 book series have all been disappointing for me and I consider that an unlucky number now.

you can get the book from here: Book Depository
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
557 reviews142 followers
September 17, 2018
Wow, this is tremendously exciting and action packed urban fantasy. The Sixth World is awesome. I loved it and can't wait for the next one!
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,685 reviews347 followers
August 26, 2018
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": https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e7/8b/...
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."
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,312 followers
November 4, 2019
I think my biggest issue with this is the divide between original content and writing skill. On one hand, this was innovative and fascinating in the world building. The construction of monsters, monster hunters, and the entire post Big Water world was deeply engaging and it is what kept me reading.

But I think the failure here comes through in how well it was written. The writing style was extremely simplistic and repetitive, the first half failing more than the second. Character arcs feel constructed beforehand, some characters making decisions that don't make sense just so that everyone can be where the author needs them to be for the final scenes. It makes relationships feel more distant, arcs less interesting.

I know that this book has been lauded and hailed, and I absolutely never want to take away from that because of how big a deal this release was, so I'm going to chalk this up to a me thing and hope that maybe I get along better with this author's future work.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,644 reviews1,512 followers
April 25, 2019
Buddy read 15April2019 at


3.75 "sometimes the ones we call our heroes are the greatest monsters of all" stars

This book actually surprised me. I’m kinda over most dystopian type books and YA and I don’t really have a huge interest in books with Indian culture elements in them so I wasn’t expecting a lot from Trail of Lightning with all of these, but I ended up really enjoying the story Rebecca Roanhorse told.

Maggie is a monster hunter, yes there are monsters of a sort in this new world after the great floods when magic started to leak back into the world. She is an Indian and due to both her clan heritage and a tragedy she has come into Clan Powers. Don’t worry, they don’t make her the chosen one or indestructible or anything like that, but they do kick in when she is in danger and they are useful.
But I’m no hero. I’m more of a last resort, a scorched-earth policy. I’m the person you hire when the heroes have already come home in body bags.

Maggie has an interesting past the is fed to the reader in small doses. She lost her Grandmother and was taken in by an Immortal who taught her to kill the monsters and was her mentor, her father figure and the only being she has much contact with in four years. Her feeling for him are complicated, especially since he just disappeared from her live about a year ago and never came back.

There are some new dangerous monsters around, the kind Maggie has never seen, when she goes to ask the medicine man about them, she reluctantly gets teamed up with his Grandson Kia to get to the bottom of the mystery of who has the kind of magic needed to make this new monster. Add to that Coyote also giving Maggie a quest of sorts and the story has quite a bit of stuff happening.
“You try what?” I snort. “Oh, so now you’re trying to help me? What you said before, that was meant to help me?”
Ma’ii stares at me flatly. “I know you do not believe it, but I am always trying to help you, Magdalena.”
“You are always trying to help yourself.”
“Can I not do both at once?”
“No, you cannot do both at once.”

Even I know that Coyote is a trickster and cannot be trusted, Maggie knows it too but she reluctantly takes on his quest as it seems that it should help her find the monsters too.

There is a lot happening in this world and I did enjoy the set up, the ideas of how the magic works and why many of the Indians made it through the floods. The world is both wonderous and terrible and I liked all the splashes of magic in it.
They say the hataałii worked hand in hand with the construction crews, and for every brick that was laid, a song was sung. Every lath, a blessing given. And the Wall took on a life of its own. When the workmen came back the next morning, it was already fifty feet high. In the east it grew as white shell. In the south, turquoise. The west, pearlescent curves of abalone, and the north, the blackest jet. It was beautiful. It was ours. And we were safe. Safe from the outside world, at least. But sometimes the worst monsters are the ones within.

Things got a little jumbled and rushed toward the end, but I will say I was a bit shocked by the solution Maggie and Kai came up with in regards to both Coyote and Maggie’s former mentor and immortal Monster Hunter Neizghání.

I very much look forward to the second book in this world as you can see all the potential that Rebecca Roanhorse has. This being her first novel, sometimes the writing seemed slightly choppy in places, but the ideas are captivating and so I was invested in learning more about this world. This is also a story with a lot of Indian names, which I’m not versed in so I was really glad the Audio for this is well done and the pronunciation really helped me out.

I’m glad I took a chance on this.
Profile Image for Aisling Zena.
635 reviews476 followers
September 24, 2020
3.75 stars

I love the idea that if the Apocalypse/End of the world/Catastrophic climate change happens, the ones to survive are the Native Americans. Talk about divine justice! I also loved all the lore and descriptions, a certain old medicine man, the powers of the respective clans and that this was written by an actual Native American.

The writing took some getting used to especially in the first chapters.It did smooth out more further down the book though. I think that maybe a glossary, with words and characters, at the beginning or end of the book would be handy especially for non-Americans like me. My other reasons for deducting stars is basically spoilers. The motives and reasons for some actions by certain characters just didn't make sense to me. I don't know if I read it wrong, if some things will be clearer or explained more in the second book or my brain just didn't see them even if they were right in my face...

But even with all that the world building and lore really sucked me in and I enjoyed getting into it a lot. If you love alternate universes and Urban Fantasy then this is the book for you. Especially for fans of Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels, Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson and Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock.

Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,634 followers
July 17, 2018
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/07/16/...

Trail of Lightning welcomes us to the “Sixth World”, a post-apocalyptic future in which our planet has gone through a number of drastic changes. Rising sea levels and devastating tsunamis have wiped out most of the earth’s coastal cities, killing billions and leaving only the inland regions and high elevations above water. In the southwest of what was once the United States, the Navajo Nation of Dinétah has survived, shielded by a magical barrier. However, their people too have seen plenty of hardship since the Big Water swept over the continent, isolated as they may be. Many of their legends have come to life, their gods and mythological figures made real. Unfortunately, these also included the monsters from their ancient lore, who are now loosed upon the land, preying on humans.

Enter our protagonist, Maggie Hoskie. Whenever there was a monster that needed killing, she and her former mentor Neizgháni, a monster slaying god of Native American legend, would take care of it together. But that was before Neizgháni abandoned her. Now on her own and feeling hurt and betrayed, Maggie ekes out a living by taking on contracts as a monster bounty hunter. The book begins as she is called upon to track down a creature that has snatched a little girl from a Dinétah village. Maggie follows the trail into the mountains, only to find that the creature is in fact a magical construct similar to a golem—the kind only a powerful witch can create. To find out more, she decides to seek out the help of her wise friend Grandpa Tah, but as it turns out, the old man has other ideas. After introducing Maggie to his grandson Kai Arviso, a Medicine Man in training, Tah persuades Maggie to take the young man along with her on her monster hunt, convinced that their skills will complement each other. Reluctantly, Maggie agrees, and together with her new partner, the two of them set out for the old tribal archives hoping to glean some clues as to who orchestrated the golem attack.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of books containing elements which have a basis in Native American myths and culture, especially in the urban fantasy genre. But rare it is to find a book like Trail of Lightning where indigenous characters and their lives are at the forefront of absolutely everything, including the story and setting. This book is set entirely within Dinétah—a relatively small area on a map, to be sure, but Rebecca Roanhorse makes it feel as though there are endless possibilities to explore. The world-building is fantastic, drawing upon the Navajo perspective to flesh out the history and atmosphere of the setting. I also loved the supernatural aspects, which we got to see a lot more of as the plot unfolds. It’s like every time you turn the page, the world opens up a bit more. Fascinating people, incredible stories, and all kinds of extraordinary beings and creatures can be found in Dinétah, and I had a lot of fun discovering them all.

Maggie is also a wonderful protagonist. She’s a bit of an enigma when we first meet her, everything about her shrouded in mystery. She’s cagey about her past—and for good reason, since her history is full of pain and violence—but in time, she does start to reveal more about herself. I love her voice and take-no-nonsense attitude as she moves through life, ignoring the ugly rumors from the people who fear her for what she does. She also has great chemistry with Kai, even though he is her opposite in many ways. Truth is, the plot of this novel is actually quite basic and uncomplicated, but it’s the characters and their relationships that drive the narrative forward, keeping the momentum going and the reader interested.

Like most debut novels though, Trail of Lightning is not without its flaws. As I alluded to before, the story is rather simplistic, and paced somewhat unevenly. There were also predictable sections mixed in with plot developments that felt completely random. And while overall the world-building was fantastic, I still felt there were some gaps that needed to be filled, because I was left with a lot of questions. In terms of characters, the supporting cast could have been given more attention, though Maggie and Kai themselves were very well written. However, I also felt that their romantic relationship came on a little too fast and out of nowhere. The story’s antagonist was a bit of a disappointment as well, and I still have very mixed feelings on how the resolution to the conflicts played out.

But at the end of the day, I can’t deny I had a great time with Trail of Lightning. The book runs into a few hitches, but overall it’s a fast-moving and exciting plot with compelling characters and rich world-building that will keep you turning the pages quickly. I hope this novel will be the start of many more to come in the series, because clearly we’re only scratching the surface of the potential here. I look forward to returning to The Sixth World.
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,169 reviews1,143 followers
February 13, 2019
2.5 rounded down. Well. I am disappointed. I guess that happens when you read a work of the author first, know he/she/they could do better but then your expectation got smashed due to another, but weaker, story. I was impressed with Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience and could not wait till I read this novel.

It started really good, with the post-apocalyptic world (with a Wall! energy wars! water barons!), magical beings coming back (yep, this is a post-apocalyptic fantasy, the sub-genre I usually avoid, should have seen it coming, oh well, let's get back to the review). And yes, the fact that this is one of the #OwnVoice books I've been waiting to read, a native/indigenous voice nonetheless, with a kick-ass female main character, it really elevated my expectation. The first few chapters were really well written and immersive.

And then we met her hot, boyband-handsome, partner. It went downhill from there. It seemed that everyone she met tried to pair her with this new guy. Hello, where's the monster plot line? Can we go back to the main story? Not only I had to watch the duo got sidetracked here and there, I also had to roll my eyes repeatedly for the overbearing and grating romantic cliches that followed, including the obligatory scene in every romantic movie when the female lead got some makeover and....never mind, you know the drill. It did not get any better till the end.

Last but not least, I think this was raised in some reviews, while she's broken and messed-up with a dark past (what else is new), she kept being told by the men in her life on what to do and she just let them do that. Including of course the toxic relationship she had with her mentor, which could have been something interesting to explore from another angle. Here she got manipulated by basically everyone, and sorely lacked agency. It reminded me of Jessica Jones, another cliched character but her trauma was handled really well and she fought really hard not to be manipulated by anyone ever again.

Anyway, I was actually willing to downgrade my expectation halfway, thinking 'hey this could be one of my guilty-pleasure-urban-fantasy reads, like the Sookie Stackhouse novels that are so campy but delicious!' but nope. Maybe those days are over.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews2,005 followers
June 25, 2018
Loved this, can't wait for the sequel, GIVE ME MORE KAI AND MAGS (SORRY, MAGGIE)
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books468 followers
February 6, 2022
“Everything you've done, your past, it's all just a story you tell yourself. Some of it is true, but some of it is lies.”

So What's It About?

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.

What I Thought

If I could summarize Trail of Lightning in in just a few words, I think I'd say "what a romp." It's really just so ready to grab you and whisk you away on a well-told, exciting adventure that manages to bring something new to the table while also remaining true to some beloved staples and tropes. Admittedly I have read very little urban fantasy so I'm not especially well-equipped to compare this book to others of the same sub-genre. Those who have generally have good things to say, while also noting that Maggie's utter dysfunction as a human being as well as her prickliness and guardedness may in fact be tired tropes for UF protagonists. Truthfully there is only so much brooding about being a monster that you can take from your narrator before it starts to grow entirely passé.

What most people seem to agree upon, and what I certainly found to be true, is that Trail of Lightning excels in its portrayal of Diné mythology and culture. These characteristics are integral to the story in every regard, from the kinds of magic and power possessed by its characters to their dealings with supernatural beings, including fascinating and duplicitous gods. It also provides a refreshing take on the apocalypse (an inventive apocalyptic premise in 2018? It's more likely than you think!): Roanhorse is very clear about the fact that indigenous Americans have already had to survive through cataclysm in the form of genocide and colonialism, and therefore the beginning of the Sixth World means something very different to them:

“But I had forgotten that the Diné had already suffered their apocalypse over a century before. This wasn’t our end. This was our rebirth.”

If its strength lies in bringing a much-needed indigenous perspective to a genre that has a general dearth of such voices (and, might I add, benefits immensely from the infusion of Diné magic, monsters and mythology) then I think it falters slightly more when it comes to Maggie as a character. I think the best thing I can do is point to Elena's excellent review, where she describes some of the book's shortcomings in this regard. To summarize her points, Maggie possesses very little agency as a character and her actions and drives are more or less constantly dictated by the male characters who surround her. To this I'd add that the brutal cult murder of her grandmother before teenage Maggie's eyes was somehow, bizarrely, given less emotional weight in the story than her abandonment by her mentor/big-time crush Neizghani.

With that in mind, though, I'd also add that a big plus in the book's favor is that the current love interest-ish guy, Kai, is a total sweetie and the dynamic between him and Maggie is one that I can easily see enjoying as it continues to blossom into a romance (I HOPE?) I personally never tire of stories that involve gods causing chaos and interference in mortal lives, and I also happen to be a big fan of the twists that the book had in store towards the end. It certainly did not pull its punches regarding the incredibly difficult choices Maggie had to make over the course of the story, and I am eagerly anticipating seeing how a certain cliffhanger will be resolved next time around. 
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emma.
986 reviews1,006 followers
October 5, 2019
3.5 stars

Maggie Hoskie is a monster hunter, gifted (or cursed) with bloodline powers and trained to kill. It’s more than just a talent for death, it’s become her whole life, and one she’s embraced far too eagerly. Or so thinks her mentor, the immortal and legendary Monsterslayer Neizghání, who disappears one night, leaving Maggie to fend for herself. Hiding out on her small homestead and taking on bounty jobs, she’s close to rock bottom. Until one of the monsters she’s hired to kill turns out to be something terrifyingly new and she finds out her life can get worse after all.

I’m no hero. I’m more of a last resort, a scorched-earth policy. I’m the person you hire when the heroes have already come home in body bags.

This really isn’t the kind of book to dwell on the positives, happiness has been booted to the floor and repeatedly stomped on for good measure. The story revels in Maggie’s dark and troubled mind, a psyche battered by trauma and the mental manipulation of the person she loves. As a result, the real Maggie feels strangely absent. She’s a character not yet fully formed, more crafted by others than herself, and it makes her a difficult person to feel for. The author’s presentation of her violent and detached nature is erratic, reflecting the character’s own struggle for herself, but it creates a distance between us and her that’s hard to bridge. If anything, taking Maggie down the darker path of antipathy and having a genuine lack of feeling underlying the times when she’s pretty damn cold would make her all the more interesting, but it all feels like a front. And I don’t just mean the countenance the character presents to the world, I mean the dissonance between what the reader is shown and what we’re told, something that comes across as a kind of wrongness. It feels like we’re being lied to. Yet this is a story that deals with change- not necessarily the finding of self, but the reconstruction of it. The Maggie at the end holds so much more potential because she has overcome both the things that hold her back within the narrative, as well as the falsity accorded to her by the author. Hopefully the follow up will allow for more exploration of Maggie as a complex individual rather than someone restricted by the bad-girl-lost cliche the author employed here.

This is one of those books made interesting more because of the cultural and dystopian framework than any particular flair for plot or characterisation. Saying that, there’s no doubt it’s a fascinating world, with the tantalising magic of familiarity and difference that appeals so hard. Anyone who has read UF will have seen a lot of the tropes before but it’s surprising just how much a change of mythological and cultural background can make a difference. And even some of the weaker aspects of the book have their value. The meandering plot allows for information to be built up rather than dumped and while it slows down the pacing, it had the advantage of appearing more like a normal, if really hellish, work week. Of course, it also necessitated some handy throw-ins to save the day or get things back on track but whatever, if someone wants to whip out a bit of world altering magic at just the right moment, all power to them.

There’s a lot to like hidden within a rather messy experience, but despite my qualms, I still want to know what comes next.

ARC via Netgalley
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