There are very few novels that revolve around Native American culture, especially fantasy ones. That is why I was so excited to be able to snag an ARC of Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse, at BookCon. I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint!
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.
- Kick-Ass Female Protagonist – Maggie is pretty much the Buffy of Dinetah. Her whole life revolves around slaying monsters and fighting the darkness that comes with her clan gift. She’s very hard and doesn’t let people get to close to her, which sometimes makes it hard for you to really care about her. However, I liked how there was some nuance to her character and that she wasn’t just some special snowflake, but rather was a borderline antihero (my favorite!). I will say that if you like your main characters to be really easy to like and root for, you may not connect well with Maggie here.
- Own Voices Native American Representation, WOOHOO!!! – I think we can all agree that Native American representation is severely lacking in literature. Luckily, Roanhorse does an amazing job of bringing Native American myths to life in this world. The entire story is set on a Navajo reservation and all of the gods and monsters come from traditional myths. It was definitely interesting to learn more about Native American culture, as it’s not something that I’ve really explored before.
- Totally Engaging Plot – The action starts from the very first page and never lets up. Even when there wasn’t much fighting happening, I didn’t find myself getting bored as you’re still learning about the world or the characters. You could definitely tell that Roanhorse was using this story as a way to introduce readers to Native American culture, which I really appreciated. For the most part, the plot flowed extremely well with only a couple of lulls at the beginning of the story.
- DARKKKKKK – Oh yes, this world is dark and bleak which makes for the perfect setting for a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy. The comparisons to Mad Max meets Buffy the vampire slayer definitely do have some merit here. Don’t expect unicorns and rainbows in this book, no no no.
- World-Building? – I will admit that I did have a little trouble understanding how this world came to be. There was a little information scattered throughout the book that mentioned how the Sixth World even came to be, but it wasn’t enough to ease some of the confusion I had. You’re basically thrown into this world and expected to already understand how it got to be this way, except you don’t. I’m still not sure how or why Native American gods and monsters are now free to roam the reservation or what their purpose is. I think Roanhorse could’ve explored this a little more. However, this is going to be a series so maybe some of my questions will get answered in the sequels.
- Lackluster Twist – This is really just a pet peeve of mine, but I thought that the “big reveal/twist” wasn’t at all surprising. A lot of books try to have twists at the end that sometimes fall flat as they’re too easy and were very easy to spot from the beginning, and unfortunately, that was the case for me with this book. But like I said, this is more of a personal bookish pet peeve of mine.
Overall, I thought this was a fun read. I loved exploring a different culture and diving into the myths of the Navajo. I’m really interested in seeing what happens next and can’t wait to learn more about this world.
Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars
Have you read Trail of Lightning? What did you think of it? Do you prefer darker novels to more upbeat ones, or vice versa? What are some other Native American inspired novels that you would recommend?