Series: The Sixth World #1
Published by Saga Press on June 26, 2018
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Genres: Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Own Voices, Diversity, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Action & Adventure
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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.
While this is only the first book in a series, I’m confident that Trail of Lightning will debut as a top Urban Fantasy book. The writing is absolutely captivating and my eyes were glued to the pages until 2 am in the morning, when I finally got to that climactic ending. Roanhorse does a fabulous job of creating three-dimensional characters in a refreshing dystopian world where ancient powers have come back after a multitude of natural disasters throughout the globe. I loved seeing the Navajo stories interweaved in the plot and the sneaky machinations of the immortals. Maggie is such a fierce, brutal main character who can be caustic at times, but ultimately triumphant. There’s a slight romance, incredible character development, and overall an introduction to a frightening world in the future where monsters lurk the earth.
But it was a narrow road that I walked. I had to be vigilant not to let it grow, not to feed it unnecessarily. Because my fate wasn’t decided yet. I could be a monsterslayer, or I could be a monster.
On Dinétah, the Navajo reservation where the book takes place, gods, heroes and monsters appear and disrupt the balance of the area. Resources are scarce due to the long drought taking place, and even coffee is a rare commodity to be savored. Maggie lives in such times and used to train with a great warrior and immortal being. However, he suddenly leaves her on one of their adventures and she spends months wallowing in a depression. The book begins on her ninth or so month of isolation, when she finally steps out of her trailer to catch a monster that stole a local girl. This monster turns out to be a golem, or a creature fabricated from someone with dangerous powers. Maggie thus starts her journey to trace back to the origins of the creature and stop the evil presence from creating more monsters.
The Navajo legends and stories are weaved perfectly throughout the plot. The incorporation of clan powers, which some people have depending on their heritage, also make for an awesome magic/power system. Maggie’s two clans are Honágháahnii and K’aahanáanii – “Walks-Around” and “Living Arrow” – meaning she has super speed and an affinity for killing people. This affinity has made her shaped like a weapon, both emotionally and physically. Maggie isn’t good at letting people in, and she doesn’t have any friends. She has a tough exterior that exudes sarcasm and defenses, but that only really hides how soft she is on the inside. I adored her character, flaws and all, and the development that she goes through in the book.
‘Diné way of life is k’é, kinship, like this’ – he weaves his fingers in and out, bringing his hands together as if to pray, and then splays his palms open while keeping his fingers intertwined – ‘but you, your life is all separate.’
Helping Maggie out is a medicine man-in-training, Kai, whose grandfather is one of the few close people that Maggie has in her life. Kai is ostentatious and suave and social – a complete contrast to Maggie’s personality. He also has some useful and mysterious powers though, which makes him a good partner for her journey. I really enjoyed their relationship, especially as Maggie was incredibly wary of Kai when first meeting him. But she slowly – veryyy slowly – opens up as she gets to know him, and Kai takes in her character, causticity and all. He’s very understanding of the hardships Maggie has gone through and accepts her rather than condemns her. Sometimes it takes a person understanding you to realize that you’re not the monster people seem to think you are.
‘Being a hero’s not about being perfect. It’s about doing the right thing, doing your best to get the people you care about home safely. You were willing to sacrifice yourself to do that. I don’t care what you say to try to negate that – I was there. I saw it.’
And yes! Obviously I have to mention the sweet, slow-burn romance. It’s honestly super slow, mostly because Maggie still has residue feelings over someone (who is very irrelevant). I thought it was the perfect pacing though, making room for character growth and plot. Everything about Kai and Maggie’s contrasting personalities make them that much more compatible – and good – for each other.
Trickster immortals, fearsome monsters, and devastating powers. This book took standard Urban Fantasy tropes and storylines and rewrote them with an inventive and refreshing outlook. I believe this is also an #OwnVoices story for the Native-American narrative, which makes it that much more awesome. (Yes, I’m looking at you, UF book genre with predominantly white authors.) The perfect blend of action, romance, mystery, and cunning makes this an exhilarating read that adventure-seekers need to pick up NOW.
Content/Trigger Warnings: abusive/manipulative relationship, torture, gore, abuse, explicit violence
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thank you Saga and Netgalley for the review copy!