Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Rebecca Roanhorse crafts a wonderfully imaginative and unique post-apocalyptic tale. The Navajo (Dine) creation stories (much like many other Mesoamerican/native American myths), our current world, the fifth, is the result of a cycle of creation and destruction. Roanhorse continues this cycle with destruction of the fifth world in the near future. Arising from the destroyed fifth world, the Sixth World makes real the gods and legends of the Dine. Roanhorse plays with these stories and legends in delightful and frightening ways.
The former Navajo Nation reservation survived the destruction of the fifth world and become a distinct political unit: Dinetah. We are not told much about the world outside of the Dinetah—there are mentions of the Exalted Mormon Kingdom in parts of what was Utah and Arizona. But that’s it. Nevertheless, there are some hints that in other parts of the world that have survived the old gods, the gods of indigenous people have also become real as well. Hopefully we learn a bit more in later Sixth World novels.
The lead character, Maggie Hoskie, is a bad-ass with some incredible clan powers (another feature of the sixth world) that allow her to hunt and kill the dangerous monsters of Dine legend that now terrorize her people. She connects up with Kai, a medicine man with his own incredible powers. Together they discover some disturbing facts about these monsters and where they are coming from. (No spoilers, nothing here that is not on the book jacket.)
I really enjoyed the novel. It does just enough world-building and background without detracting from the pace and action of the main story. The characters: from the humans to the gods are well developed and interesting. I love the way Roanhorse plays with the mythology. It gives the world she is creating a refreshing feel and provides a rich well on which to draw. There is more to this world to explore; more stories to tell.
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