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Review: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning defies being neatly boxed into one genre.  Its post-apocalyptic urban fantasy and is written by a Native American about Navajo characters and concepts.  This was new ground for me as a reader and whilst I’ve read a lot of Urban Fantasy set in the US the vast majority has been written by caucasian writers and The Sixth World feels fresh and different. The world-building is superlative, evocative and immediate and a reason why we need more own voices out there for readers to engage with.

The main characters are drawn well and are both compelling and flawed.

Maggie is a tracker and a Dinetah monster hunter trained by Neizghání an ancestor/god figure to her people she is an outsider and the best tracker there is.  She is employed by some folks to find a missing girl. 

She has a good friend and ally Tah who is a monster expert he is her touchstone to her past and it is he who introduces her to our other main character Kai.

Kai is supposed to be a medicine man, but initially, Maggie doesn’t feel the potential. I love the rapport that grows between the two of them, having to learn to work together whilst things are going to hell around them.

She ends up trading favours with Coyote – trickster character and has to look after Kai a friend’s nephew a medicine man of unusual means.

The pacing is good, throughout the tension ebbs and flows building to a climactic showdown. The ending felt a little bit rushed but it felt like there was a lot more story to come and I’ve got high hopes of a sequel soon.

One thing I struggled with was having the lack of context with some words which were not familiar to me and weren’t always guessable contextually.  I would love a glossary to fill in some blanks so that I can learn something.  It is an excellent read and I certainly felt it had a lot to offer. 

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for providing a netgalley copy for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Jane Hanmer

Born in deepest darkest Shropshire. Currently living in Durrey. A reader of books, a watcher of theatre and film, a player of board games. Intersectional Feminist Pronouns: She/her


  • Kal @ Reader Voracious

    Great review, and I am glad you enjoyed this book! It was one of my favorite reads of 2018, and I am excited to say that the sequel surpasses this one in my opinion! I do agree a glossary would be neat, but I was able to mostly guess things for the most part – I generally feel the need to understand everything, but it didn’t bother me much here.

    • Jane Hanmer

      Jane Hanmer

      Hi Kal thanks for taking the time to comment, I loved that Roanhorse did something unique with her heroine. I will definitely pick up the sequel. I could mostly work out what unfamiliar language meant but it would be useful to be able to check at the end. I love a glossary.

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