Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail ofThe short and sweet version of this review is that I really loved Trail of Lightning and I can’t wait to read more of Maggie Hoskie’s adventures in this post apocalyptic world.  For a debut novel this is most impressive, gradual and layered world building, great pacing and characters that really do jump off the page.  For me, Roanhorse manages to introduce myths and legends in a way that breathes heart and soul into this world and not only that she makes you like the characters.  There may be gushing.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter.  As the story opens she is enlisted to help find a young girl who has gone missing.  This is a world where Gods and monsters roam with abandon and when Maggie finally catches up to the girl, high in the mountains, her abductor is much worse than she had anticipated.  A golem like creature, terrifying and difficult to kill but on top of that is the realisation that a powerful witch created this monster and Maggie needs to find out why.

I’m going to keep my description of the plot to the above.  There are plenty of reviews for this book that already do a fine job of outlining the storyline.

Why I loved this?  Threefold.  (1)  Characters that are flawed.  They make mistakes.  They feel real.  The story slowly reveals their histories and that makes them relatable.  In a nutshell they’re not perfect, but then who is.  I loved these characters. On top of that  great chemistry, between the two central characters. I’m not a romance reader (not a judgement call just personal preference) and yet I loved the relationship that began to bloom in this book.  None of that instalove that I find so irritating but a realistic build up of feelings that can’t be denied.

(2) Great worldbuilding.  This is a world where climate change has devastated the world and a cataclysmic event known as the ‘Big Water’ not only raised the water levels but at the same time released magic, gods and monsters.  Some of the clan members found themselves with certain abilities, related to the heritage of the person’s clan, in this case Maggie finds herself with certain powers.  However, most people don’t consider these powers a gift.  They’re more like a curse and in Maggie’s case they’ve lead to her living a rather isolated existence, shunned by most of the clans.  This is a fantasy world inspired by Native American myth and culture and it’s a world that I found fascinating to read about.  I was literally hooked to this book and in fact I was really disappointed when I reached the end.  I wanted more.

(3) The writing.  I don’t know how to put it into words other than to say the writing here just works for me.  There’s a perfect balance of creativity and description.  There’s a light touch and an expectation that readers will go with the flow.  For example Maggie.  She comes across as hostile, frosty even – she pushes people away and I guess at the start it makes her something of a puzzle.  I love that Roanhorse doesn’t try to rush in with explanations to make you like her immediately but instead leaves things to develop at a natural pace so that you can make your own mind up gradually.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, to be honest, I’m so enamoured by this book that I can barely recall anything and I’m not overly anxious to scrabble around to come up with things.  I think that the plot played second fiddle a little but, honestly, I think this is near damn perfect for me.

People, believe the hype.  In this case it’s all well deserved.

An incredibly entertaining novel, and an introduction to an author that I will definitely read again.  A gritty and fascinating world and a tough and yet at the same time vulnerable protagonist that I can’t wait to get to know better.

I bought the audio version of Trail of Lightning and it was brilliant.  I practically spent two full days with earplugs in ignoring my family until I reached the conclusion.  The narrator was Tanis Parenteau.

 

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