Book Review: Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse (Four Stars)


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

(Four Stars)

“Some people believe to destroy your enemies by making them your friends.” “I find a gun works pretty well too.”

Dresden on the rez. Honestly, not the kind of story I like to read–dark, supernatural urban legend action tale. That said, Roanhorse does as good a job as Jim Butcher integrating her modern/near-future paranormal thriller with both Navajo and Euro-American cultures. Roanhorse takes us deep into the mind and feelings of the protagonist, where even Maggie isn’t comfortable.

“It feels like I can’t tell the monsters from the good guys anymore, so it’s best I pull the trigger and let someone else sort it out.” “You don’t mean that.” “Maybe I do.”

Many references to classic and contemporary culture. Casual readers may miss how connected this story is; they won’t miss how full and rich the resulting story is. “Diné way is to find connections–between yourself and your relatives, yourself and the world. Diné way of life is k’é.” “It kind of works in a Rambo meets Howdy Doody kind of way.”

“I respect your skills, but you got a rep, girl.” “As a psychopath?” “That’s a little strong. Let’s go with violent and antisocial.”

Quibble: “My old Chevy that I’ve hooked up to run on Hooch now that gasoline’s harder to come by.” Internal combustion engines can run on highly-refined alcohol–with some lost performance; not so well on 80 and 100 proof whiskey. It’s not the same as modern fuel-injected engines that run on E85, and there’s a reason it’s E-85, not E100.

“Makes you feel lucky to be Diné, doesn’t it?” “No, it makes me feel small.”

A new take on the SF/F mandatory breathing trope. “… trying to remember how I’m supposed to breathe.”  Love the cover art.

“Everything you’ve done, your past, it’s all just a story you tell yourself. Some of it is true, but some of it is lies.” “You think I’m lying?” “Only to yourself.”

(2019 Novel Hugo Award finalist)