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Review: Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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.



Drawing from the idea that after each worldwide disaster begins a new era, Rebecca Roanhorse’s novel, Trail of Lightning, takes places after climate change has flooded the majority of North America. However, the Navajo Nation, or the Diné, have found a new way of life in the high desert plateaus. Now, in the dawn of the Sixth World; the monsters, magic, and immortals of Diné folklore now roam the desert plains, creating a new meaning for spirituality and community connection. Our main character, Maggie, struggles from trauma and a past abusive relationship, and much of her development revolves around her own existential acceptance of what it means to be a good, or bad, human being.

I’m no hero. I’m more of a last resort, a scorched-earth policy. I’m the person you hire when the heroes have already come home in body bags.

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

The story begins when Maggie is sent to investigate the disappearance of a little girl, and the discovery of the unusual monsters that Maggie had never encountered before unleashes a chain of events that pushes Maggie to her emotional, spiritual, and physical limits. She grapples with trust, friendship, grief, trauma, and her violent talents as she seeks to survive and maneuver her way as a mortal through the whims of trickster immortals who have bigger plans that she knows of.

A major theme of this book is how much easier it is to push people away and try to figure out life and one’s struggles on one’s own– especially when trusting others often leaves room for the possibility of hurt and betrayal. This book feels raw and straightforward when dealing with these matters, and I saw a lot of value in having Maggie deal with these issues throughout the story while facing magical threats and monsters along the way.

This book was really powerful for me. I love any sort of gritty desert aesthetic, so it was easy to immerse myself in the setting. Maggie’s struggle with trust and existential grappling resonated with me, and her struggle felt real and messy in all the right ways. The plot itself moves at a steady pace, Maggie has her quest and the story moves consistently along that quest, if not for one or two times Maggie pauses to recover or help someone out along the way (like any adventure, one always runs into side-quests!).

Some content notes to be aware of: decapitation, murder, detailed descriptions of gore, death of a family member, trauma, past relationship abuse, and consumption of alcohol.

As a first installment of a series, this book is a stellar introduction to Maggie, leaves some room for development, and leaves enough tension for sequels that I am excited to see where the author goes from here. There were some elements of predictability in a big twist at the end, but it didn’t harm my reading experience in any way. If you’ve read it already, I’d love to know your thoughts on the story! If a gritty post-apocalyptic monster-hunting adventure interwoven with Diné folklore sounds up your alley, then you’ll probably enjoy Trail of Lightening by Rebecca Roanhorse.

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.

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