Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse – A Book Review

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.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.


Magdalena Hoskie’s talents are a little unconventional. An unhealthy amount of bloodlust and years spent under the tutelage of an immortal warrior has taught her how to be hard, fast and merciless. It makes her the perfect warrior to fight ancient monsters – but she doesn’t want to be anybodies hero. In fact, the most interesting part about Trail of Lightning is that she’s struggling to reconcile with the monstrous part of herself. 

This book exceeded some expectations, but struggled to meet others.

Where this book exceeded my expectations was its magic system. Maggie and many of the side characters – such as her Partner and love interest Kai – are Indigenous. Consequently much of this book is heavily rooted in Indigenous culture and folklore. Primarily the magic system, as characters own powers are inherited depending on what their 1st or 2nd clan is. This aspect was the best developed element in this book in my opinion and I loved how differentiated it meant everyones powers were. 

My enjoyment of this novel also thrived off of Maggie’s hardass characterization, no nonsense attitude and the fact that she is a grumpy reluctant hero.. Although, I was deeply surprised as the story went on to reveal a more tender side that Maggie harbours to herself. One that is scared to let people in, making her isolate herself because she’s scared to loose anyone.

I think the reason my enjoyment of this book is lacking is because I needed a lot more explicit detail about the world. The author expertly builds atmosphere, there’s no doubting that. I really got the picture of a civilisation partly rebuilt amongst a dusty terrain filled with strange monsters. Yet, I needed more connective tissue because this book is set far in the future when the apocalypse has already happened. I felt as if some important things were missing for me, because I’m not a reader who reads between lines very well. I think this series could benefit from a Prequel novella!

Although lacking, the romance does not disappoint. 

Maggie and Kai’s relationship is fraught with a lot of good sarcastic banter, which is often driven by the fact that Maggie and Kai are complete opposites. Where Maggie is emotionally crippled, Kai wears his heart on his sleeve. But their relationship also has a lot of somber moments too and I enjoyed the occasional tenderness these characters treated one another with. Maggie is reluctant to Partner with Kai, despite his grandpa’s high praises of his medicine skills. But it’s Kai’s nature to worm his way into people’s heart. I’m pretty sure Maggie doesn’t even realise he’s done it until it’s too late. 

“You got a rep, girl,” he says as he leans his back against the bar and takes a sip of his beer. “Don’t act like you don’t know.”
“As a psychopath?”
“That’s a little strong. Let’s go with violent and antisocial.”’

Although I felt teased by the romance here because there wasn’t nearly as much as I would’ve liked. I don’t mind romances saturating my stories, or being as equally important as the fantasy elements. Some readers will prefer that the romance doesn’t overshadow other plot elements. I will admit that I think this book built a good foundation for something really angsty in book two between Maggie and Kai.

Strangely, I want to recommend this book to readers who like Emily A. Duncan’s, Wicked Saints series. It’s not Gothic like that series at all. However it’s perfectly atmospheric, very visual with it’s world building and has a wholey unique and complex magic system. 

(2020) Book Images (3)
From Reading Is My Kind of Thing, Carly

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