'Trail of Lightning' - Book Review

Trail of Lightning
by Rebecca Roanhorse
2018, 285p.

Our main character is Maggie Hoskie, a young Diné (Navajo) woman who has trained as a monster hunter. The book is set 30 to 50 years from now, in a post-apocalyptic future - which makes it sound like Science Fiction, but the book is actually Urban Fantasy as the apocalypse has ushered in "the Sixth World" (you and I live in "the Fifth World") - in the Sixth World, the gods, monsters, and immortals of the Diné are walking the Earth. Along with this, many of the Diné have developed "Clan Powers" - think of them as superpowers that follow family/clan lines. Maggie is really, really good at killing. She's also a massive bundle of rage and (because it's a teen book) insecurities.

I mostly guessed the big-bad 30 pages into the book: it was meant to be a mystery, revealed near the end of the book. It was more complicated than I guessed, but I was pretty close. Other problems I had with the book were that it's seriously grisly, verging on horror levels of nastiness, and that Maggie is a distinctly unsympathetic character. We, the readers, are supposed to be cheering for her. And I sort of was, but she was so tiresome in her predictable rejection of affection and friendship. And the romance is predictable, in that they hate each other from the start. But the story was in most other respects unpredictable: I didn't really see where it was headed. That was mostly a good thing. And Roanhorse had the decency to end the book on a relatively stable moment in the plot, even though the book I had includes an excerpt from the next "Sixth World" book (yup, there's a sequel). I didn't mind this book, but I won't be reading the next, I just didn't like Maggie (or her grim and gritty world) enough for that.

Gamers (and pessimists like me) could also see the entire book as a single item quest, with Maggie armed very differently at the end of the book. The only way to find out if the book was an item quest would be to see what happens in the next book - and I won't be doing that.