⚡️Trail of Lightning: Book Review⚡️
I don’t read a ton of urban fantasy anymore, but this debut by Rebecca Roanhorse ticks all the right boxes: A kickass lead in Maggie Hoskie, fun side characters and a really interesting world with mysteries to solve/monsters to kill. It’s a fast-paced story that accomplishes a lot in its short length (9 hours on audio with indigenous narrator @tanisparenteau
, who did a great job bringing the drama and the emotion to life). I listened to it as part of the #femmefantale
readathon, focusing on all women-authored fantasy stories.
At times the world building was a bit info-dump heavy, but that’s hard to get around when you have to set up a post-apocalyptic world at the same time as the Navajo legends come to life. And the “twists” or reveals in the story were fairly obvious from the beginning, which made Maggie seem a bit naive. So, a few quibbles but an enjoyable listen overall. It was great to see a Native culture at the center of a post-apocalyptic world, which is typically erased by mainstream futurist stories.
But there are a few things to know before going into this book. While Roanhorse is Native, she’s not Navajo (her husband is and she lived on the reservation for years). While some in the Navajo community have been supportive of the book and don’t find any issues (it was read by Navajo sensitivity readers), some more traditional members have expressed unease. Some of the concerns include misrepresentation of spiritual practices (one of the weapons she uses in the story is only ever used in sacred rituals), the heavy use of violence in connection with the spiritual, and revealing cultural information that many would prefer stay within the tribe. (HT to @read
.rewind for sharing the article “Concerns about Roanhorse's TRAIL OF LIGHTNING from AICL, which also links to other resources)
Ultimately I ended up deciding to read this book and will probably pick up its sequels because overall I want to encourage the publishing industry to pick up more indigenous authors’ work. But I will continue to do so carefully, so that these stories don’t remain a commodified and bastardized form of indigenous cultures.