Basically, the best paranormal/urban fantasy book I have read in years.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
The world drowned in the Big Water and now only a few places are left, including
Dinétah (formerly, the Navajo reservation). Now Maggie Hoskie, bereft and listless after her hero and mentor deserted her on the Black Mesa, is being pulled back into monster slaying. See, when the world crashed, the monsters from folklore and legend came back. Maggie is asked to save a young girl from just such a monster, stirring memories she’d rather let fester and die. She soon finds herself on something of a hero’s quest, with a new partner by her side, Kai Aviso, a man with big medicine and even bigger secrets.
The worldbuilding is superb. The mythology explored in the book is fascinating and vivid. Roanhorse doesn’t bog you (the reader) down in exposition, she actually kind of dumps you in the deep end and requires you to swim. But it is so worth it. There’s so much action; the pace is relentless, the plot dense and twisty. Maybe I saw one or two things coming, but I was also totally surprised by other narrative choices.
Maggie is an interesting character. Like a lot of UF heroines, she’s powerful and damaged, with a horrific backstory. But Maggie is also so much more than that. She’s smart and savvy, self-sufficient to a fault, but when pushed into accepting help from others, comes to accept it and rely on it. Roanhorse allows Maggie to change and grow as the novel progresses. She’s still a badass monster killing machine at the end, though, don’t worry.
This book was very odd, to say the least! As someone who enjoys cryptic and unusual writing styles, I loved the way this story was told – but I do understand why audiences found it a bit too confusing. The author speaks a lot in metaphors, but sometimes the metaphors get so intense that you aren’t sure whether they actually are metaphors.
Unknowing is a reoccurring theme in this novel. Whilst some reviews that I’ve seen claim that the twist was obvious, I didn’t see it coming from a mile away! It creates a very intriguing contrast between magical realism, paranormal and psychological thriller.
The characters though… I’m not sure if I hated them or loved them in a strange, twisted way. Although at some times they can be rather un-relatable (which can make a book quite unsatisfying), there were some moments where I wanted to cry for them. By the end, all the characters were very raw and real.
Definitely one for the Halloween season (the novel is set in October too!). But not one for the close-minded, shall we say. I really recommend reading this one over a short period of time too – it was much more enjoyable when I didn’t take a break.
*READ SECOND PARAGRAPH FOR SYNOPSIS* (read this book people)
Unlike anything I’ve ever read before. This creepy, paranormal/psychological thriller/cult novel is so unique and bizarre that I can’t begin to explain how good it was without sounding like a sociopath. You never know what’s real, what’s psychosis and what’s witchcraft, so it leaves you guessing all the damn time.
Without spoiling anything, this book centres around two girls who share the same body: Carly, who’s around during the day, and Kaitlyn, who has the night. They have a beautiful and peculiar sisterhood created entirely by leaving each other messages when they are awake. But, of course, nobody believes this is true and ‘Carly’ has been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Soon, things start to change between them until something terrible happens which resorts in a whole bunch of terrifying and disturbing events. It’s scary and captivating and even horrifying in some places.
This story is told in diary entries, reports, interviews and written records of video tapes all collected to carry out an investigation. I usually don’t like multi-media story telling – but this is absolutely fascinating! Kaitlyn writes in her diary as if it’s talking back (which it could be in her head) and you will never know the parts of the story that haven’t been recorded in some way. It’s very mysterious in that way.
As well as all this, if you think about this book too much – it’s hecka scary. Not for readers who don’t like gore since it’s so deliciously gory and gross (see? sociopath.). There’s a lot of cult-like actions, too, which are fascinating since you never know whether what they’re saying is true or a result of group hysteria or psychosis.
God this is such a good book! I’m probably going to hell for how much I enjoyed it and I am a little worried about how the author came up with this concept but still – READ IT.