One of the strengths of Trail of Lightning is the background of the world. Some years before the story begins, two major events happen. The first, a disastrous flood referred to as the big water swallows a significant portion of the world’s landmass. This leads to the remaining land of the U.S. being surrounded by fifty-foot walls and the ancient Navajo homeland of Dinétah becoming its own nation. Secondly, magic returns to the world. Gods and monsters roam the land and some of the Diné develop supernatural powers aligned with their ancestral tribes. It’s a world that is both modern and ancient, with a lot of thought towards how people reconcile the two. Having said that, there were areas that could perhaps have been developed more but, with a sequel available (and another two planned), there’s plenty of time to explore more in the future.
One side note - this review is based on the audiobook version read by Tanis Parenteau. As such, the pronunciation of the numerous Native American names and terms was not an issue. I’m not sure if the print or ebook versions include a pronunciation guide to assist other readers.
Maggie, while being both strong and resourceful, has her flaws. Still wounded from a past abandonment, she is reluctant to trust people. She also has lingering doubts about her own humanity, a result of her clan powers making her an extremely efficient and brutal killer. Her gradual thawing and growth beyond past those doubts is nicely handled, although she retains enough spikiness at the end to have made new enemies.
Speaking of the end, the whole book moves at a fast pace but the last few chapters crank things up even further. There are action beats, multiple revelations and reversals, almost to the point of feeling rushed. Still, if you’re looking for a fresh take on the urban fantasy monster hunter trope, this is definitely worth giving a try.
4 out of 5 clan powers.