Advent Day 7: Trail of Lightning

51zyshlrvtl-_sx329_bo1204203200_My husband picked this book out for me, and I’m really glad that he did. I originally reviewed it here.

Maggie Hoskie is a monsterslayer, living in what’s left of the United States after the big floods have wiped out most of the country. This is the first entry in The Sixth World series, and it’s a dystopian storyline focusing on Indigenous people after near-global destruction.

The world-building is exceptional. The author doesn’t gloss everything over and pretend that elimination of the financial centers on the East Coast and the U.S. government is going to produce a Utopia overnight. There are complications in this new world; police are corrupt, everyone is concerned about their end and fear and superstition can be as important as currency. Maggie is something of an outcast; one of the things she needs to work through is accepting herself. The author weaves Indigenous beliefs (about the coyote, for example) into the story but modernizes the beliefs to blend in with her futuristic dystopian tale, and it works so well. Highly entertaining, with a kick-ass female protagonist who handles herself.

Still got Christmas shopping to do? Get out there and add this to your stocking stuffers. Teens and adults alike will appreciate the edge-of-your-seat intensity of this action-packed novel.

Advent Days 10, 9 & 8: Horror (It Comes at Night, Heredity, It & bonus, Castle Rock)

Advent Day 11: Barry

Advent Day 12: Salt

Advent Day 13: Blackkklansman

Advent Day 14: Dark

Advent Day 15: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Advent Day 16: Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horror

Advent Day 17: Freeze-Frame Revolution

Advent Day 18: Haunting of Hill House

Advent Day 19: Wind River

Advent Day 20: Letterkenny

Advent Day 21: Black Mirror

Advent Day 22: The Oddling Prince

Advent Day 23: The Americans

Advent Day 24: Fight Fascism

Advent Day 25: Bodyguard

Advent Day 26: Baskets

Advent Day 27: Literature

Online Issue 15

 

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Darrin Doyle’s short story collection, Scoundrels Among Us, hit shelves this week and Darrin is here to talk about the common thread that ties these stories together. “A lot of fiction contains somebody doing something bad or wrong, but often they’re making bad decisions for themselves (or to themselves). My collection features many folks (mostly men) behaving in creepy, questionable, violent, or otherwise unseemly ways.”

I found the collection to be a celebration of the absurd and highly entertaining. Darrin also shares what’s on his TBR pile – including works such as Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves, Christine Schutt’s All Souls, Christine Sneed’s The Virginity of Famous Men and Katie Chase’s Man & Wife.

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Hunter Shea admits his love for Real Housewives and talks about the scariest night of his life and inspiration for Creature. Hunter also talks about his cats, Iris and Salem, in this author assistant feature.

Judy Penz Sheluk talks about her writing companion, a pup named for a character from NCIS: Gibbs

James Oswald talks about writing from the female perspective, insights from social media and claims to be “rubbish” at performing one specific author task.

Reviews:

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse reviewed by Sandra Ruttan

Scoundrels Among Us by Darrin Doyle reviewed by Sandra Ruttan

Solemn Graves: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery by James R. Benn reviewed by Theodore Feit

The Sinners by Ace Atkins reviewed by Theodore Feit

A Book To Look Up

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What is ‘voice’ anyway?

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Thoughts on Horror

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I suspect there could be as many conversations about what horror is as there are about what noir is. Laura Lauro’s tweets pointed me to the Aeon.co article by M.M. Owen, which is well worth a look.

“Horror is what anthropologists call biocultural. It is about fears we carry because we are primates with a certain evolved biology: the corruption of the flesh, the loss of our offspring. It is also about fears unique to our sociocultural moment: the potential danger of genetically modifying plants. The first type of fear is universal; the second is more flexible and contextual. Their cold currents meet where all great art does its work, down among the bottomless caves on the seabed of consciousness. Lurking here, a vision of myself paralysed in the dirt, invisible to those I love.”

 

Review: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

51zyshlrvtl-_sx329_bo1204203200_The Sixth World that Rebecca Roanhorse writes about in Trail of Lightning is an amalgamation of what’s left of the United States after the Big Water. Yes, a flood has not only wiped out the coastlines, but most of the country and billions of people world-wide.

Welcome to a world where monsters are real, the gods of the Indigenous survivors of Big Water walk the earth and wreak havoc.

Enter Maggie Hoskie, Monsterslayer. When a young girl is taken from her home by a monster that poses a distinct new threat, Maggie comes out of exile to hunt the monster down. She’s a person who’s endured a lot of loss; her parents, grandmother and the god she loves are all gone. The only distinction is that the god chose to leave her while her family is deceased.

Maggie’s clan powers enable her to kill efficiently and swiftly, but they also alienate her from others in Dinétah, where she lives.

.Trail of Lightning centers on Maggie. It focuses on how she became what she is and the losses she’s suffered. As she gets to know Kai barriers begin to break down and ultimately she’ll have to choose between the god from her past or the man in her present. Maggie will also have to make decisions about what she wants from her life and whether or not she’s willing to open herself up to people, in spite of the possibility of losing them.

This is a story that exists in a rich alternate reality, in a not-too-distant future that it’s easy to believe in. One of the things I appreciated about it was that there could be whole series of books written about what happened in the wake of the Big Water, before the Wall was built. The landscape that Roanhorse is using is so rich there’s a sense of a well developed history that has brought the Diné to where they are in the current storyline.

Maggie is a formidable female character who waits for no man to rescue her and shares her heart sparingly. She is principled and cares about people, evidenced by her willingness to do whatever it takes to stop the monsters who are slaughtering people. She’s even willing to die herself, a willingness that may be tested before the novel’s end.

I was completely lost in this story as I read and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Maggie and her world. Even when I thought I could see where the story was going, surprises were in store that kept it from feeling anything but predictable or familiar. Roanhorse has done an exceptional job crafting a rich group of characters and creating The Sixth World – a word I can’t wait to return to. This is a fantastic read for those who love speculative fiction with strong characters, a good mystery, action, a bit of horror and a healthy dose of supernatural beings.