Trail of Lightning Read-along: week one

Trail of Lightning - a Wyrd and Wonder read-along

Years after the world drowned and Dinétah walled itself away, dangerous loner Maggie Hoskins hunts the monsters that stalk the reservation. Monsters with human faces and inhuman appetites. Monsters with unspeakable powers… just like hers. Can evil be infectious?

First up, let’s talk about the setting/world-building. What are your first impressions of where/when the story begins?

This is a bad-ass post-apocalypse: I’ve somehow avoided all spoilers and almost all details of what this book is about, and this is not what I expected. I’m intrigued by any setting in which the Midwest has ended up underwater. I also like – well, like may be the wrong word, but I’ll run with it – that the climate is still reeling out of control. It wasn’t a reset button; it’s a process. I have questions, I won’t lie. I don’t expect to get them answered, but that actually doesn’t bother me for once. I’m just curious to see what all this interesting background contributes as we go along.

Sadly, the apocalypse doesn’t seem to have encouraged humanity to mend any habits. Let’s be clear, there are no good guys here. The white man’s corporate greed may have set the ball rolling, but greed transcends race and there’s plenty of Diné well-to-dos cashing in at the expense of the reservation (selling off petrol to the Mormons, for example). So Dinétah in some senses doesn’t feel like it’s gained many advantages other than getting to kick the government and the oil companies out: water is scarce, supplies are scarce, communities are small and it doesn’t feel like there’s much wealth going round.

It’s old tech cobbled together to keep it going, barter to get your hands on what you need and a complex web of family and obligation that I’m hoping to understand better as we go along …as for the supernatural element, that’s even more fascinating. Clan powers, monsters and absent immortals? I definitely want to know more.

On to the cast of characters! We get a fairly no-holds-barred introduction to Maggie Hoskie, and some interesting interactions between her and other key characters (or so they seem). What do you think of her, and of Kai and Grandpa Tah?

Bloody Nora, the second chapter side-swiped me and left me reeling. WHAT THE ACTUAL, MAGGIE? Not going to lie, I have an immediate – and enormous – reservation. Maggie’s assertion that evil is infectious implies a belief that you cannot recover from trauma; that it destroys you and drives you to destroy others. I can’t get on board with that at all. That said, Grandpa Tah and Kai’s worldview seems very different, so I’m willing to give the story – and Maggie – some rope. After all, Maggie clearly has a lot of healing of her own to do. Maybe if she can accept that, she can learn to give others that chance too.

Kai is annoyingly smug, but seems to have interesting abilities of his own. I read his talking down of Longarm as being a subtle application of clan powers, so I’m holding out for him being a Trickster character (because you know I love tricksters). He makes quite the contrast with Maggie, which should make for an interesting dynamic.

The plot’s afoot … Perhaps just barely, but still. Any thoughts/suspicions/predictions? Or are you content to be taken along for the ride?

I’m going to sit back and enjoy the ride. Rebecca Roanhorse showed me in Chapter 2 that I cannot predict how things are going to go, so I’m happy to sit in the passenger seat and see where she takes me. I’m a bit concerned this could be hella bleak, but I’ll go with it for now.

Round the fire

I’m reading Trail of Lightning as part of the Wyrd and Wonder Read-along. See what my fellow readers had to say:

Read-along Discussion Schedule

  • SUNDAY 5th: Beginning through the end of Chapter Eight
  • SUNDAY 12th: Chapter Nine through the end of Chapter Eighteen
  • SUNDAY 19th: Chapter Nineteen through the end of Chapter Twenty-Eight
  • SUNDAY 26th: Chapter Twenty-Nine to the end

Fancy joining in? Don’t worry, I’m playing catch up too – and this isn’t a long book, so you’ve plenty of time to dive in. Already read it? Feel free to join in in the comments on our blogs or on Twitter – but please, no spoilers.

See you next week!