Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

I have been in an absolute funk today. Sometimes the brain weasels come and they don’t stop chewing, you know?

Rebecca Roanhorse’s latest book, Storm of Locusts, has been helping me out of the funk. The protagonist is Maggie Hoskins, a monsterslayer with Clan powers who lives in a post-apocalyptic United States in Dinétah, the Navajo nation that survived the Big Water. Having recently “killed” two gods, she has enough trouble to deal with in her life… but then she ends up unwitting caretaker of a teenager with Clan powers, half-friends half-enemies with a once ally, and crossing the Wall into the remains of Arizona to find the man she fell in love with in Trail of Lightning.

No matter how much I hate doing laundry and no matter how stressed I am about my job, nobody’s asking me to figure out how a lightning god’s sword works, or attacking me with locusts.

Oh, yeah, by the way? Total fuckton of locusts in this book. Me? I have no problem with creepy crawlies in books because my brain just kind of slides over them like “oh yeah horrible thing happens here, we’re not going to dwell on that…” but if(when) they make this series into a movie this is going to be nightmare city for some people.

Including me. Because my brain can’t slide past creepy crawlies in movies.

Anyway, just like in the first book of the series, this one is chock full of Navajo gods, Navajo culture, kick-ass women kicking ass with swords, guns, knives, etc., one seriously fucking creepy bad guy, and magic.

Plus bugs. We are not screwing around about the bugs here, people.

Definite must read, looking forward to the next one, hoping it’s slightly more bug-free.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

I’m an East Coast woman, living on land colonized three hundred years ago. I know nothing of the Navajo, nothing of the desert, and my only experience with a mesa was a family trip decades ago.

In other words, everything about the world of Trail of Lightning‘s protagonist, Maggie Hoskie, should feel absolutely foreign to me.

Well, I mean, some of it is certainly supposed to be foreign to anyone. The book takes place in a post-apocalyptic (for White people) Sixth World, where the Navajo gods, heroes, and monsters have resurfaced and started their unnatural lives anew. Don’t get much of that here in the suburbs. (Not really hoping to have Coyote swing by the house either, gotta say.)

I can feel the desert dust on the library shelves, smell the ozone in the air, see the greenish tinge of a nightmare sky, and certainly hear the rez dogs barking.

Rebecca Roanhorse’s characterizations, her world building, her storytelling, captured me in all the right ways. Her characters have complex and shifting motivations. The action is fast-paced and brutally violent, while simultaneously filled with heartbroken love. The supernatural is extremely supernatural.

And at the same time, the stories, the Navajo language, the culture that Rebecca describes, they are all (as much as any fiction story is) real.

Frankly, if I’m going to read kick-ass women kicking ass (and yes, I’m going to read lots of it) I’d much rather be doing it with a culture of real people with a real language and a real history than a fully made-up culture of elves speaking elvish. (And I love elves.)

There are many people and many cultures in this world, and often they’re intermingled and next-door-neighbors with my white colonial upbringing, that I’d never see if writers like Rebecca Roanhorse weren’t bringing them to the forefront. These stories should be heard. They need to be heard. And damn we would be worse off if we didn’t get a chance to hear them.

I loved it.