(First published on Audible.com)
I am usually not a fan of series. In this case, I not only couldn’t wait for Storm of Locusts, I pre-ordered it…and felt that everything I read in the interim lacked the vivid imagination and memorable characters that hooked me, instantly, in Trail of Lightning.
You don’t have to love near-future science fiction, catastrophic dystopias, or First Nations literature to find these books fully absorbing and haunting in the best sense of the word. The traumatized survivors of “the energy wars,” rising sea levels, devastating climate change and governmental disintegration work to create new bonds of love and family. At the same time their clan ancestries may now burden them with shocking supernatural gifts triggered by crisis and loss.
The plot is a deceptively simple quest which flowers into a complex examination of greed, the will to power, broken taboos and social mores in a shifting society of traditional Navajo values, water barons, Mormon kingdoms, Spanish land grant “royalty,” and fractured militia-like units trying to profit on every crime from slavery and harvested human organs to the sale of weapons and stolen goods.
Maggie, our protagonist, has witnessed multiple murders, cannibalism and worse while still a teenager, which triggered the onset of her own clan gifts. She is still struggling to make sense of her terrifying abilities (for example, being extremely skilled at killing people), and find her place among human beings after serving a supernatural god as violent apprentice and young lover, surviving his abandonment, and learning a new way of being from the medicine man’s grandson in book one. She is strong, determined, but still filled with self-loathing and anxiety in this novel–although there is perceptible growth in her social skills. Her search for the grandson she now alternately loves and doubts brings her closer to former acquaintances and other human beings, and it is touching to witness her tentative attempts at social bonding and experience her moments of well-being after the unbelievable tragedies of her adolescence.
All of Roanhorse’s women characters are strong and fascinating survivors. They out-shoot, out-fight, out-track, and out-think the male characters more often than not. Yet everyone is depicted so compassionately you can’t help but wish that all but the raging psychopaths will find meaning and happiness in their lives, regardless of their savage environment.
I stayed up all night to listen to Storm of Locusts, and from the hints at the end I am very eager for the next book in this incredibly unique and wild series. I sincerely hope you give it a try!