Saga Press, 2019, 313 pages
Kai and Caleb Goodacre have been kidnapped just as rumors of a cult sweeping across the reservation leads Maggie and Hastiin to investigate an outpost, and what they find there will challenge everything they’ve come to know in this action-packed sequel to Trail of Lightning.
It’s been four weeks since the bloody showdown at Black Mesa, and Maggie Hoskie, Diné monster hunter, is trying to make the best of things. Only her latest bounty hunt has gone sideways, she’s lost her only friend, Kai Arviso, and she’s somehow found herself responsible for a girl with a strange clan power.
Then the Goodacre twins show up at Maggie’s door with the news that Kai and the youngest Goodacre, Caleb, have fallen in with a mysterious cult, led by a figure out of Navajo legend called the White Locust. The Goodacres are convinced that Kai’s a true believer, but Maggie suspects there’s more to Kai’s new faith than meets the eye. She vows to track down the White Locust, then rescue Kai and make things right between them.
Her search leads her beyond the Walls of Dinétah and straight into the horrors of the Big Water world outside. With the aid of a motley collection of allies, Maggie must battle body harvesters, newborn casino gods, and, ultimately, the White Locust himself. But the cult leader is nothing like she suspected, and Kai might not need rescuing after all. When the full scope of the White Locust’s plans are revealed, Maggie’s burgeoning trust in her friends and herself will be pushed to the breaking point, and not everyone will survive.
I liked Rebecca Roanhorse's first book about Maggie Hoskie, who is sort of a Navajo Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a post-apocalyptic world. The Big Water flooded most of North America, leaving Dinétah intact but wrecking the rest of the continent, and also bringing gods and monsters back into the world. Trail of Lightning ended with Maggie learning that the Navajo gods are dicks too, and heartbroken over the ending with Kai, her silver-eyed Diné boy who's that guy you keep drunk-texting at 3 a.m. when you're remembering how hot he is and forgetting the time you shot him because he sort of forgot to mention his mind control powers.
The second book continues the usual pattern of this sort of series: Maggie is still a violent, conflicted badass with a gooey romantic center, and her boyfriend will continue to be enigmatic and complicated and their relationship will continue to be touch and go as she tries to figure out whether he joined a doomsday cult voluntarily or not.
When a couple of frenemies come knocking on her door, asking for her to help find a young relative who's joined the cult (isn't a doomsday cult kind of redundant in a post-apocalypse? Apparently one doomsday wasn't enough for the White Locust), Maggie ends up leading a new crew out of Dinétah and into the Big Water beyond the wall. She's a reluctant big sis to another Diné girl with "clan powers" (which function much like Marvel mutant powers - random superpowers some people get, triggered by trauma), and accompanied by another woman who blames her for basically everything, and a catgirl. Okay, catwoman. She's actually a cat, but she's a Diné cat, who can become a human. I kind of liked her. She was a snarky, self-centered brat who can occasionally be useful if she feels like it. I.e., a cat.
The first book actually had zero white characters, because it all took place in Dinétah. In Storm of Locusts, white characters are pretty much villains, without exception, except for the guy who becomes a love interest to one of the side characters. Who we first meet when he's about to harvest Maggie & co.'s organs. Not a big surprise that he doesn't make it to the end of the book. Also, what is it with evil Mormons? In fairness, it seems the "Bishop" who runs the slave-trading, organ-harvesting business is some kind of renegade who is not on good terms with the "regular" Mormons (whom Maggie never visits), but I guess a super-patriarchal religion known for its historical polygamy just makes them the go-to bad guys for a bunch of weird westerns and alt history novels I've read. I mean, I'm no Mormon, or ex-Mormon, but I can kind of understand why they're still sore about A Study in Scarlet, 'cause contemporary authors are still cribbing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's evil Mormons.
Anyway, Maggie and her friends go traipsing about getting into misadventure, trying to get to the bottom of the White Locust (not coincidentally, he appears to be a white dude, though he turns out to have Diné blood) who sent locust people to attack them back in Dinétah, and I was just waiting for Coyote to show up again. Which he does, but too briefly. Come on, I don't care about whether Maggie and Kai ever get around to making kissy-face, I want to see Coyote do Coyote shit.
There are some other gods (I liked the Casino God), Maggie is still trying to figure out how to use the Lightning Sword she got off her dead demigod ex's body last book, and apparently white people all suck.
This series has some imaginative worldbuilding from a Native American perspective, though as I observed in the first book, Rebecca Roanhorse isn't actually a Navajo, so one suspects she chose the most well-known and "marketable" Indian tribe for her protagonist. The plot and characters are fairly generic (not)urban fantasy, but it's still entertaining enough for anyone who likes the genre.
Also by Rebecca Roanhorse: My review of Trail of Lightning.
My complete list of book reviews.