I'm currently behind on reviews, so don't be surprised if the recent reviews are a bit sparse.

Trail of Lightning

Cover of Trail of Lightning.

Urban fantasy needn’t take place in a city, and this is a prime example: it may be a supernatural mystery story taking place in post-collapse North America on a reservation after the collapse of the USA, but it’s still very much urban fantasy.

The protagonist is a kick-ass young woman with no family, who is pretty much an outcast, lives in rough circumstances, and is also snarky, tough and blah blah blah. Daddy issues (in that she had a crush on her super-human mentor) and generally grumpy and very much not inclined to deal with people. She’s a monsterslayer with clan powers that make her more dangerous โ€ฆ at a cost. She even gets her mandatory dress-up moment to assure us fragile readers that she can be attractive, she just chooses to go without. Ehhhhh. (Her make-up is done by a huge gun-wielding gay guy, who gets to justify his sexuality to the protagonist in the face of his usual masc bahviour. Ehhhhh.)

The book reminded me in many ways of Kate Daniels: The tropes, of course, but also the protagonist’s investigative powers rely a lot on the plot shoving progression in her face, and that the worldbuilding is more interesting than the plot. Here the world involves climate catastrophe (Big Water, Energy Wars), a wall surrounding the reservation, disintegration of the USA, lack of trade meaning no sugar/coffee/luxury goods, and so on. It’s not extremely believable or consistent if you think about it too much, but โ€ฆ just don’t think about it too much, and enjoy the gritty rusty Firefly-like feeling.

The plot itself relies a lot on the protagonist being stubborn, noticing and then ignoring obvious hint, and making wilfully bad and uninformed choices when a single question would help. But if you treat the whole thing as a popcorn read, it works reasonably well.