Trail of Lightning

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

I found this first book in the Sixth World post-apocalyptic Navajo fantasy series to be a compelling read. After a great flood, walls have risen around the Dinétah, the southwestern Navajo lands. Gods and monsters have appeared, and some Diné have developed special powers. Maggie Hoskie has been trained to fight monsters, but lacks self-confidence and is reluctant to trust after some bad experiences. The Dinétah world is vividly described, and the story is fast-paced and exciting, if a little violent. Maggie is asked to help Coyote, and reluctantly partners with young medicine man Kai, who refuses to use guns, but has some hidden powers. A finalist for two major awards, this novel has already won the Locus Award for best first novel. The sequel, Storm of Locusts, is available now.


The Salt Line

The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones

A dystopian thriller set in the near future that’s sure to be popular. A group of residents of the southeast zone have paid a large fee to spend a few weeks enjoying nature beyond the salt line. The salt line is a ring of scorched earth and garbage dumps intended to protect the privileged zone residents from ticks carrying deadly diseases. The group’s guide, Andy, makes them practice using a cauterizing stamp that works to prevent disease if used right after a tick bite, and cautions them to stay close to their assigned stamp partner. Somehow the group, which includes tech entrepreneur Wes, middle-aged mom Marta, pop star Jesse and his girlfriend Edie, end up in Ruby City, where June and the other residents, including scarred Violet, no longer live in fear of ticks, though at a price. Adventure and danger follow the group, and they have to decide what kind of life they’ll choose in the future, if they survive. This is another September pick by Library Reads.


When the English Fall

When the English Fall by David Williams

Amish farmer Jacob is worried about his daughter Sadie, 14. She has seizures and visions. Lately she’s been talking about angels falling from the sky. When a solar storm knocks out the electric grid, her visions start to make sense. Jacob, his wife Hannah, and their Amish neighbors respond generously to the disaster, sending extra food every week with the National Guard to Lancaster. As conditions in the cities deteriorate, hunger and violence come ever closer. How are the Amish to be a witness to the values of non-violence, community, and generosity in a post-apocalyptic world? Jacob writes this story in his journal, even as he and his son Jacob help their neighbors repair storm damage, and when Mike, the English (non-Amish) man who sells the furniture Jacob makes, comes to the farm for advice and help. Beautifully written, moving and unpredictable, this shorter novel is a memorable standout on the increasingly crowded shelves of post-apocalyptic novels.



Immobility by Brian Evenson

Josef Horkai is a new breed of human. He has super human strength and is able to miraculously heal from any sustained injury. Nature, or rather human folly has singled him out in a new and perilous world. The Planet (Earth) has sustained a catastrophic annihilation event. Most ordinary humans didn’t survive and the ones that did live in a post-apocalyptic world. Survivors hole up in small buildings that endure in a ravaged landscape. Because he is able to live in a world where ordinary humans die of exposure in minutes, he is a valuable commodity to the competing factions that fight over what little that is left. I won’t tell you what these factions are or their purpose, but the book A Canticle for Leibowitz by William M. Miller comes to mind.  Another novel also comes to mind: The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which I have not read but I did see the movie. Josef strives to prevail in a world that he has little knowledge of since he has been cryogenically frozen for the past thirty years and sent on a mission that he understands little about.

This is a grim, ultra dark thriller that hooks you from the first page. It is a fast read, but a real nightmare to think about. Other books by Brian Evenson are  Windeye, Fugue State, and The Open Curtain.