Spoilers Below! You’ve been warned. Also, all reviews are subjective. My opinions are my own.
I was lucky enough to receive a pre-release copy of Roanhorse’s Black Sun, but as that book is releasing in a few months I’m going to hold off on reading it for a few months so my review comes out closer to release. Instead, I read this.
Storm of Locusts is a sequel to Rebecca Roanhorse’s ‘Trail of Lightning.’ This is the second story about Maggie Hoskie, a Dine (aka Navajo) monster hunter. Genre wise, this was a mix between Urban Fantasy, Post apocalyptic and Dystopia. The Paranormal Romance portions of the first book seemed to be dropped in this one. This is a fun book, but I’ll be very blunt: it’s not as good as book 1 in the series. Now to be fair ‘Trail of Lightning’ wound up being one of my favorite book in the year I read it, so it had a large legacy to live up to. Nonetheless I found ‘Storm of Locusts’ well worth reading and can say that if you read ‘Trail of Lightning,’ then you should certainly read this.
CHARACTERS AND CHARACTERIZATION:
Maggie is emotionally healing after the last book. In book 1, Maggie had to confront her abusers, which made for a dramatic and enthralling tale. In book 2, Maggie is recovering mentally from that lifetime of abuse, and is using the wisdom she’s gained in her last battle to become a leader for the dispossessed.
In this novel, Maggie had understated characterization. In another novel this protagonist subtlety might be a problem, making the protagonist seem uninteresting. But taken as a followup to ‘Trail’ this works very well. (However I did find Maggie’s reluctance to kill slavers/organ farmers to be out of place.)
The other characters were good and at moments great, but not as nuanced as Maggie. I wanted more from Kai, as he was such an important character in book 1. Nonetheless the book sorta had ‘found family’ vibes which I enjoyed. Ben is a new favorite.
I liked the antagonist. Gideon’s a Dine who was rejected by the gods and people of Dinetah. His rejection really corrupted him. That rejection made me empathize with him (who hasn’t been abandoned in some way?), and made what would otherwise be an over-the-top evil mustache twirler of a villain feel like a cultural commentary on the dangers of disowning your own.
Overall, I give the story’s Characterization a rating of: (B+)
PACING AND STRUCTURE
Pacing wise, it was a bit slow for my taste, only picking up towards the end.
Structurally, it didn’t quite work. In the middle of the story, when the protagonists fight Bishop in Knifetown, the main antagonist becomes a secondary problem. Bishop was a diversion to Gideon.
To explain why this is bad, understand that this is a short book. Having a diversion plot beat means there’s less attention paid to the main plot. When the book is short, every diversion potentially deals a lethal strike to the main plot by drawing too much attention away. Thankfully the Knifetown sequence wasn’t that bad, but nonetheless the Knifetown sequence felt out of place.
Overall, I give the story’s Pacing and Structure: (C)
Pretty good. I liked Gideon’s plan and what the heroes had to do to defeat him. I just wish that it wasn’t so backloaded. As I said, pacing-wise the book had a slow start, and fast ending. The first half of the story was a whole lot of ‘looming threats,’ with the actual nitty-gritty. The real plot only started happening in the second half, when they leave Knifetown.
I will say that the book at times had Dresden vibes, in terms of combat. Good stuff.
Overall, I give the story’s Plot: (B)
EVERYTHING ELSE (SETTING, WORLDBUILDING, PROSE AND THEME)
The setting and worldbuilding were improved from the first book. The setting seemed more lived in and ‘normal’ in this book. It’s hard to explain. And while I didn’t like the Knifetown interlude from a structural perspective, I did enjoy the whole ‘Mad Max’ vibe it gave the story. Overall, the setting was excellent.
The prose was pretty, but without drawing attention to itself. Roanhorse is a skilled author in a technical sense; she has good chops.
The theme of the story was… Mind control? Slavery? I don’t know, but nothing is obviously apparent. I did like Gideon’s rejection of Dinetah after Dinetah rejected him. That, when combined with the turquoise wall surrounding Dinetah (the wall representing Dinetah rejecting the outside world) was nice symbolism/ironic justice. If the author just talked a little bit more about rejection (for example Maggie/Ben/Kai being rejected by friends/family), that would have been welcomed.
I give Everything Else: (A-)
Good book. While Maggie’s individual character arc wasn’t as drop dead gorgeous as it was in book 1, the character arc of Gideon was pretty good and I liked the setting even more in this one.
STARS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS (5 stars=perfect, 4 Stars=Great, 3 Stars=Good, 2 Stars=Fun but Flawed, 1 Star=Not Recommended)
JUDGEMENT: If you liked book 1, read this. This series has the makings to become the best Urban Fantasy series of the decade. If you haven’t read book 1, read book 1. I liked it a lot and intend to read more in the series.
Overall Rating: Recommended (How I Rate Books)
Genres/Tagwords: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, The Sixth World, Found Family, Kickass Female Protagonist, Mad Max vibes, Dresden Vibes
Previous books by the author/in the series I’ve reviewed: