Rebecca Roanhorse bottled lightning once, and now she is back to do it again
Storm of Locusts picks up not too long after Trail of Lightning. Maggie agrees to help the Thirsty Boys apprehend the White Locust, a strange cult leader buying up explosives. The mission goes sideways in a big way, and Maggie picks up the pieces and finds herself responsible for a young woman, Ben, with some clan powers, a chip on her shoulder, and nothing left to lose—remind you of anyone? Maggie, Ben, and other allies have to leave Dinétah to find the White Locust—as well as Kai Arviso, Maggie’s onetime love and the man she killed to save the day last time.
I actually remember very little about the plot of Trail of Lightning. Roanhorse drops the major details here and there, but she is restrained with the exposition—usually a plus, and to be honest, you don’t need to remember all the details of the first book to follow this one. In fact, I found this one eminently satisfying: I read it in a single Sunday afternoon!
Roanhorse has the knack for getting you into the action quickly—essential in urban fantasy, in my opinion. I’m not just talking about an action sequnence near the beginning, either! She wastes no time getting us into the main plot. This holds for the entire book: Storm of Locusts is lean, its subplots tightly woven parallel to the weft of the main plot. As a result, the pace feels fast yet even. Short pit stops as Maggie gets diverted from her main goal always turn out to advance the main plot too.
Maggie has some damage—but who doesn’t in this post-apocalyptic world? I appreciate how Roanhorse balances Maggie’s psychological trauma and likely PTSD with self-awareness and compassion. She has a sense of humour, and she can land a good burn, but she isn’t the stereotypical wise-cracking badass you tend to get in these types of books. She’s … Maggie. And if the first book was about her accepting her power and moving on from her former mentor/lover, this one is about forging her own path. Or so she thinks….
As I said in my review of Trail of Lightning, it’s not my lane to comment on the representation of the Diné and their culture here. All I can do is repeat my pleasure that it is becoming easier and easier to find authentic voices who can write a variety of stories and imagine futures for their people. I’m not being original when I comment that Indigenous nations are better equipped to handle the next apocalypse because they’ve lived through one already—this quip is bleak but accurate, in my opinion, and Storm of Locusts reinforces this. The next apocalypse is always just around the corner.
I’ll close by commenting on the relationships. The only one I didn’t find satisfying was probably one of the most important—Maggie and Kai. Their reunion was rushed and fraught with confusion. Everyone else was great! I loved the frenemy vibe between Maggie and Rissa Goldacre, the grudging respect that builds as they work together. There’s nothing like characters who have legitimate reasons for not seeing eye-to-eye!
A worthy sequel to a fun and furious first book.