Trail of the Dead

By The Horn Book

Having escaped from the post-apocalyptic prisonlike Haven in Killer of Enemies, battle-hardened Lozen leads her band of refugees through the desert toward Valley Where First Light Paints the Cliffs, the place where Lozen’s family lived before their capture. They face many dangers: not only is the desert filled with genetically modified monsters created in the time before the Silver Cloud wiped out all electronics on Earth, but the elite Ones who rule Haven are out to punish and kill their unwilling subjects, sending a Lakota near-immortal assassin named Luther Little Wound to hunt Lozen down. Nor is Lozen at peak fighting strength—her spirit is afflicted with something her Apache-Chiricahua ancestors called Enemy Sickness, or post-traumatic stress. Although the narrative objective in this sequel is slightly more diffuse than that of its razor-sharp predecessor, the sardonic protagonist is as magnetic, the peril is as intense, and the invention is as fresh as ever as Bruchac develops his dystopian world in new and intriguing directions. Native American legends, including those about irascible trickster Coyote, enrich the tale while familiarizing readers with contexts such as the circumstances under which traditional tales are told and their continued resilience in the face of cultural erasure. An author’s note adds even more detail. Bruchac’s exhilarating story leaves him with plenty of momentum heading into the projected final book of the trilogy.