You know when you read a blurb and think, “Oh this is going to be the best”…and then IT IS!!
I just had that moment. I’m very pleased. Elatsoe is such a brilliant delight of a book, that is both whimsical and lovely, and also has darkness and thoughtful themes to untangle. It has #ownvoices Lipan Apache rep and Ellie is also asexual (the book doesn’t talk about being aromantic but seems likely too!). My little ace heart just leaped for joy at just having casual ace rep on page. The book is full of magic and ghosts and a super sweet (ghost) dog and pistachio ice cream and deep family love and ties and…oh a murder mystery to solve.
It has it ALL.
PS. I did edit the cover into my photo as I read an eARC!
let’s tell a story of magic
I really loved the emphasis on storytelling throughout the pages. The book is packed with love for indigenous traditions, and a lot of Ellie’s life lessons come in the form of stories from her parents. Ellie is also a huge fan of her Six Great Grandma, who had the same power as Ellie: the ability to ask ghosts of animals to return from the afterlife. This magic is super fascinating (and Ellie sort of toes the line between using it safely and not). Ellie’s companion the whole way through is her little ghost dog Kirby, who died of old age but she brought him back so she’d never have to miss him. 🥺💛💛 My heart just got soft and flopped all over the place.
The world is also our world but…not. It’s this slightly alternate reality where there’s magic and vampires and ghosts and all sorts of mythology. Ellie’s still dealing with racism and white men who think they’re better than everyone else. But there’s dark magical secrets and mysteries to unravel. And sometimes Ellie sort of wakens a thousand year old trillobite too. Just everyday things you know!! This is such deft and beautifully crafted magical realism. I loved the world.
what goes down
So the premise is that Ellie’s cousin dies unexpectedly, but the facts about his “car accident” don’t add up, and Ellie knows it’s foul play. She ends up investigating this odd little town where people don’t stop staring at strangers, and when her cousin’s ghost names his murderer in a dream, Ellie will stop at nothing to figure out WHAT happened. The have the culprit, but not the why or how.
It did get creepy in one stage and I was reading at night and was just sort of shivering. The writing is excellent like that. Total fan. Freak me out, little book, I approve.
the characters are everything!
So Ellie is amazing!! She has such a dry, wry voice and humour, and she’s so sure of herself. She’s confident about being ace and she cracks jokes about it. Her family is her anchor, and she’s definitely a little anxious too. There’s no romance! Her best friend is Jay who is, look I’m going to say it, a himbo. 😂 He is a tall blonde cheerleader dumbass and he’s just lovely?! The whole way through he is LOVELY. Supportive of Ellie and there to help her look into the mystery of her cousin’s murder. Ellie’s family is amazing (she loves her parents!! talks to her parents!!) and there’s such a motley of side characters who are interesting and strange and dynamic. And Kirby is THE BEST GHOST DOG I WILL CRY tHIS ALWAYS.
It’s brilliant. The whole world felt fresh and different, catching my attention from the first page with its engaging writing and characters I just want to adore forever. (There are also little illustrations!!) It has heart-aching moments, and also funny humorous parts. The BEST combination.
Thanks Levine Querido Publishing for the eARC! Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger came out in August 25, 2020.
Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream.
There are some differences. This America been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day.
Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family.
would you actually like to talk to ghosts or is that a pass? 👀and is this on your TBR, because it should be!!