Elatsoe by Darcy Little Badger
Format: ARC provided by Raincoast books
Published by: Levine Querido
Top 3 Genres: Paranormal, Indigenous Author, Young adult
My rating: Set it on fire/ If you have nothing else to read/ you need to read it/Run and buy it.
To buy the book: CA•US• FR• Bookdep
Add to: Goodreads
Hey bookdragons! I’m super excited to share with you today review, as this book has been a beautiful discovery and it is the PERFECT book to read this Fall! So let’s dive in Elatsoe!
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.
5 reasons why you need to read Elatsoe
There are SO many aspects of this book I could tell you about and that I loved, so I thought I’m gonna do bullet points to put some order to my thoughts!
- the world-building: a book happening in our world, in America more precisely, with a little twist, is my favorite kind of setting! Here, we have all that our regular world can offer (cellphones, the internet, schools, cars, you name it) BUT we also have fairy rings allowing you to teleport, vampires, monsters of the deep, and of course, ghosts! Magic is accepted as normal, as part of our history, and I loved it!
- an Indigenous and asexual OwnVoice: when I requested this book, part of it was because it was written by Darcy Little Badger, a Lipan Apache author, and it felt important to me to help promote such a story, as I think we should give more space to Indigenous authors on our shelves! I didn’t know then that Darcy Little Badger is asexual, and so is Elatsoe her main character. So that was a good surprise (I’m always more excited about books showing more than just het’ cis characters haha). It was really great to have a character clearly identifying as asexual in the book, without it being the center of the story, it’s just one of the things that make Elatsoe who she is, and no one is making a bit deal out of it. It just is. Now, having her be a Lipan Apache was a real discovery to me, as I was not familiar with their beliefs and lore. The author also does not shy away from mentioning how Indigenous people were chased from their lands (but they are still theirs, as some vampire will rapidly learn- pretty badass moment there!) or how Elatsoe can have to face racism in the everyday life, with the little things that still hurt.
- the legends: all through the book, we learn a lot about Elatsoe, especially her female ancestors, who could raise ghosts (her grandma had a mammoth as a pet basically). We discover the legends of Elatsoe’s six Great, who was an incredible woman, with her ghost hounds, fighting monsters and invaders with bravery. It invited us both in Apache’s lore and in Elatsoe’s family history, so rich and magical! As a lover of fairy tales and legends, it was one of my favorite parts of the book!
- the ghosts: Elatsoe, just like her mom, can raise ghosts of dead animals (never humans, who are full of rage and very dangerous), her best friend is her past away dog Kirby. But one night, Elatsoe is visited in dreams by the spirit of her departed cousin, who reveals he was murdered. Convinced it was not a simple dream, Elatsoe, with the help of her friends and family, will try to uncover a very dark and old secret, that cost her beloved cousin’s life.
- the family: I do not know if it was just because of this author, or if it is more because of cultural differences, but Elatsoe parents were present all through the book. She talked with them, discussed with them, kept them (mostly) updated on what was going on, and they were there for her. Trusting her and helping her. It was such a good change to have parents present in a YA novel! That’s an element that always frustrates me when I read contemporary YA: where are the parents? Well in this book, they were here and it made it so much better!
OMG this is already way too long, as usual, I promised I tried, but there are so many good things that can be said about this book!!! I didn’t even say it all, but honestly, if you look for an original OwnVoices ghost story, with a light thriller vibe, go for this one! It is simply a perfect Fall read!
See you for a cup,
PS: I wished I could have linked you to OwnVoices reviews of this book, but I didn’t find any yet, if you know some, don’t hesitate to let me know!