Seamless world-building, loveable characters, a high-stakes mystery, just enough creepiness, and meaningful reflections on grief made this a very satisfying read.
Elatsoe was named for the Lipan word for hummingbird, but it is also the name of her Six-Great Grandmother who was a passionate, powerful woman who, like Ellie and her mother, could wake ghosts from the spirit world. Six-Great used her pack of ghost dogs to fight monsters-- literal and human-- to protect her people. Ellie's grandmother woke a mammoth spirit for protection and companionship. Ellie keeps the ghost of her beloved English springer spaniel, Kirby, near to play fetch, give her emotional support, and yes, keep her safe.
When Ellie gets hints that what was deemed a tragic accident was actually a murder, she, Kirby, her cheerleader best friend Jay, and a wider group of supporters including Ellie's mom, Jay's sister, Jay's sister's vampire fiance, and Jay's sister's basketball teammates, face all kinds of danger to bring justice-- not vengeance.
It’s worth noting that even though Ellie is 17 and this is a young adult novel, it would work very well for advanced younger readers (10+) and adults who are interested in murder mysteries and the paranormal. --Tegan
An amazing debut Indigenous Futurism novel! The main character is a serious, asexual, Native American girl, who is out to solve the murder of a family member. She has some help though; a good friend, her ghost dog, and the stories and legacy of the ancestor who she was named after. A thrilling read!
"Atmospheric and lyrical...a gorgeous work of art."—BuzzFeed
"One of the best YA debuts of 2020. Read it."—Marieke Nijkamp
★ "A fresh voice and perspective."—Booklist, starred review
★ "A unique and powerful Native American voice."—BookPage, starred review
★ "A brilliant, engaging debut."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ "A fast-paced murder mystery."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "A Lipan Apache Sookie Stackhouse for the teen set."—Shelf-Awareness, starred review
A Texas teen comes face-to-face with a cousin's ghost and vows to unmask the murderer.
Elatsoe—Ellie for short—lives in an alternate contemporary America shaped by the ancestral magics and knowledge of its Indigenous and immigrant groups. She can raise the spirits of dead animals—most importantly, her ghost dog Kirby. When her beloved cousin dies, all signs point to a car crash, but his ghost tells her otherwise: He was murdered.
Who killed him and how did he die? With the help of her family, her best friend Jay, and the memory great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother, Elatsoe, must track down the killer and unravel the mystery of this creepy town and it's dark past. But will the nefarious townsfolk and a mysterious Doctor stop her before she gets started?
A breathtaking debut novel featuring an asexual, Apache teen protagonist, Elatsoe combines mystery, horror, noir, ancestral knowledge, haunting illustrations, fantasy elements, and is one of the most-talked about debuts of the year.
About the Author
Darcie Little Badger is an Earth scientist, writer, and fan of the weird, beautiful, and haunting. She is an enrolled member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas. Her Locus Award-winning debut novel, Elatsoe, was a National Indie Bestseller, named to over a dozen best-of-year lists, and called one of the Best 100 Fantasy Novels of All Time by TIME. Her second novel, A Snake Falls to Earth was longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and received a Newbery Award Honor.
Rovina Cai is a freelance illustrator based in Melbourne, Australia. She works out of an old convent building that is possibly haunted. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators and the Children's Book Council of Australia. Recently she has illustrated books by Patrick Ness and Margo Lanagan. Instagram @rovinacai
"[A] refreshing voice. Indigenous myths, modern-day technology, and the supernatural successfully blend to build a fast-paced murder mystery."-Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A brilliant, engaging debut. It seamlessly blends cyberstalking with Vampire Citizen Centers and Lipan Apache stories." - KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review)
"Creative and meticulously plotted. a Lipan Apache Sookie Stackhouse for the teen set." - SHELF-AWARENESS starred review
"A fresh voice and perspective, weaving in folktales, omens, and urban legends of the protagonist's Lipan Apache culture." - BOOKLIST (starred review)
"A strong heroine, a supernatural mystery and a unique and powerful Native American voice."-BOOKPAGE (starred review)
?"This absorbing and haunting speculative fiction debut challenges expectations at every turn."- HORN BOOK (starred review)
"Utterly magical." - SYFYWIRE
"Beautiful. Sinister. Deeply enjoyable from start to finish." - NPR