[REVIEW] Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger

(Buy it HERE.)

Seventeen-year old Elatsoe Bride has inherited the secrets of calling up the dead from her Six-Great-Grandmother, who bore the same name and protected the Apache people from invaders with a pack of trained ghost dogs and peerless bravery. Young Elatsoe has the same fearless streak and unnerving talents as her ancestor but not much call to use them, until a family tragedy pushes her to her limits. In an alternate modern America where magic is real, the supernatural is science, and bloodlines often carry small supernatural benefits, Elatsoe must solve a crime with the help of her family, heritage, and a best friend who just happens to be descended from Oberon. ⠀

I loved this. It’s rare that I get entirely lost in a book but I barely came up for air while reading. There’s something cinematic about it–I could almost see the people and places coming to life in front of my eyes as I read. Somehow this is a ghost story, a whodunit, a fairy tale and a high school summer feel-good caper all at once but it works. The writing isn’t complicated and the prose isn’t particularly descriptive–it’s just really, really good storytelling. ⠀

The fairy tale parts of the story are heavily based on things from Little Badger’s own Lipan Apache background. Out of all the different types of stories there are, ones that feature cultural redemption are my favorites. The magic in this fantasy world didn’t stop colonization, genocide or oppression of Indigenous Americans, so the themes underlying this book have a lot to say about those things–never in a heavy-handed way, but openly, honestly and with a sense of power, not defeat. There’s a scene where a character outwits a European vampire by reminding him that he is a settler on colonized land and revoking his welcome that actually made me put down the book and cheer out loud. The story is grounded in real cultural issues and is all the better for it. The heroine, Elatsoe, is also asexual but that doesn’t figure into the story much.

2020 is almost over but this is definitely going on my best-of-year list. Great storytelling, affirming cultural foundations, and a badass main character–what’s not to love? ⠀

5 stars and the howls of a pack of ghost dogs to Elatsoe.

(The year is almost over, beautiful people! Soon I’ll be doing a best reads of 2020 post, and this book will definitely be on it. If you want to read it before I gush about it again, buy it at my Bookshop, and be aware that this blog has affiliate relationships and any clicks and purchases will result in a commission being earned. Peace!)


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