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Elatsoe

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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 th 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.


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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 th 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.

30 review for Elatsoe

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

    Author has confirmed that the mc is asexual!! This sounds amazing!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lala BooksandLala

    Flawless

  3. 5 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    You know that moment when you read a blurb and whisper, "Oh this is going to be the best"...and then IT IS THE BEST?! 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's #ownvoices Lipan Apache rep and I so loved that. Plus Ellie is asexual (doesn't talk about aromanticism but seems likely too!) and my little ace heart just leaped for joy. Then it has magic and gh You know that moment when you read a blurb and whisper, "Oh this is going to be the best"...and then IT IS THE BEST?! 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's #ownvoices Lipan Apache rep and I so loved that. Plus Ellie is asexual (doesn't talk about aromanticism but seems likely too!) and my little ace heart just leaped for joy. Then it has magic and ghosts and the absolute bestest best of doggos and ice cream and OH also murder so. It has it all. ...let's tell a story of magic... I really loved the emphasis on storytelling throughout the pages. There's lots 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) greats grandmother, who had the same power as Ellie: the ability to ask ghosts of animals to return from the afterlife. Okay this magic is super fascinating (and Ellie sort of toes the line between using it safely and not) and Ellie's companion the whole way through is her little ghost dog Kirby, who died of old age but she brought 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. Just our world, but this slight alternate realty where there's magic and vampires and ghosts. 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 oh, 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 of 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. ...the characters... So Ellie is amazing, she has such a dry, wry voice and humour, and she's so sure of herself. She's never unsure about being ace and she'll crack jokes about it. 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 cheerleading 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. So you know what?! Just read this. 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!!)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Leo

    Apparently the main character is asexual and this book is written by an Apache author. This is the book I didn’t know I needed in my life

  5. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    If she concentrated, Ellie could feel her consciousness brush countless others; they were ghosts in the underworld Below. She wondered if she could wake them all up. How long would they play in the dark until they drifted off to sleep again? I'd been hanging out for this book since I read the synopsis - it's finally here and it is so good! At the most basic level, we've got a murder mystery - always a good start - but there's so much more. Ellie (Elatsoe) lives in a United States very similar to If she concentrated, Ellie could feel her consciousness brush countless others; they were ghosts in the underworld Below. She wondered if she could wake them all up. How long would they play in the dark until they drifted off to sleep again? I'd been hanging out for this book since I read the synopsis - it's finally here and it is so good! At the most basic level, we've got a murder mystery - always a good start - but there's so much more. Ellie (Elatsoe) lives in a United States very similar to our own, though magic, fairies, and vampires (at least) exist. She's got the family gift of calling to the dead, one passed down through the women of the family as they reach their teens (just wait til you get to the one who uses a mammoth for help with her weekly grocery shop!). But it's not all helpful prehistory - it's made clear that there's big risks involved if you overreach or don't think your calling through. The illustrations are lovely, and the writing is straightforward and simple, but so readable. It almost skews it a little younger to me, and the protagonists are an ambiguous teen age (though I'd guess 15-16) which furthered that impression. That is, until the stakes (heh) started to raise, and some of the horror elements came to the front more - they were delightfully creepy, too! I would maybe have liked a tad more worldbuilding, but you're definitely not left without enough information for the story. It's just that this world sounds absolutely fascinating, and after what we were shown, I definitely want more. Despite the potentially ghoulish themes, overall this book was an absolute delight. When the world is falling apart, it's always nice to have an uplifting escape.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)

    Loved it! Now I'm wishing I could raise my dogs as ghosts. :(

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rishika Aggarwal

    culture was the most important part of belonging It's been a while since I read a YA that sang to me in the way that this book did. In a world similar to our own, but shaped by magic as much as by technology, Elatsoe can raise the ghosts of the dead. Knowledge says that her skill should be limited to animals, and human ghosts are less the people they once were and more vengeful spirits that cannot be controlled. But when her cousin dies in a suspicious hit-and-run, and his ghost visits her d culture was the most important part of belonging It's been a while since I read a YA that sang to me in the way that this book did. In a world similar to our own, but shaped by magic as much as by technology, Elatsoe can raise the ghosts of the dead. Knowledge says that her skill should be limited to animals, and human ghosts are less the people they once were and more vengeful spirits that cannot be controlled. But when her cousin dies in a suspicious hit-and-run, and his ghost visits her dreams to tell her he was murdered, Ellie finds herself entangled in a mystery that will have her facing not only a centuries-old secret, but also the depths of her own abilities. Ellie wanted to meet every species on the tree of life. Witness the ghosts of its oldest branches. Velociraptors. Giant sloths. Megalodon sharks. I loved Ellie so much. She's an amazingly developed character, and she felt real. She's confident in who she is and her abilities, and she never doubts that she'll be able to solve the murder mystery she's been thrown into. She's dry, a little sarcastic, and a lot loyal. But what sells the book and the character for me is that she's never not a 17-year old girl. i was never left feeling like she was acting too old for her age, and one of the best written scenes, in my opinion, is towards the end, when her mother accompanies her and her friends on their way to the 'climactic battle.' She is still a child, and the reader never forgets it - which is something I think is sorely lacking in YA. To her, Six-Great was immortal; the stories made her that way. They carried her personality through the generations. The one thing I really liked in this book was the importance of storytelling and history. As Lipan Apache, Ellie's powers have been passed down her family line for generations. The strongest among the ones who came before her was her Six Great-Grandmother, and Ellie's understanding of her powers are couched in the stories of her heroic ancestor. At the same time, the book does not shy away from the painful history of Native Americans, instead choosing to confront that history of discrimination and genocide first hand. Even in this alternate world, some events remain unchanged, and Ellie's is always painfully aware of the history of persecution and death that she and hers have faced at the hand of white people. “My grandmother found a woolly mammoth tusk ages ago. It took, like, four decades, but the mammoth is now her best friend.” . “Fairy rings. That’s such a cute term for wormholes that slice through reality.” I really enjoyed the magic system in this book. There's SO MUCH to explore and dig into that i don't even know what to say, but I found the way that Ellie and her family have a history of ghost pets - from dogs to GHOST MAMMOTHS!!!! - utterly adorable. I'd love to see this system explored more, and I'm SO hopeful for more books in this universe. As much as Ellie loathed romantic relationship talk—she’d never been on a date, didn’t plan to go on a date, and didn’t know how to counsel or console friends about the whole “dating” thing—she couldn’t leave a puppy in the rain. I also loved the unashamed, unflinching display of Ellie's asexuality. It's never a fact that is questioned - either by her or by any other character, including ones she's only just met - and it's never used as a source of angst. It's an amazing way to write a character, from Ellie's confidence in it to the fact that no one else doubts it either. I loved it so much. It should have been a proud moment, but Ellie also felt profoundly sad. The Leech was the last of its kind. The monsters of her ancestors had been replaced by different threats. There's just so, so much more in this book that I want to mention: • Ellie's relationship with her parents - actually functional! They talk! And discuss things! And trust each other! More of this trend in YA tbh • The rest of the characters - each and every one of the relevant characters felt fleshed out, even Ronnie and the starting lineup, and Aunt Bell, all of whom only appear for short moments. (As an aside, I love for Ronnie and the starting lineup and want a book about them). • Kirby the ghost dog !!!!!!!!! • The revived ghost trilobite !!!!! • The ancient sea of ghosts !!!!! Honestly, just read this book yesterday. It's amazing and you need it in your life. 4.5/5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars for me, of the "She just rides the mammoth to town when she needs groceries" variety. INSTAGRAM

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brody (ettubrody)

    Thanks to both Darcie Little Badger and Levine Querido for providing me with an ARC of this book. "Don't rush stories. That's sacrilegious." ELATSOE is one of my most anticipated releases of 2020, and it did not disappoint. Every chapter draws you deeper into this world where humans walk side by side with the beings from lore. This book strikes the perfect balance of humor, action, loss, and nerdiness that I was expecting from it. I think what I appreciated the most about ELATSOE is that while Ell Thanks to both Darcie Little Badger and Levine Querido for providing me with an ARC of this book. "Don't rush stories. That's sacrilegious." ELATSOE is one of my most anticipated releases of 2020, and it did not disappoint. Every chapter draws you deeper into this world where humans walk side by side with the beings from lore. This book strikes the perfect balance of humor, action, loss, and nerdiness that I was expecting from it. I think what I appreciated the most about ELATSOE is that while Ellie is definitely the hero of the story, she isn't alone and never acts like she is. Her friends, family, and the best damn ghost dog in the world rally around her as she tries to bring her cousin's murderer to justice. It's refreshing to read about in a genre that often falls into the "I have to do this alone" trope. I also really enjoyed the way that Ellie's family history, particularly that of her six-great grandmother, is so integrated into the story. As a Native reviewer myself, my history is something that's very important to me, and I was grateful to see that represented. Big love for Kirby the Ghost Dog, Native vampires, and an unexpected heist scene as well! Make sure you get your hands on this one, folks.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    This is exceptional, I hope Darcie writes for a thousand years, this is such a good book. Illustrated! Ghosts! Family! Very Good Ghost Dogs! Ace main character! Storytelling! Ghost Whales! Vampires! Ghost Mosquitos! Friendship!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Y’ALL. My goodness, this book is SO good. I’ve been waiting for Darcie Little Badger to publish a full length novel since seeing her speak at an SFF convention years ago, and her debut YA Fantasy, Elatsoe, still completely surpassed my expectations. I can’t wait for everyone to be reading this beautiful, special novel.⁣ ⁣ Elatsoe is set in a world like our own, but all of the monsters and magic from myth and legend are real. Think ghosts, vampires, animated scarecrows, coyote people, and the fae a Y’ALL. My goodness, this book is SO good. I’ve been waiting for Darcie Little Badger to publish a full length novel since seeing her speak at an SFF convention years ago, and her debut YA Fantasy, Elatsoe, still completely surpassed my expectations. I can’t wait for everyone to be reading this beautiful, special novel.⁣ ⁣ Elatsoe is set in a world like our own, but all of the monsters and magic from myth and legend are real. Think ghosts, vampires, animated scarecrows, coyote people, and the fae and you’ll start to get there. Intrepid Ellie is a young Lipan Apache woman who guards a family secret that allows her to wake the spirits of deceased animals, passed down through generations of women beginning with her heroic Six Great Grandmother. When her beloved cousin is murdered by a powerful man in a mysterious nearby town and the police deem the death an accident, Ellie sets off to take justice into her own hands, with the help of her ghost dog best friend (Kirby), her best human friend (Jay), and her parents.⁣ ⁣ Although the narrative arc is more murder mystery than fantasy, Little Badger astonishes with her deft and exciting worldbuilding. I could not get enough of the details she packed into the world, and I would love more books to explore greater facets of this fascinating and so well executed concept. The characters also soar as high as the worldbuilding, Ellie is a brave and smart kid, and I loved her friendship with Jay, and how she worked with and relied on her family in her pursuit of justice rather than going rogue.⁣ ⁣ ALSO Ellie is #ownvoices asexual, a pretty casual but well done element of the novel. In an interview Little Badger explains, “It’s rare to see asexual characters in general. And when they do appear, they tend to fall into certain categories. Like, they’re robotic or they’re trying to come to terms with their asexuality, and that’s the entire focus of the book. I wanted to write a fantasy adventure with an asexual main character ‘cause I myself am asexual, and I’m getting married to another asexual Native, and we’re both big nerds who play tabletop roleplaying games on the weekend. So, we’re out there!” 💜⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ This is honestly just one of my favorite books I’ve read this year, and I highly encourage you to pick it up! Plus Elatsoe was just named one of the 100 best fantasy novels OF ALL TIME by a panel of powerhouse fantasy authors for Time Magazine, so if my endorsement wasn’t enough 🙂

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth☮

    There is so much to love about this one: the author is Lipan Apache and brings the rich oral tradition of storytelling into the story; the publisher, LevinQuerido , specializes in publishing underrepresented voices; the main character is a teenager that has a ghost dog for her companion; there are vampires in the story. But, the elements didn't always gel in a way that feels cohesive. Ellie (Elatsoe - E LAT so Ay) is a teenager that gets sad news at the beginning of the book. This sets her on a There is so much to love about this one: the author is Lipan Apache and brings the rich oral tradition of storytelling into the story; the publisher, LevinQuerido , specializes in publishing underrepresented voices; the main character is a teenager that has a ghost dog for her companion; there are vampires in the story. But, the elements didn't always gel in a way that feels cohesive. Ellie (Elatsoe - E LAT so Ay) is a teenager that gets sad news at the beginning of the book. This sets her on a journey to uncover some gritty details about society. I'm trying not to give anything away from the story. The story incorporates the Lipan culture while also weaving in elements of mysticism. This is set in an alternate reality and is filled with elements of magical realism. I liked the storyline, but I felt like there needed to be a stronger through line to tie the story together.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelsea

    Elatsoe came highly recommended by my trusted friend Elise, so it's no surprise that it turned out to be a spectacular book! It's an #ownvoices story of a Lipan Apache teenager whose identity is very much woven in. Elatsoe (Ellie) is a great character, with an adorable ghost dog and an awesome cast of friends and family. (She's also ace!) Ellie investigates a mystery that's done in such a clever way -- I won't say more for fear of spoiling anyone's reading experience, but I love how the mystery Elatsoe came highly recommended by my trusted friend Elise, so it's no surprise that it turned out to be a spectacular book! It's an #ownvoices story of a Lipan Apache teenager whose identity is very much woven in. Elatsoe (Ellie) is a great character, with an adorable ghost dog and an awesome cast of friends and family. (She's also ace!) Ellie investigates a mystery that's done in such a clever way -- I won't say more for fear of spoiling anyone's reading experience, but I love how the mystery played out. Really looking forward to reading more by Darcie Little Badger. 4.5 stars!! (Also, for those interested in pretty books: the hardcover is absolutely STUNNING -- the naked cover has beautiful designs on it, the illustrations by Rovina Cai are gorgeous, and the metallic lettering on the dust jacket all combine to make it one of the most beautiful books I own.) 🖤

  13. 5 out of 5

    alleah

    TW: death, murder, blood, ghosts & monsters, racism, grief, gore, abuse towards Indigenous people ❝ Maybe, sometimes, wants felt like needs. Because the alternative hurt too bad. 4 stars | That was SO enjoyable, oh my goodness. Darcie Little Badger is a debut voice that I cannot wait to see grow, and I swear I will buy anything she puts out. We have so many fantastic elements to this story. A strong female protagonist who was nerdy and resilient and funny and super genuine and loyal? Chec TW: death, murder, blood, ghosts & monsters, racism, grief, gore, abuse towards Indigenous people ❝ Maybe, sometimes, wants felt like needs. Because the alternative hurt too bad. 4 stars | That was SO enjoyable, oh my goodness. Darcie Little Badger is a debut voice that I cannot wait to see grow, and I swear I will buy anything she puts out. We have so many fantastic elements to this story. A strong female protagonist who was nerdy and resilient and funny and super genuine and loyal? Check. She was also asexual and aromantic and gah! I loved Ellie so much. The platonic friendship she had with Jay was SO refreshing to see and I need more YA books that don’t revolve around romance because BRO THIS REALLY HITS DIFFERENT. Speaking of refreshing though, I absolutely loved how Darcie Little Badger took concepts we YA readers see far too often in plots and just went “nah” and pulled a full 180 on us. For example, I’m so used to reading about a main character having some kind of prophetic dream and needing to spend 50% of the book convincing the people around them that they’re not lying and it was SO NICE to see that NOT happen here. Ellie is immediately trusted by her parents, and that parental support continues throughout the book which was so beautiful and comforting to see. My favorite scene—which I won’t spoil, don’t worry—has to do with vampires and a car chase and that’s all I’ll say. If you read this (which you should, ASAP) you’ll immediately know what scene I’m referencing. And must I just say: how BADASS was that???? Anyway I can rave about this book for hours, but I do want to say that the final conflict and general climax of this story felt a bit too comedic for my taste. I thought it could have been much more tense and scary, and for being in a YA mystery I really wanted more from it. But still, I did enjoy it plenty and I was obviously hooked. All in all, a fantastic book that needs to be on EVERYONE’S radar. Seriously, read this.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erin || erins_library

    (Review copy provided by the publisher) Elatsoe is a young adult novel set in a world close to our own, but with magical abilities and mythical creatures that are commonplace enough that no one bats an eye at it. The main character, Ellie, is Lipan Apache, asexual, and has the ability to raise ghosts of the dead. Ellie’s ability is passed down through lessons and stories in her family. It’s a responsibility they carry to remember it and keep it out of the hands of the wrong people. What I enjoyed (Review copy provided by the publisher) Elatsoe is a young adult novel set in a world close to our own, but with magical abilities and mythical creatures that are commonplace enough that no one bats an eye at it. The main character, Ellie, is Lipan Apache, asexual, and has the ability to raise ghosts of the dead. Ellie’s ability is passed down through lessons and stories in her family. It’s a responsibility they carry to remember it and keep it out of the hands of the wrong people. What I enjoyed about this book was the strong family relationships and the friendship. I could feel how much they all loved each other. And I was left thinking a lot about the importance of stories - how they carry our history and shape us. This is a wonderful book with a great world and characters. I wholeheartedly recommend if you’re looking for urban/low fantasy with a side of murder mystery. There’s a conversation to be had about white people and the exploitation of Indigenous people’s lands, resources, bodies... and thinking throwing money at it will make it fine. The perception is that their lives have more value than those of BIPOC people. CW: grief, mourning, death

  15. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    All the beautiful dogs in this book!! I can't express how much joy it brought to see "and to all the dogs we've loved" included in the dedication that of course I have to mention that fact first. So much love for dogs on every page here - I felt every bit of that with every ounce of my heart. While admittedly I haven't been in the mood to read YA as much as I used to these days, and it did take a little bit of struggle to get into it again here (a reflection on my weird headspace, not this lovely All the beautiful dogs in this book!! I can't express how much joy it brought to see "and to all the dogs we've loved" included in the dedication that of course I have to mention that fact first. So much love for dogs on every page here - I felt every bit of that with every ounce of my heart. While admittedly I haven't been in the mood to read YA as much as I used to these days, and it did take a little bit of struggle to get into it again here (a reflection on my weird headspace, not this lovely book!!), I have NO END of admiration for the genre, which does so many things very well, but most notably, has championed the manifestation of diverse books sooner and better than most other genres. This #ownvoices story is fresh, inventive, and so very important, reminding me just how much I need more Indigenous fiction on my shelves. The emphasis on family and history, especially through the power of storytelling, was truly beautiful. This is also the first book I've read that's featured an asexual protagonist, inadvertently teaching the stubborn hopeless romantic in me to remember that good love stories don't only come from romance, but friendship and family too (and dogs - always the dogs!) The blend of magic and reality here also has to be mentioned - it felt so natural, and I loved every detail we were given, from Oberon descendants to fairy ring transport centers to ghosts and animal people. In short, I hope I get out of this weird funk asap where I think I've outgrown YA, because there's just so much it can offer - as this book so graciously proves.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

    Elatsoe takes place in an America just parallel to the one we know. Ellie (short for Elatsoe) and her ghost-dog Kirby seek answers to a cousin’s mysterious death in a car accident on a lonely rural road. Using her Lipan Apache tribal wisdom and lore, with assists from her deceased ancestors and living family and friends—not to mention prehistoric animals brought back to life--Ellie uncovers the horrifying secret of the town where her cousin lived and died. Darcie Little Badger’s debut young adul Elatsoe takes place in an America just parallel to the one we know. Ellie (short for Elatsoe) and her ghost-dog Kirby seek answers to a cousin’s mysterious death in a car accident on a lonely rural road. Using her Lipan Apache tribal wisdom and lore, with assists from her deceased ancestors and living family and friends—not to mention prehistoric animals brought back to life--Ellie uncovers the horrifying secret of the town where her cousin lived and died. Darcie Little Badger’s debut young adult novel includes elements of horror and mystery, including vampires that serve as metaphors for how Ellie’s tribe and other indigenous peoples were and are routinely victimized. I especially liked how the primary plot gave way in numerous places to other tales that reinforced the importance of story-telling and oral traditions in many indigenous American cultures. Elatsoe will appeal to young readers who enjoy fantasy, thrillers, and weird fiction in the vein of Andrew Smith and A. S. King. Note: Because of my work with the 2020 Cybils Awards in young adult literature, for the next few months, I will review but not rate works of young adult literature to keep the judging process as opaque as possible.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

    Main character is asexual? Ghost? Monsters? Scary things? Please, for the love of all things good.... give me this book. Right. Now.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amy Sturgis

    Read this beautiful, beautiful book. You can find my longer review here. Read this beautiful, beautiful book. You can find my longer review here.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pine Reads Review

    "‘You aren’t the only Elatsoe to visit the underworld, Ellie,’ she said. ‘You’re just the only one to return alive.’” Seventeen-year-old Elatsoe lives in a world a lot like ours, with school, pistachio ice cream, and her beloved cocker spaniel, Kirby. But her world has quite a few differences too. Through the knowledge passed down by her Lipan Apache ancestors, she has learned to interact with the spirit world. When her cousin dies under mysterious circumstances, Elatsoe is visited by him in a dr "‘You aren’t the only Elatsoe to visit the underworld, Ellie,’ she said. ‘You’re just the only one to return alive.’” Seventeen-year-old Elatsoe lives in a world a lot like ours, with school, pistachio ice cream, and her beloved cocker spaniel, Kirby. But her world has quite a few differences too. Through the knowledge passed down by her Lipan Apache ancestors, she has learned to interact with the spirit world. When her cousin dies under mysterious circumstances, Elatsoe is visited by him in a dream with an ominous message: he was murdered. Determined to bring his killer to justice, Elatsoe visits the mysterious town of Willowbee in order to uncover its darkest secrets with the help of her friends, family, and undead dog. In an America shaped by ghosts, monsters, and indigenous legend, Elatsoe must use her investigative insight and supernatural abilities to defeat an insidious evil. I cannot give enough praise for this debut novel. The smooth intertwining of otherworldly into the familiar creates one of the best examples of magical realism I have had the pleasure to read. Part hard-boiled detective novel, part supernatural fantasy, Elatsoe is a book of its own category entirely. The suspense written throughout the book moves naturally from one discovery to the next, leading the reader fully captivated with Elatsoe’s investigative process. She is smart, confident, and a skilled raiser of ghosts, but the reader can still see themselves reflected in the doubts and fears of a young girl. Elatsoe is unafraid to be her indigenous, female, asexual self, despite the prejudices she faces, and is an inspiring character to read about within this ghostly and enchanting prose. Content Warnings: Death, violence, mentions of colonization and genocide Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @pinereadsreview and check out our website at www.pinereadsreview.com for reviews, interviews, blogs, podcast episodes, and more!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jim Grimsley

    This is a very fine young adult debut; I am only beginning to read books in this field, but this certainly ranks as one of the best - perhaps the best - I've read so far. What makes this book distinct is the solidity of the family core, the use of first-nations themes and stories, and the lack of emphasis on romance; the main character declares herself to be asexual, and the book makes that both important (in terms of breaking new ground with the use of the term) and unimportant (in that everyon This is a very fine young adult debut; I am only beginning to read books in this field, but this certainly ranks as one of the best - perhaps the best - I've read so far. What makes this book distinct is the solidity of the family core, the use of first-nations themes and stories, and the lack of emphasis on romance; the main character declares herself to be asexual, and the book makes that both important (in terms of breaking new ground with the use of the term) and unimportant (in that everyone in the book accepts her as she is). It was refreshing to read a character who was not looking for a partner in that sense. The relationships in the book are strong, nevertheless. There is a lot of magic, as has been the case with most of the books I've read in this genre, but the magic has freshness here, borrowing from the characters roots as an Apache. There were the inevitable vampires, but one of them provided a really unique moment in the book, in which the vampire attacks, and the Apache mother declares it to be unwelcome in her home, which in her case includes most of Texas. The vampire, unable to escape the ensuing curse, simply dissolves. Darcie Little Badger is an important voice, and leaves the door open to more novels.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I finished Darcie Little Badger’s ELATSOE last week, on the very same day I got and started reading it because I didn’t want to put it down. The story is set in an alternate, fantastical version of America that has been shaped by the magic, monsters, knowledge and legends of its people. Our protagonist, Elatsoe (or Ellie, as she is called throughout the book), for example, has the ability to raise the ghosts of the dead — a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. When he I finished Darcie Little Badger’s ELATSOE last week, on the very same day I got and started reading it because I didn’t want to put it down. The story is set in an alternate, fantastical version of America that has been shaped by the magic, monsters, knowledge and legends of its people. Our protagonist, Elatsoe (or Ellie, as she is called throughout the book), for example, has the ability to raise the ghosts of the dead — a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. When her cousin dies in a suspicious car accident and his ghost visits her dream to tell her that he was murdered (even naming his murderer!), Ellie decides that she must find out what truly happened. Together with Kirby, her precious ghost dog companion, as well as the support of her family, Ellie finds herself facing a centuries old secret along as she learns the depths of her abilities. . It is so much fun to read with so much to love. I love the way the author tells the story and how she interweaves the stories of Ellie’s ancestors in between, illustrating the importance of both history and storytelling within the Indigenous culture. I love the illustrations (by Rowena Cai) that accompanies it. I love how we have ghost pets and even freaking ghost mammoths. But most of all, I think what I love most about the story is that it fully embraces who Ellie is. She is ace, outrightly so and accepted without question or mockery. She gets thrown into challenging situations, but she doesn’t ever waver or doubt in her own abilities. She is a child who actually spends time with her parents and discusses with them before doing anything — something I always wish I see more of in YA fiction. She just feels so ... real. I wish I can hang out with her. So I guess what I want to say is that this book is incredible. It is beautiful and fun yet serious at the same time. And you need to pick it up ASAP so that you can fall in love with it, too.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Elatsoe did so many elements well that I'm not quite sure where to start. The characters were captivating, particularly the friendship between Ellie and Jay. I'm not always a huge magical realism fan but I really liked how Elatsoe did it -- from vampirism as a curse that's monitored by the government to Ellie's ability to summon ghosts. The world felt very similar to ours in a lot of ways, including the racism that Ellie experiences for being Lipan Apache. It took me a little bit to get into the Elatsoe did so many elements well that I'm not quite sure where to start. The characters were captivating, particularly the friendship between Ellie and Jay. I'm not always a huge magical realism fan but I really liked how Elatsoe did it -- from vampirism as a curse that's monitored by the government to Ellie's ability to summon ghosts. The world felt very similar to ours in a lot of ways, including the racism that Ellie experiences for being Lipan Apache. It took me a little bit to get into the story but once I did, I found Elatsoe hard to put down as I became desperate to know how things were going to play out. C/W:(view spoiler)[racism, murder, death of a pet, death of a loved one (hide spoiler)]

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynette Floyd

    Elatsoe is a beautiful book inside and out. Darcie Little Badger and Rovina Cai bring together such a beautiful, and also bittersweet, story that touches on so many topics. From grief and family, to how the impacts of colonialism and genocide are still being felt by Indigenous Americans, despite the world, and the United States, wanting to forget. I cannot recommend this book enough.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vee_Bookish // YA Book Blogger

    it's illustrated by rovina cai, that's all i need to know

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Honeycutt

    Strong characterization, immersive world-building, and an intensifying pace --overall, and confident and highly enjoyable debut. I would happily read an entire series about Ellie and her further adventures/investigations. (Bonus points for a confident ace heroine who is matter-of-factly supported by loved ones.)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Erica Sage

    I wanted to love this book so much. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, and I was even pondering possibly teaching it. I mean, it's got ghosts and monsters, Lipan Apache history and culture, and crimes to solve! And, it started out great -- lovely writing, pithy dialogue, and all the rest I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, it read very middle grade instead of young adult, and the pithy dialogue popped up in the midst of pivotal, tense scenes, taking away from the plot and tone. I still I wanted to love this book so much. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, and I was even pondering possibly teaching it. I mean, it's got ghosts and monsters, Lipan Apache history and culture, and crimes to solve! And, it started out great -- lovely writing, pithy dialogue, and all the rest I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, it read very middle grade instead of young adult, and the pithy dialogue popped up in the midst of pivotal, tense scenes, taking away from the plot and tone. I still LOVED the Lipan Apache aspect -- in fact, I enjoyed every time an elder shared a tradition or story -- but, as the characters went into detective mode, I felt like I was reading a Scooby Doo script. And then, the antagonist literally calls the main character and her sidekick, "meddling kids", just like in Scooby Doo. I was disappointed, and -- after reading other reviews -- I might be the only reader who felt this way. I finished the book, but... this needed a 12-year-old protagonist and a middle grade marketing campaign.

  27. 4 out of 5

    The Book Sheelf

    Full review to follow... but I couldn’t go to sleep without telling you that this book is perfection.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robin Mandell

    This book is fabulous!!! Definitely goes on my list of favorite reads for 2020.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elise - ABook&ACup

    4.5 I loved everything about this book!The world building ( our world, but with magical elements included in the daily life), the fact that it's an Ownvoices Indigenous and ace story, allowing us to discover Elatsoe, and her Lipan Apache family, the legends and powers passed down through generation, it was all so captivating. thank you to Darcy Little Badger to inviting us into this world! And there are ghosts and a very old and dark secret to solve, what else can you expect from the perfect Fall 4.5 I loved everything about this book!The world building ( our world, but with magical elements included in the daily life), the fact that it's an Ownvoices Indigenous and ace story, allowing us to discover Elatsoe, and her Lipan Apache family, the legends and powers passed down through generation, it was all so captivating. thank you to Darcy Little Badger to inviting us into this world! And there are ghosts and a very old and dark secret to solve, what else can you expect from the perfect Fall read?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    What a beautiful book. There's so much about history and about colonization and the way Indigenous people are treated. The world is so richly built and full of paranormal creatures and activity that are recognizable to most readers, but there's also a lot of Lipan Apache lore. Elatsoe has a wonderful, supportive family and builds up a fantastic friend group. The plot twists and turns. And there is ZERO romance!

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