“Elatsoe” by Darcie Little Badger – Review

By: Angie Haddock

Imagine an America very similar to our own… (but) this America has 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.


Our main character here is Ellie – real name Elatsoe – a seventeen year old living in Texas. Her best friends are Jay – human, male – and her dog, Kirby. Except Kirby died when Ellie was twelve, and he has been a ghost for the past five years.

The action starts after Ellie’s cousin Trevor dies in a car accident. He lives in a different part of the big state, and it’ll take a whole day of car travel for Ellie and her dad to get there… but Trevor appears to Ellie overnight and tells her that he was murdered, and she needs to protect his wife and baby. He even gives her the name of his murderer!

While supernatural occurrences are common in Ellie’s world, they don’t hold up well in court without proof. So, Ellie needs to find out what really happened the night of Trevor’s death. While she is traveling with her dad, Jay finds all he can online about the supposed murderer – a local doctor with a sterling reputation.

Ghosts aren’t the only beings in this story that we would consider supernatural. Jay’s future brother-in-law, Al, is a vampire, for example. Jay’s family is descended from fairies, and those with fae blood can still travel through fairy rings – although the rings are regulated by the government. (In fact, Jay and his sister travel to Ellie’s location – Willowbee – several times to help her!)

These kids’ lives are also permeated by legends of their ancestors. They talk of their abilities and heroic deeds often and openly, giving their ancestry an important part in their everyday lives.

The story is different for the world it creates, and for the fact that “whodunnit” isn’t the mystery. I found the whole book fascinating and fast-paced. I don’t want to give away too much of the ending, but there is definitely a big “final battle” that includes vampires, revelations, and one casualty that hit me right in the gut.

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