Wednesday, February 17, 2021

YA Review: Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (CYBILS finalist)

Title: Elatsoe

Author: Darcie Little Badger

Year Published: 2020

Category: YA fiction (speculative)
Pages: 368
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map)USA (WA)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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.

Review: This book was a finalist for the CYBILS Awards so I read it as a round 2 judge.

I really like the cover of this one, which I thought was snow at first, but upon a closer look, I can see is wolves/dogs. I was also looking forward to reading a book by a Native American author (she is an enrolled member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas) with characters from the same tribe.

I like Elatsoe. She is smart, interesting, has good friends and is close to her family, all aspects that work for me. And, yes, she can bring dead animals back. Lots of the characters in this book have some sort of magical power so it's kinda cool that death, life, ancestors, and current family all combine and play an equally important role.

I was doing well with all of this (it stretches me out of my comfort zone), but I started to disconnect a bit in the last third of the book when we learn that there are also vampires and ghosts. I can't say too much because it will ruin the story, but for me, it became a lot. Perhaps too much. 

But, if you are someone who likes speculative fiction this book is going to be a huge hit. It is really well done and I'm only giving it a 4 because it isn't my favorite.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Alphabet Soup--"L"
  • Diversity--Indigenous author and characters
  • Literary Escapes--Texas
  • Popsugar--book with magical realism

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