I received this e-book free from Edelweiss and Levine Querido in exchange for an honest review! All opinions expressed herein are my own unbiased impressions.
Elatsoe, or Ellie, is a Lipan Apache teenager that lives in an America that looks a lot like our own, except it’s been shaped by magic, monsters and myths. Ellie can raise animals from the dead, a skill passed down through generations of Lipan Apache women in her family, all the way back to her Six-Great. One of her best friends is her ghost dog, Kirby. The other is Jay, a Fae descended from Oberon, who can create balls of light and travel through fairy rings of mushrooms.
When Ellie’s cousin, Trevor, unexpectedly dies, he comes to Ellie in a prophetic dream, pleading with her to protect his family from his murderer, Abe Allerton. Ellie travels to Willowbee to stay with Trevor’s grieving wife and son. She quickly realizes that picture-perfect Willowbee harbors some dark secrets, including the truth behind Trevor’s murder and lauded town doctor, Abe Allerton. Ellie and her friends must work to rid her ancestral land of an ancient curse that will allow Trevor to rest in peace and his family to safely live their life in Willowbee.
I really loved this book! I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover art by Rovina Cai, but stayed for the great story-telling. In fact, the book stayed in my mind enough that I went back and upgraded my four star rating to five stars. I originally found it difficult to rate, in part, because I’ve never read anything like it.
I loved that the writer was Native American and several of her characters are. It’s such an under-represented voice in fiction that I can’t recall a single children’s book I’ve read in recent times that featured Native American characters.
I really loved the characterization in this book. Ellie and Jay, especially. I’m also not a huge fan of forced romances in YA and Middlegrade books, so it was refreshing to have an asexual character, who had a boy best friend and no mention of chemistry or romance between them. Ellie’s orientation was introduced very subtly, as just another part of her and not the ONLY part.
The fantasy in this book was immersive from the first scene of Ellie playing with her ghost dog, Kirby. The world-building wasn’t overwrought and more matter-of-fact and organic. It really felt like a real world, populated by real people.
Overall, I would really recommend this book. I think Middlegrade, YA and adult readers would enjoy it. And I think any asexual or Native American child or adult looking for a mirror will find it in Elatsoe.
Elatsoe comes out August 25th, 2020.
Do any of you have Elatsoe on your reading list? Or have you read it? Please link me to your favorite Native American books in the comments!
Until next time,