Elatsoe lives in an America where magic is real and the monsters and creatures of fairy tales and legends exist. As a member of the Lipan Apache nation, Elatsoe’s family has passed down to her the sacred ability of being able to summon and commune with animal spirits. When her cousin passes away in a mysterious car accident, Ellie is convinced it was actually murder. But the picture-perfect town of Willowbee has already dismissed the case, and now it’s up to Ellie and her friends to uncover the truth.
Title & Author: “Elatsoe” by Darcie Little Badger
Published By: Levine Querido
Availability: Released on August 25th, 2020
Page Count: 353 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Indigenous, Own Voices
Potential Triggers: References to murder, injury, and vehicular trauma; exploration of death in the family and pet death; allusions to genocide and kidnapping; some violence and assault
Notable Representation: Elatsoe is Lipan Apache and asexual
Elatsoe is a stunning debut novel that imagines a world where magic not only exists, but every kind of belief, tradition, and experience is normal. Whether someone is a vampire, a faerie, an asexual teenager, or a member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas who can interact with animal spirits, there is more than enough space for them to exist.
This is such a unique and engaging mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end. It’s like a rubix cube of a book where all the pieces keep moving and the more you twist it around, the more impossible it seems that all the rows will ever line up—and yet, incredibly, things do perfectly align.
It’s not just a mere “whodunnit,” but a story that has so much more at stake as it openly interrogates the entitlement many people assert over Native lands, traditions, and bodies. The mysterious death of Ellie’s cousin speaks to the violences committed against Indigenous communities that often go erased. But Ellie is determined to force the seemingly perfect town of Willowbee to confront and name the very violence that upholds their community.
Not only is Elatsoe a suspenseful and engaging mystery, but it’s imaginative and full of adventurous spirit. The structure of the book itself is a celebration of Indigenous storytelling. As Ellie and her friends gather intel, there are narrative detours that expand the reach of the story, and by the end, each and every one of those details comes back into play. Whether it’s a pit stop or a mention of the Waffle House, every detail is important and serves a purpose.
Elatsoe is a story that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it. I’m extremely excited to see all that Darcie Little Badger writes next!
Adri (they/them) is a queer, trans, and non-binary Mexican-American book reviewer. They’ve been creating BookTube content for over six years on perpetualpages and remain interested in creating content that celebrates and centers marginalized voices, intersectional viewpoints, and inclusive ideologies. When they’re not re-watching RWBY or Avatar: The Last Airbender, they can be found writing, laughing out loud while listening to podcasts in public, playing video games, and wearing geeky graphic tees to telegraph their interests to other people.