Author: Darcie Little Badger
Illustrator: Rovina Cai
Genre: YA Fantasy
Number of Pages: 362
Elatsoe is a fun and unique offering from first-time novelist Darcie Little Badger, following the adventures of a teenage girl who uses the spirit world to solve the case of her cousin’s murder. Ellie is a young Native American woman living in an alternate universe where magic and the supernatural are commonplace. Her family has a shared link to spirits and she is usually accompanied by the ghost of her deceased dog, Kirby. When Ellie’s cousin Trevor is suddenly killed in an apparent car accident, his ghost visits her in a dream and tells her to find his real killer.
Ellie knows that summoning human spirits means trouble, but she uses her connection to animal spirits to try and take down the powerful man who took Trevor’s life. Elatsoe has great world-building and Ellie’s casual asexuality is a nice departure from typical romance-obsessed YA books. Although I sometimes found that exposition bogged down the narrative and made it drag, I really enjoyed the turns the story took and Ellie and her friend Jay’s banter (I cannot stress how nice it is to have a boy and girl in a young adult book who are just friends, without him being a token GBF.)
Ellie had strong family relationships and I liked how supportive her mom and dad were and how they didn’t seem oblivious like most parents in YA fiction. This book also dealt with racism and the erasure of Native American identities while managing to avoid being heavy-handed. I’m not typically a fan of YA fantasy, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading the next book by this author.