NPR: There’s a spooky warmth to Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger’s debut novel. Set in a version of our contemporary world where everyone knows ghosts, fairies, and vampires are real, Elatsoe, like its namesake protagonist, walks a zig-zagging line between humor and horror, braiding them into each other. Dead dogs make cheerful ghost companions while widows mourn young husbands; vampires propose marriage to fairy princesses while miracle-working doctors keep sinister secrets….This was deeply enjoyable from start to finish, with moments of shockingly clear insight and sharp knife-twists of plot. Ellie’s a great character, kind and keen, and her relationships with friends and parents are a pleasure to dwell in. It’s very moving to me to see a whole family pulling together as a dramatic unit, and I loved the place parents and grandparents occupy in the narrative, present as storytellers and stories both. The plot is smoothly woven through with folkloric stories of heroic ancestors, and the pattern they make together is beautiful.
It’s also very satisfying to see a lovely boy/girl friendship exist for its own sake: Ellie’s best friend next to Kirby is Jay, a descendent of Oberon who’s as supportive of her quest for justice as he is respectful of her asexuality. More mainstream narratives would treat a young woman’s disdain for marriage and sexuality as naïve immaturity in need of correction; Ellie’s identity is a matter-of-fact constant, affirmed by those who love her in a handful of grace notes chiming through the overall melodic line of the book….There’s so much love in Elatsoe, such deep grief held in the stronger arms of family and community. I’m so excited for all the young people who get to read this book and find themselves in it.