Congratulations to Darcie Little Badger! ELATSOE by Darcie Little Badger remains at #12 on the YA Indie Bestseller List for a second week!!
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.
Darcie Little Badger is an extraordinary debut talent in the world of speculative fiction. We have paired her with her artistic match, illustrator Rovina Cai. This is a book singular in feeling and beauty.
Bookpage: In an alternate Texas where major cities have Fairy Ring Transport Centers and the university offers an invasive monster program, Ellie, a Lipan Apache teenager, just wants to reincarnate prehistoric fossils and teach her ghost dog new tricks. Then her cousin visits her in a dream, says that a man named Abe Allerton murdered him and asks her to protect his family from further harm.
Together with her parents and her friend Jay, Ellie travels to Willowbee to uncover the truth about Abe Allerton, who by all external appearances has led a virtuous life. As Ellie gathers evidence, pieces together clues and retells the myth-tinged adventures of her six-generations-back great-grandmother, whom she calls Six-Great, it becomes clear that the cousin’s murder is part of a larger secret. With Willowbee’s bicentennial just days away, the time is right to vanquish a horror that’s preyed on Native people for far too long.
Darcie Little Badger’s Elatsoe is a clever mystery narrated by a teen whose voice radiates with wonderful self-confidence. Six-Great’s stories highlight the importance of storytelling in Ellie’s world, and observant readers will delight in the setting’s sociopolitical details: Same-sex marriage is unremarkable, as is Ellie’s asexuality, and the villain is marked in part by his environmentally unfriendly overuse of disposable eating utensils.
Like the self-published comics Ellie regularly devours, Elatsoe presents readers with a strong heroine, a supernatural mystery and a unique and powerful Native American voice.
School Library Journal: Elatsoe (Ellie) is a Lipan Apache teen who lives in Texas, where bizarre supernatural occurrences are the norm and people encounter magic, monsters, shape-shifters, and various supernatural events beyond reason. Ellie has inherited the spiritual skills of her people and has raised the ghost of her dog Kirby. A shimmering mass, Kirby is a loyal companion who alerts Ellie to danger and has the ability to move through walls. Ellie uses her supernatural abilities and keen observation skills to investigate the gruesome, suspicious death of her cousin Trevor. The story opens deceptively slow with abundant character introduction, but the turning point arrives when Ellie dreams about Trevor and he reveals the murderer’s identity. Ellie and her friend Jay visit a library to research the paranormal history of the Texas town where her cousin was killed. They discover that the blood of vulnerable people is a key to one doctor’s cures. In a time-bending web of travel between past, present, and the underworld, Ellie confronts the killer. The dramatic ending will engage readers, and is a worthy payoff.
VERDICT Ellie’s family’s cultural beliefs and status as Indigenous people are presented well in the context of this supernatural fantasy. Recommended for fans of the genre.
Booklist: Ellie Bride is an intelligent, determined, and asexual young Native woman with the ability to bring the dead back to life, as demonstrated through her stalwart companion, Kirby the poltergeist puppy. One rule remains unchanging, though: humans must never be brought back from the underworld. After Ellie’s beloved cousin dies and reveals the murderer to her in dreams, she must find a way to unravel the truth behind the eerie town of Willowbee, Texas, and work with her premonitions, her family, and her fae-descended best friend to keep everyone safe from a vengeful ghost. Little Badger’s stunning, haunting debut brings to the fantasy genre a fresh voice and perspective, weaving in folktales, omens, and urban legends of the protagonist’s Lipan Apache culture. Illuminated by Cai’s intricately beautiful chapter-opening illustrations and interspersed with Apache terminology and mythology, often presented through stories of Ellie’s namesake and ancestor, Six-Great, Little Badger’s fast-paced, spine-tingling mystery follows Ellie the aspiring PI (paranormal investigator) and her allies as they battle vampires, spirits, curses, and familial and personal grief to overcome an evil that threatens to end them all. Older readers raised on series like the Spiderwick Chronicles or Artemis Fowl will delight in Ellie’s tongue-in-cheek, self-assured voice, as well as her adventures with the mystical and magical elements that run through her lineage.
Publishers Weekly: Indigenous stories, modern-day technology, and the supernatural successfully blend to build a fast-paced murder mystery in Little Badger’s intriguing solo debut. After 17-year-old, asexual Ellie’s older cousin Trevor is fatally injured in an apparent car accident, he comes to her in a dream, identifying his killer and begging her to protect his family. Lipan Apache Ellie, named for her “heroic ancestor”—her maternal sixth-great-grandmother, Elatsoe, now known as “Six-Great”—has inherited from her the gift of waking and training ghosts, and sets out to reveal the accident as a crime and unmask the killer. Accompanied by her faithful sidekick, the ghost of her dead dog Kirby, her loyal friend, “white Celtic-and-Nordic-American” cheerleader Jay, and actively supported by her understanding parents, Ellie battles with ghosts, vampires, and exorcists in a series of suspenseful confrontations—including a descent into an underworld of trilobite fossils—that increase in intensity and eventually solidify her place in her strong maternal lineage of Native protectors. Cai’s grayscale spot illustrations imbue the book with shadowy breath and movement, bringing a lyrical undertone to the energetic plot and multifaceted, refreshing voice.
Kirkus: Aside from the fact that she owns a ghost dog named Kirby, Ellie is like any other comic book–loving, ice cream–eating Lipan Apache teenager. Her non-Native friends include her childhood buddy Jay, who is white, and her cousin Trevor’s Latinx wife, Lenore. Yet Ellie does have traits that set her apart: She has inherited the talents of Six-Great-Grandmother, her powerful Lipan Apache forebear, and plans to skip college to work as a paranormal investigator. When Trevor dies in what appears to be a car accident, his ghost appears to her briefly, begging that she protect his wife and child. Ellie must call upon her strong lineage to rid her ancestral land of an ancient curse. Even as she discovers some of her own tribal relatives have been complicit in historic wrongdoing, she must save her family, animals, and community from destructive forces and restore balance to the world. A fast-paced whodunit set in a contemporary world like our own, this is a creative fusion of Indigenous cultural influences and supernatural fantasy. A brilliant, engaging debut written by a talented author, it seamlessly blends cyberstalking with Vampire Citizen Centers and Lipan Apache stories. This groundbreaking introduction to the fantasy genre remains relevant to Native histories even as it imaginatively looks to the future.
Author of BENEATH THE RISING Premee Mohamed’s THE ANNUAL MIGRATION OF CLOUDS, a novella set in post-climate disaster Alberta, where a teen infected with a mysterious parasite must choose whether to pursue a rare opportunity far from home or stay and help rebuild her community, to Jennifer Albert at ECW Press, for publication in spring 2021, by Michael Curry.
Author of FOOD OF THE GODS Cassandra Khaw’s FINE PRINT, a horror novella set in Vampire: The Masquerade’s World of Darkness in which an arrogant tech bro learns the importance of reading the fine print in the contract for immortality, to David Pomerico at HarperVoyager for HarperAudio, by Michael Curry.