Aug 202020

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.