Apr 222024

School Library Journal: This prequel to Elatsoe features Ellie’s grandmother Shane, a 17-year-old Lipan Apache, and further expands upon the strange and unique world. Shane and her mother track down missing persons using ghost dogs (familiar to those who’ve read Elatsoe), even when the families can’t pay them. This means Shane is used to barely scraping by, her deep practicality almost at odds with her unique power to raise the dead. When her mother disappears after tangling with a fairy ring, Shane will journey across the south and the world Below to find her. The narrative emphasizes generational trauma and the power of community with flashbacks, finding ways to ground the fantastical worldbuilding elements of vampires, fae, and ghosts in the culture and relationships Shane finds important. Little Badger artfully navigates Shane’s family history—from disasters to stolen land—and how they fight to reclaim their identity. While the novel stands alone, common elements from the first book reappear to add humor and tension. Part road trip, part classic quest, this novel manages to add fresh and exciting elements to the worldbuilding while retaining Elatsoe’s slightly spooky atmosphere. The flashbacks and changes in point-of-view slightly hinder the pacing, but readers will likely be too invested in Shane’s story to care. Shane and her family are Lipan Apache, with additional diversity in the supporting cast.

VERDICT: A wonderful addition to the Elatsoe universe with vital representation, worthy of any YA collection. Highly recommended.