Even though he passed over 80 years ago, H. P. Lovecraft maintains a visceral influence over a host of contemporary writers. Inspired by the Master of the Macabre’s more optimistic writings, this unique collection spotlights the weird works of nine current horror and fantasy authors, including the award-winning Michael Cisco and Livia Llewellyn plus Victor LaValle, Molly Tanzer, and Masahiko Inoue. Also includes Clark Ashton Smith’s 1931 “The City of the Singing Flame” and Lovecraft’s own “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” as well as an extensive Introduction by leading Lovecraftian scholar Nick Mamatas.
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.
Shelf Awareness: Darcie Little Badger’s creative and meticulously plotted YA debut, Elatsoe, is a supernatural murder mystery that takes place in a United States that has Fairy Ring Transportation Centers, endless fields of scarecrows with human eyes and a rich history of Lipan Apache ghost whisperers.
When Elatsoe’s ghost dog, Kirby, throws a fit, she knows something is very wrong. Turns out, Ellie’s cousin Trevor was in a fatal car accident. That night Ellie, whose “family secret” is the knowledge of how to bring back the dead, dreams of Trevor. “A man named Abe Allerton murdered me,” he tells Ellie. “Don’t let Abe hurt my family.” Ellie’s mother and father believe that Ellie is as powerful as her Six-Great-Grandmother who traveled Lipan Apache territory saving her people from undead evils, dangerous creatures and deadly settlers. Knowing the strength of his daughter’s gift, Ellie’s father agrees to help her investigate. With the assistance of her parents and her good friend and Lord Oberon descendant, Jay, Ellie takes a trip across Texas to find Abe Allerton and bring him to justice.
Little Badger excellently balances humor and horror in this inventive YA mystery/alternate history/fantasy. Ellie is a very likable protagonist whose Lipan heritage and ethnicity is not just twined with the story, but is the story: her gift comes from Six-Great; she’s vocal about the contemporary mistreatment of Indigenous people; and she has a pretty ingenious way of dispelling vampires. Each chapter begins with graceful, almost ethereal black-and-white illustrations by And the Ocean Was Our Sky artist Rovina Cai, adding to the evanescent vibe of the book, a Lipan Apache Sookie Stackhouse for the teen set. One hopes Ellie—and the wonderfully developed world in which she lives—will appear in many more books to come.
Locus and British Fantasy Award nominee Cassandra Khaw’s debut novel THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD, about a diverse team of former criminals who get back together to rescue a missing comrade and solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission while battling their own traumas and a universe of sapient AI ageships who want them dead, to Sarah Guan at Erewhon, by Michael Curry.
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.