I am so glad I finally caved to the Instagram pressure and buy this book! Not only that, but I also managed to read it the same year. I know that for some people that might not be a big deal, but it’s all relative eh?? And for me, someone whose books get lost on the shelf a lot, IT IS A LOT! Keep reading this book review to find out how I felt about Elatsoe!
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.
We love to see not only Indigenous stories, especially all over Bookstagram, but also asexual representation! That’s all you really had to do to hook me! What can I say? I’m a simple hearted human. In Elatsoe, she can talk and raise ghosts which, as a teen, would have terrified me, but now as an adult I find that so cool! One element I really enjoyed in Elatsoe was the narration. Not only is she clever and determined, but she is committed to keeping the stories alive in herself. There are stories within stories and it’s just a testament to keeping family alive through our past.
Even though the setting of Elatsoe is a contemporary setting, it feels only a degree removed from our own. Like a world in which all these stories about vampires and monsters are true. A world of racism, of prejudice, and privilege. But also with ghosts, the Fae, and magic. Throughout the book, Elatsoe must unravel the mystery. High stakes and full of action, Elatsoe is a book that will sweep you away.
Another element I enjoyed were the side characters. Elatsoe’s family made my heart warm. Not only are they supportive, but each of them, even if we only briefly see them, make such an impression. Elatsoe is a story where great magic comes at a cost and someone has to pay them. The layered complexity only unfolded as the pages turned. There are depths of conspiracies and builds built on sacrifice. The ending third of this book were so strong. It’s brimming with life and levity, but also with grief and danger.