The story takes place in America which although similar to how it currently is, monsters, vampires, fairies, and magic are the norm. The stories main character is seventeen year old Elatsoe aka Ellie who is of Lipan Apache descent. The origin of her name in my mind is just perfection. She is named “Elatsoe” after her ancestor Six-Great which means hummingbird.
Through her families bloodline and specifically the women in her family, Ellie has the abillity to raise ghosts from the dead in order. She like many of her ancestors gained this abillity once they are in their teens. Ellie has used her powers to raise her dog Kirby from the dead.
“Ellie could feel her consciousness brush countless others; they were ghosts in the underworld Below. She wondered if she could wake them all up.”
Rules do apply however when it comes to bringing back the souls of dead human beings. If returned they comeback much more aggressive and angry. Like missing puzzles of their former selves
Things are turned upside down for her Ellie and her family when her cousin Trevor dies as a result of a car crash. However, soon her cousin visits Ellie in a dream to tell her that his family needs protection and also the fact that he murdered by a man in Willowbee called Abe Allerton. Through Google, her best friend Jay uncovers that on the surface Abe appears to be a good charitable man who is well liked by the community, so the question is why would he kill her cousin Trevor.
Thus, along with her parents and her best friend Jay, Ellie sets off to Willowbee in order to find out what really happened to her cousin and the dark truth Abe Allerton has been hiding. Soon Ellie will uncover that there are dark forces waiting to fully erupt and an enemy of old that must be vanquished once and for all.
Elatsoe for me was an absolutely magical read right from the beginning. This was the first time I had read a book that focused on the Indigenous culture and its traditions. Much of these traditions play a key part in the life of Ellie and her family. Through out much of the story Ellie is taught many life lessons by parents regarding her indigenous bloodline which I found so so interesting and enlightening.
As a character I thought Ellie was brilliant. She was hilarious without even trying and I loved her self confidence. The other thing I felt Darcie does really well was to make Ellie feel like a 17 year old. The language and dialogue between Ellie and her family and friends at no point drifts towards Ellie coming across as older than she is. This for me allowed Ellie to feel more real.
“I hope you’re good at opening pickle jars,” Ellie said, as she started twisting one of the fasteners.
“I don’t like pickles.” He started working on another.
“Do you eat anything in a jar?”
“Oh, sure! Marmalade.”
“I hope you’re good at opening marmalade jars.”
I also loved the supporting characters of Jay who is Ellie’s best friend and her parents. Jay like Ellie adds a lot of humour to the story. Both of them are such goofballs. I loved how supportive of Ellie everyone was considering her dead cousin came to her dreams to tell her he had been murdered. At no point did Ellie’s mother or father get spooked or think she was lying. Instead they trusted her and throughout the whole story stayed by her side. You really feel the bond and trust Ellie has with her parents and she can always always count on them when she needs to discuss anything no matter how weird.
“You believe Allerton is a murderer?” Ellie asked.
“I . . . believe in you, Ellie, and your dream.”
“Thanks, Dad. I’ll try my best.”
Going back to the native culture of Ellie, I also enjoyed the stories Ellie’s parents would tell her about her Six Great Grandmother. The Six was well known among her peers for her power and her adventures.
“To her, Six-Great was immortal; the stories made her made her that way. They her personality through the generations”
Without spoiling, there was one story in particular about a strange creature in a sinkhole that I found really funny. Her grandmother even had a wooly Mammoth as a best friend! Who doesn’t want a wooly Mammoth as a best friend!
Finally in terms of the world building, I thought it was a really interesting and fun world. I enjoyed the inclusion of vampires, fairies, and paranormal elements. The paranormal elements made a lot more darker than I anticipated which worked well during those parts. There are also fairy portals which I found so cool!
“Simply put, fairy rings were portals powered by fae-realm magic and composed of fungi and flowers.”
Overall, this is definitely being added as one of my favourite reads this year! It was so refreshing and enlightening to read about the Native/Indigenous culture. It’s very much new to me but I would like to read more books by Native authors. This novel was enriched with native history and mythology. I also have high praise for the characters of Ellie her parents, and Jay. I loved their bond and it reminded me a lot of the bond I have with my parents.
I truly feel that this is a book everyone will love once they’ve read it. It’s not only a fun read but a fantastic learning experience.
Thank you so much to Levine Querido and the brilliant Alexandra for sending me an ebook copy. Also, shout out to Rovina Cai for again acing it with the beautiful illustrations! Never get tired of her artwork 😊