Saturday, September 18, 2021

Review - Elatsoe (DNF)


by Darcie Little Badger
Date: 2020
Publisher: Levine Querido
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 368
Format: e-book
Source: Kobo

Imagine an America very similar to our own. It's got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream.

There are some differences. This America has 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.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

DNF @ 18%

This sounded like it would be good, but I didn't even read 1/5 of it and I just can't bring myself to open it back up (which is always a bad sign). While the writing is technically okay, there's a big mismatch between the characters' ages and how they're portrayed. Ellie is supposed to be 17, but she comes across as a tween and the book (what I read of it, anyway) reads more like middle grade than young adult.

I'm also not a fan of the way the fantasy elements are handled. I expected more Indigenous myths. Instead, I got a mishmash of myths with everything from ghosts and vampires to river creatures and European fairies. Which myths are Apache? Who knows? (I kind of wanted to.)

What I read of this book reminded me of Sarah Cannon's Oddity, a middle-grade novel with a similar setting that also throws everything but the kitchen sink at its readers in terms of supernatural creatures. (I didn't love that one either, but at least it didn't try to pass itself off as YA.)

Judging by the high overall rating of this book, it definitely has an audience. Unfortunately, I'm not it.

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