Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the latest in a series of debut novels I've read that have good points but are also flawed, which is only to be expected from a first novel. In this case, Lipan Apache author Darcie Little Badger spins an alternate history fantasy where magic, ghosts, faery rings and the afterlife co-exist with our technological civilization, and one of the characters is descended from the Fae King Oberon (and sports pointed ears as proof). This is familiar urban fantasy territory, but this book doesn't have the feel of classic urban fantasy. With its seventeen-year-old protagonist, Elatsoe Bride, it's firmly in the young adult camp. However, it lacks the usual teenage angst and typical YA focus on romance and love triangles (because Elatsoe, or Ellie as she's generally known, is asexual). Actually, this is refreshing, as Ellie is a relatable, down-to-earth protagonist, pragmatic and possessing a notable amount of good sense. This will stand her in good stead, as she is thrust into the middle of a murder mystery involving her cousin.
I thought this book started out a little unsure of itself, but the author's confidence in her story clearly grew as she went along. We learn a great deal about the Lipan Apache culture, and the stories-within-the-story of Ellie's six time great grandmother (unsurprisingly called Six-Great) were very interesting. With the focus on Ellie, her family, and the murder, the author really didn't have time to pull back and have a wider look at her world. If there's ever a sequel to this book--say, relating the story of Ellie's becoming a paranormal investigator, as she is talking about doing--I hope we get a chance to see this, as the few asides about the greater world left me wanting more.
This is an entertaining debut, and the author has plenty of room for improvement.
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