My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow, did I love this one. A girl and her ghost dog, Kirby? Yes please. Let me start with saying it's a delightful mash up of magic realism/paranormal, mystery, young adult and Indigenous culture. Taking that a step further here are all the YA tropes Elatsoe misses including which is one of the reasons it's so delightful. A) love triangles B) dead or oblivious parents allowing entitled kids to do whatever they want C) doing something dumb in order to put the protagonist in danger for the exciting action sequence at the end. Yep, none of that is in this story and it shines even brighter because of it.
In fact Ellie is asexual and her best friend Jay is very supportive of her (and with her orientation). She is (like the author) a Lipan Apache so her culture (and the racism against them) are a part of the story (though the racism aspect is there it is not used like a sledgehammer), Ellie's world is an alternative earth where supernatural beings like faeries and vampires are known entities and magic is seen as a bit of an environmental poison (neat) and Ellie's ability to call forth ghosts is learned vs magic. A big deal is made over animals ghosts being safe and human ghosts never are.
Ellie's beloved cousin, Trevor, has been killed and she knows he was murdered vs the official story. Her mother and her head to Willowbee, Texas to say goodbye and support his wife and newborn son. Also Ellie wants to unravel the mystery of who killed Trevor. With the help of Jay, Kirby and her mother, Ellie takes on the strangeness of Willowbee. Overlying this are the stories of Six-Great (as in grandmother) who had Ellie's abilities and has mythic hero status if you will.
I loved Ellie and Jay (and really all the characters). They are fun, sweet and intelligent. Ellie wants a dinosaur ghost (as if to make me love her more). She's brave (as is Jay) and like I said in the opening, she doesn't do anything rash or foolish that makes you roll your eyes and that's what gets her in trouble for the climax. No, it grows naturally and is believable.
My one fear, that the culprit who we know who it is (Columbo-style) would be shielded because of his wealth and that would be the end of his development weren't realized. His true shield is so much more interesting.
This works as a stand alone but there are a few threads at the end that say yes, we could see Ellie and Jay again. I welcome it.
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