Indigenous stories, modern-day technology, and the supernatural successfully blend to build a fast-paced murder mystery in Little Badger’s intriguing solo debut. After 17-year-old, asexual Ellie’s older cousin Trevor is fatally injured in an apparent car accident, he comes to her in a dream, identifying his killer and begging her to protect his family. Lipan Apache Ellie, named for her “heroic ancestor”—her maternal sixth-great-grandmother, Elatsoe, now known as “Six-Great”—has inherited from her the gift of waking and training ghosts, and sets out to reveal the accident as a crime and unmask the killer. Accompanied by her faithful sidekick, the ghost of her dead dog Kirby, her loyal friend, “white Celtic-and-Nordic-American” cheerleader Jay, and actively supported by her understanding parents, Ellie battles with ghosts, vampires, and exorcists in a series of suspenseful confrontations—including a descent into an underworld of trilobite fossils—that increase in intensity and eventually solidify her place in her strong maternal lineage of Native protectors. Cai’s grayscale spot illustrations imbue the book with shadowy breath and movement, bringing a lyrical undertone to the energetic plot and multifaceted, refreshing voice. Ages 12–up. Author’s agent: Michael Curry, Donald Maass Literary. (Aug.)
Correction: This review has been updated for accuracy.