There are not many YA westerns out there, so when I first heard about this YA western fantasy, I was really excited! I love a good western setting and the characters they bring, and I was not disappointed with Elysium Girls!
Title: Elysium Girls
Author: Kate Pentecost
Release Date: April 14, 2020
Genres: YA Historical Fantasy
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In this sweeping Dust Bowl-inspired fantasy, a ten-year game between Life and Death pits the walled Oklahoma city of Elysium-including a girl gang of witches and a demon who longs for humanity-against the supernatural in order to judge mankind.
When Sal is named Successor to Mother Morevna, a powerful witch and leader of Elysium, she jumps at the chance to prove herself to the town. Ever since she was a kid, Sal has been plagued by false visions of rain, and though people think she’s a liar, she knows she’s a leader. Even the arrival of enigmatic outsider Asa-a human-obsessed demon in disguise-doesn’t shake her confidence in her ability. Until a terrible mistake results in both Sal and Asa’s exile into the Desert of Dust and Steel.
Face-to-face with a brutal, unforgiving landscape, Sal and Asa join a gang of girls headed by another Elysium exile-and young witch herself-Olivia Rosales. In order to atone for their mistake, they create a cavalry of magic powered, scrap metal horses to save Elysium from the coming apocalypse. But Sal, Asa, and Olivia must do more than simply tip the scales in Elysium’s favor-only by reinventing the rules can they beat the Life and Death at their own game.
- There is not much focus on romance in this book, but what’s there was just. SO. CUTE. I could not stop squealing over the cuteness of the romance.
- This book is so easy to read (at least it was for me). The prose wasn’t flowery, and the action was exciting and the whole book was just so FUN. It did not take me long to get through it.
- This is a PSA: Elysium Girls is a standalone fantasy book! Yup, there is no sequel! How awesome is that?
My favorite part of this book is how unique and fresh it is. It blends so many different components together that it felt like I was reading something totally new. For one thing, the genre blend of western and fantasy is definitely not something I’ve read! This book has magic, goddesses, daemons, and witches, but it I was never confused about the world building or the magic system. It was refreshingly simple and not overwrought.
And speaking of the world, this one is so interesting! The book is set in 1944, so not exactly your spaghetti-western time period, but the setting if Elysium, Oklahoma trapped in time because of a pair of gambling goddesses is just so fascinating. The added touches of steampunk, metal/magic horses was just the best thing ever.
You know what else was the best thing ever? The goshdarned plot! There were so many twists, so many reveals that I didn’t see coming! It was fast-paced and exciting with lots of action.
But my favorite thing about this book was the characters. The main character, Sal, is so uncertain and doubtful of herself at first, but watching her grow into her powers and seeing her grow in confidence was just so heartwarming. And Asa is THE BEST! He’s so funny and sweet, especially for a daemon. The other secondary characters such as Lucy and Olivia were all three-dimensional and so interesting to learn more about. The rest of the girls who make up the desert witchy girl gang are also wonderful. The sisterhood is strong in this book, and I am here for it!
Kate Pentecost is a new author to watch out for! Her debut is incredibly strong, and a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see what else she comes up with! If you’re looking for a standalone fantasy that is different from the norm, or you’re just looking for a wonderful fantasy book in general, you should definitely pick this book up!
“We’re star-crossed. Doomed to unrequited pining at most.”
“Humans do nothing but fight fate every day. Humans are the most blessed and most cursed of all creatures because humans can choose. Humans can change.”
About the Author
Kate Pentecost was born and raised on the Texas/Louisiana border, where ghosts and rural legends lurk in the pines and nothing is completely as it seems.
She holds an MFA in Writing for Children &Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She was recently nominated for a Rhysling award for her poem “Small Town Witches.”
Her debut novel, Elysium Girls, is forthcoming from Disney Hyperion in 2020 in print and audio formats.
She is obsessed with the Romantic Poets and can be identified by the enormous tattoo of Percy Bysshe Shelley on her arm. She lives in Houston (H-Town, Space City, etc.)