I read Elatsoe pretty much so I could know whether to recommend it to a younger relative who likes YA fantasy. Here's my evaluation with that mindset:
This is a book for people who love dogs. It's got that vibe, where the dog characters are actually important and present and realistic. Yes, one of them is a ghost--still a dog! still for people who love dogs. It also feels very realistic to the teenagers I know who have grown up a little on the edges of mainstream (white supremacist) society. Being Lipan Apache is different than being a neurodiverse mixed race poor kid in a historically underserved side of town, yeah, especially when you add in magic and ghosts, but Elatsoe has a certain attitude about the world that feels very authentic and familiar to me.
The adventure is adventurous and the mystery is mysterious. For my relative I did worry that it might hit a little bit close to home, since wanting desperately to solve the murder of a close relative isn't necessarily something a teenager can do without magical powers. But what stuck with me from this book, and decided me on giving it as a gift, is the family relationships. Elatsoe has so many active relationships with friends and relatives; she is entangled in an ecosystem of humans and animals and ancestors. Honestly I came away wishing I felt as connected and supported.
I gave Elatsoe five stars on Goodreads, but realistically it's not a perfect book. Some of the writing is clunky and disorganized, and in parts it did feel a bit lightweight for a YA fantasy. BUT marginalized authors get downranked all the time by racists, so, I gave it an extra star for queer indigenous rep. And besides, it's a good read! It's fun! Great book to give as a present to a femme, nerdy teenager.