*No Major Spoilers*
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.
I have been discovering a lot of interesting books on TikTok, and this is another one of them. I saw this book on Arriane’s TikTok and I loved the setting and premise. So let’s cast a spell and reveal the truth of Elysium Girls.
I don’t read many books that take place in Oklahoma, and I love seeing that representation. I love how this happens during the Dust Bowl, and how we learn in the story that the rest of the world is in the middle of WWII. So being stuck in the era of the Dust Bowl and having to play to these goddesses games is interesting.
I love the characters, Sal I found to be relatable. She had her reputation torn to shreds because of no one supported her prediction of the drought ending. Even Mother Morevna shaming her and joining the rest of the town in shaming Sal was despicable to me.
Mother Morevna reminded me of the grandmother from Encanto, Abuela Alma Madrigal. Both are strong, magical women who have faced traumatic pasts and are handling things to what they think is the best way to do things, but actually aren’t.
I enjoyed getting to know the other characters such as Olivia, and the other friends they make while in exile. Although, of the new friend group, I can’t tell you who is who because of how quickly we’re introduced to the girl gang. However, that is a small complaint I have with the characters.
The ending was okay. It didn’t go the way I thought it was going to go, which is good. However, I’m feeling undecided on if I liked the way the story wrapped up. It was a solid ending overall. However I feel like I can’t delve more into it without going into spoilers and that’s no fun!
So overall, I really liked Elysium Girls. I loved the main characters, and how real the setting felt. This has small elements of steampunk, and the romance is natural and not forced into the plot. I would highly recommend if you enjoy magical realism, books that take place in Oklahoma, and historical fiction.