Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Review: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Guardian of the Dead

Karen Healey

Publication Date: April 1st 2010

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 333

Genre:  Thriller, Mythological, Young Adult

"You're Ellie Spencer."

I opened my mouth, just as he added, "And your eyes are opening."
Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend Kevin, she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy, and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of serial killings that all share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing. Then a beautiful yet eerie woman enters Ellie's circle of friends and develops an unhealthy fascination with Kevin, and a crazed old man grabs Ellie in a public square and shoves a tattered Bible into her hands, exclaiming, "You need it. It will save your soul." Soon, Ellie finds herself plunged into a haunting world of vengeful fairies, Maori mythology, romance, betrayal, and an epic battle for immortality.

From the title and synopsis, I thought that Guardian of the Dead was going to be a horror/thriller novel, however, that was far from what it ended up being. I was instead led on an incredible journey through Maori legends of New Zealand. The style and way the mythology was dealt with in the book reminded me strongly of O.R. Melling's The Book of Dreams (my all time favourite faerie book).

Healey has created a world filled with mythology of all the world, but focusing on Maori legends due to the fact that it takes place in New Zealand. It includes faeries, but of the Maori sort, which are similar to the popular take on faeries nowadays (amazingly beautiful, tempting but dangerous). There is also a promise underneath it, however, that in the feature if this world is explored more Greek and Roman myth may play a much bigger role.

As for the characters, I really liked Healey's take on many of them. They were varied and pretty complex, even many of the side characters. One thing that I was very impressed with is the inclusion of an asexual character which is not a well known sexual preference and I loved how it was dealt with but not made out to be a big deal by the characters. I also loved that it actually pertained to the plot since the Maori faerie was trying to seduce him and that kind of doesn't work that way.

There was no instalove in the book as well so points for that. Ellie of course had had a crush for forever on Mark, but he hadn't really even noticed her before they bumped into each other and his feelings developed rather than happened instantly. They also started with like before jumping straight to love.

I recommend this book to people who love Young Adult Paranormal books that use mythology from various cultures instead of clear cut popular tales. I also recommend it if you like O.R. Melling, as Healey's style reminded me of hers.



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