Guardian of the Dead
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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
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). New Zealand
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
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. New Zealand
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 love, love, love the way the climax of the book played out with Ellie and the goddess and the faerie. It is an incredibly interesting bit of mythology with the goddess and then how Ellie and her conversed at the end about being tired of being lied to. I also adored how Ellie invoked the legend of Orpheus to return Mark from the dead, it was inspired by her part and the author had made sure to make mention of Orpheus's story earlier in passing so that those who may not be familiar with it understood what would be going on.
At the same time, everything didn't happen perfectly, although it worked. Mark returned, but not in human form which was a really interesting touch and makes me put out hope for more books as it gives a problem for them that doesn't include angst, angst "Oh no I love you, but I don't want to love you, our love is wrong", though knowing most YA books it probably will anyway.
Ellie's magical powers are also pretty cool. I love the idea of the mask and I hope if there are more books that that comes into importance as well as I'd love to learn its origin.
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.