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Guardian of the Dead
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Guardian of the Dead

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  2,435 ratings  ·  467 reviews
"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
Hardcover, 333 pages
Published April 2010 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2010)
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There is a lot to love about Guardian of the Dead. Here's the shortlist:

- a smart, kind of nerdy heroine
- the freedom/restrictions of boarding school
- use and explanation of Maori myth (by a white author who has the balls to point out in the text the colonial nature, possible inaccuracies, and just plain wrongness of Maori myth written down by white people)
- high school use of a university library, because serious shizz calls for serious research
- patupaiarehe (fairy-type creatures), on
Guardian of the Dead is a unique YA novel that takes place in New Zealand and involves Māori (indigenous New Zealand) myths. I wanted to love this novel so much, and almost did. Unfortunately, it suffered from a severe case of literary ADD. Did it want to be a coming of age novel? Māori folktale? Urban fantasy adventure? Love story? Of course, it can be all of this and more, but when one aspect of this story picked up, the others would suffer.

Guardian of the Dead begins with seventeen year old
I was lucky enough to read this book in manuscript form. It's funny, intense, magical, dark, and scary - an urban fantasy for teens in a New Zealand setting so vividly and perfectly described that I honestly felt I was there, even though I've never been to New Zealand in my life. I love the distinctively different magic in this novel, and the emotionally truthful relationships among the characters. I can't wait to read many more novels by Karen Healey!
When you have as many TBR books as I do, it's hard to keep track of what came from where. If I had to guess, I'd say I got this book off a list of good LGBTQ young adult, or possibly a friend recced it due to the presence of an asexual character. The book isn't worth it just for that -- nothing is worth it just for checking a diversity box -- but it is worth it.

It's a lively bit of fantasy about a girl at a boarding school who -- you think you can fill in the rest of this one, and you can in br
I didn't really know what I expected when I got this book, not really familiar with any New Zealand myths, so I was pleasantly surprised how good this book really was.

Karen Healey weaves an interesting plot that mixes myths, mythology and mystery that makes Guardian of the Dead a very unique take for this particular paranormal element. The writing draws you in, leading you into the drama but with a leashed pace.
The characters were written really well and I connected with all of them right away.
Eleanor (Ellie) Spencer is attending a boarding school in New Zealand in lieu of her last year at high school. Her parents have left on vacation to celebrate her mother's miraculous recovery from cancer, and they have left Ellie in the prestigious yet dreary Mansfield College. Things are shaken up a bit when her best friend, Kevin, becomes attracted to an ambiguous woman even though he has always claimed to be asexual. And later on Elie finds herself falling for the mysterious Mark Nolan, a youn ...more
If you enjoy reading about mythology, magic, supernatural beings, and learning about new cultures and folklores of other countries, and in this case New Zealand's, this is your cup of tea. And if you like reading about strong heroines and young adult romance, then you definitely need to grab this book.

The book is about Ellie, a teen attending a boarding school in New Zealand. In her obsession with a mysterious guy in school, Ellie finds herself with potential magical abilities and becomes invol
Diane Ferbrache
Ellie is just getting over the shock of her mother's cancer when she is sent to a boarding school on the south island of New Zealand. There she makes a couple of good friends, excels in her classes (especially Classics), finds herself strangely attracted to a young man, and encounters a woman who seems to have a strang power over her. Ellie's odd misgivings about the woman prove to be true when Ellie learns her true nature.

This is a mystery/adventure novel deeply influenced by Maori legends and
◕ ◡ ◕  Arooj
When I first heard about this book it sounded so interesting that I added it on my list right away. However, the synopsis I read a before failed to mention one thing that the synopsis on the book mentioned: fairies. I am not a big fan of faeries and am very picky when choosing fairy based books but I still decided to give Guardian of the Dead a try. Sadly I was dissapointed.

At first it sounded pretty interesting, even though I kept getting distracted and not wanting to read, but I tried to focus
I give it 5 stars, because it was original, interesting and FINALLY not about vampires, werewolves, fairies and the lot. Although, the character DID attend a boarding school...yeesh. A main female character who wasn't a 125 lb. smart/cute/AP Class taking, SAT ace, doesn't know she's beautiful, has hot guys vying for her hand....Yeah, I mean you Bella, Nora, Bianca, etc..... If I gave it stars based how how much I liked it, or how I felt after reading the last page...2 stars.

Boarding school is s
Feb 05, 2011 Camilla rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
This was quite a story. The beginning was full of loose ends that left you questioning what was happening and what the characters were hiding, but as the story progressed everything in the mystery was revealed and all the loose ends tied up, leaving you shocked at what the story had become. The beginning leaves you thinking that this is just another teen novel where a girl becomes interested in a mysterious guy, but it was so, so, so incredibly far from that, it left me dumbfounded as I read. He ...more
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Guardian of the Dead is a good book that benefits from having an excellent narrator and audiobook. The story itself has a lot going for it--mythology, New Zealand, a smart doesn't-take-shit from anyone heroine. But at times, the writing drags the story down. It liked to use clever turns of phrases like "I ate till my stomach touched my jeans" which FYI doesn't make sense, and overused adverbs in dialogue tags. Clumsily writing that detracts from an interesting tale.

Fortunately the story itself i
MissHavoc {Cry Havoc! Reviews}
Review: I really wanted to like this book, but I was really just confused the whole time. I must say that Ellie, the protagonist, was very believable and really likable. She seemed like a real person. Other than that though, I didn't really understand what was happening in the story. It probably is because I'm an ignorant American and the author and characters are from New Zealand, including the lingo and story-telling style. The characters are all based on Maori legends, which is part of New Ze ...more
Original Review HERE

First Impressions:

Ana: Wow. WOW . I could not be more in love with this novel . The writing, the characters, the mythologies, the ideas behind the plotting and characterisation, everything is just as I like and hope whenever I open a book. I knew I was reading something different and unique even, when the heroine beats the shit out of the “hero” so that she can protect her best friend. Superb, just superb and I can hardly believe this is a debut work.

Thea: What Ana said. Seri
I love stories about stories, especially ones that explore what stories mean to us and why they’re important. Greek legends, Shakespeare, Māori creation myths and superhero comics all get a look-in in Guardian of the Dead, and they twist and combine in strange ways that reflect the way Ellie experiences them – contradictory but complementary, opposite truths that blend together rather than diminishing each other.

Māori legends form the basis for much of the (twisty and exciting) plot, and I came
Steph Su
While certainly different from most speculative YA fiction out there, GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD did not give me the connectivity that I always require from an enjoyable reading experience. For me, it was an ambitious debut novel that was successful in the details of YA originality but missed most of the larger essentials of storytelling.

The things I appreciated about this book were mostly, sadly, superficial, at least when it comes to my criteria for liking a book. I appreciated that Ellie did not ha
You know what's awesome? Finally reading a book that stacks up to its hype. Guardian of the Dead might have had its hype rush last year, but I do remember it and boy, does the book live up to it and how.

This is the book I wanted Wildefire to be. I wanted it to combine mythology that a lot of the world still isn't aware of and the distinctive cultural aspects of the main characters while giving them a cohesive togetherness. New Zealand is a diverse place, like America, and Healey doesn't shy away
May 27, 2010 K rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: library
The first 150 or so pages of the book don’t really hint at it, but this turns into a pretty cool story.

The book begins with Ellie’s mundane school days in New Zealand. Her best and only friend is Kevin and it’s soon established that there’s zero romantic interest. Hallelujah! There’re some boringly repetitive references to her negative body image (which is later amusing when Ellie proclaims that self-hate is a real turn off)—but I appreciate that she’s described realistically. This first half se
The story is steeped in New Zealand myth and explores how the stories and myths we believe shape our lives and world.

After a horrible battle with cancer her mother survives and Ellie's parents celebrate with a long worldwide trip. (Interesting twist, eh? The parents are not killed off, they live! and go on a glorious trip- I like it)

Ellie, on the other hand, celebrates by going to a boarding school on the Southern Island of New Zealand, there she is best friends with Kevin (the georgeousest boy
This edition of the book suffers from a terrible case of cover fail - it's completely unappealing and does nothing to invite its intended audience (or ANY audience) to read it. I put off opening it for many months simply because it looked terrible. The font, the art and the design do nothing to make the book appeal, and that's a major disappointment, because it's a great story inside that terrible cover. Utilising local mythology, Healey writes engaging and interesting characters into an excitin ...more
I am so impressed with this book. It's a fantastic story, and it's responsible storytelling as well.

It's interesting, creepy, and resolved in a way that leaves everything changed. The story revolves around (mostly) New Zealand mythology, and how stories change the world. And consent, what is and is not consent, and what that means for the story of a life.

I really like the main character Ellie, and I liked that she has a wonderful best friend who knows what's what and looks out for her - especi
Healey uses a really unique twist on the paranormal genre. The setting and primary mythology for the paranormal elements in this adventure are from New Zealand. But there's also a delicious postmodernism here. Somehow, everyone's mythologies are what is true for them, and there are fabulous scenes of characters making choices based on deciding which mythologies to believe for now.
This is all underlying a boarding school romp, some complex female relationships, the requisite teen romance(s), an
Lori (Pure Imagination)
Mar 29, 2010 Lori (Pure Imagination) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lori (Pure Imagination) by:
Shelves: arc-for-review
Ellie is attending boarding school while her parents travel the world. Everything is just like always. Hanging out with her best friend. Drinking in her room. But when she literally runs into her crush, her life is about to be turned on it's head.

Guardian of the Dead is completely original. The premise and mythology is something I have never seen before in YA fiction. Karen Healey did a fantastic job of bringing these myths and stories to life in our world. And while I really enjoyed this book t
I would say this is more like 3.5 stars, and in reality if I wasn't confused with the folklore it probably have been 4.

Ellie is a 17 year old heroin that is NOT all perfect pretty, perfect smart, perfect frail, like we see in so many other YA stories today.Yes all your pretty, flawless in all your skinny 100 pound glory, heroin's I'm talking about you! lol Ellie is always the guys friend, and never their girlfriend. She is the girl you sneak into her dorm room with when your not quite done drink
This is the second William C. Morris YA Debut Award Nominees that I have read recently and I loved loved both of them. Guardian of the Dead is a smart, adventerous, book with a witty repartee. I love New Zealand, mythology and folklore, and strong female characters so this book is a perfect fit for my likes and interests. In this tale, the main character, Ellie is in a boarding school near Christchurch, New Zealand. Her parents are on an extended trip because her mother has recently recovered fr ...more
I was so terribly excited to read this book. Guardian of the Dead was near the top of my wishlist for tenner books, sadly it did not live up to my expectations.

Karen Healey takes us where few authors published in America have gone, to New Zealand. Going in I had absolutely no idea what to expect of how she was going to incorporate such a new environment in an interesting fashion without being overbearing. Healey crafts together a realm of fantasy amidst the beauty of the island that, surprisingl
Daisy Chain Books

Wow! This book was like a breath of fresh air for me. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before, and I really enjoyed it. I read a lot of young adult urban fantasy, and while for the most part I really enjoy this genre, I feel that sometimes the characters and the settings can become a little formulaic. Not in this book, though! Karen Healey has created a unique story here. The setting is New Zealand, and the theme, Maori myths and legends. As an added bonus, you have Ellie Spencer to guide you on y
Apr 25, 2011 kari rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011, ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Guardian of the Dead is incredibly original. Is the first time that I have read about New Zealand myths and now, thanks to Karen Healey, I have learned a lot! The main character, Ellie, is very funny and sooooo great when she does her tae-kwon-do to defend herself. The main male character, Mark, is the perfect character for a teen book (dark, mysteriously, and obviously cute), but my personal opinion is that her best friend, Kevin, is so much more funny.
I think the author had a brilliant pre
I really did like this book at first. Being the nerd that I am, I decided early on that I would give this book three, maybe even four, stars on Goodreads because the characters were fresh and the premise was intriguing. Sadly, that thought didn't last for very long.

First off, there was way too much complicated terminology. I'm pretty sure most people who pick up a book like this aren't well-versed in New Zealand folklore. I didn't understand what was going on half the time, even though the autho
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Good debut novel? 3 24 Jul 04, 2012 11:55PM  
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Karen Healey writes books about tough girls with brains and interesting boys with secrets. She likes nail art, superheroes, and musical soundtracks. She technically lives in New Zealand, but really lives on the Internet.
More about Karen Healey...
When We Wake (When We Wake, #1) The Shattering While We Run (When We Wake, #2) Teen Movie Times The Unicorn Bell

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“Stories change us; they change the world. People are stories of themselves.” 38 likes
“Stories change us. They change the world. People are stories of themselves.” 7 likes
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