K. Bird's Reviews > Guardian of the Dead

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
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Oct 04, 11


Like another reviewer, I was reluctant to read this book because the cover and title were a bit off-putting.

However, I am glad I soldiered through. I gobbled up the story inside. Coming from someone who is easily bored, and who has read extensively in the YA Fantasy and Urban Fantasy genre, this book will keep your attention.

Ellie Spencer's parents are on an extended trip to celebrate her mother's recovery from cancer, leaving Ellie no choice but to change high schools to a boarding school on the South Island of New Zealand.

So not only does she have to make new friends, she has to do this while feeling unsure of herself and her changing body.

Luckily she has one friend, a gorgeous hunk named Kevin who has just confessed to being asexual, and who has shanghaied her into helping block fight scenes in the production of Midsummer's Night Dream he is currently working on.

Meanwhile, there is a serial killer loose who is killing seemingly random victims and taking their eyes, and Ellie has just gotten "noticed" by a handsome school loner, and she is starting to waken to a world of myths living right alongside ours.

Maori myths. Familiar, yet strange, to this Usian reader familiar with United States First Peoples' stories, the weaving of Maori legends, words, and culture into this is the strongest aspect of the story.

Ellie is great, too, and a completely believable, not all-powerfully attractive protagonist. Her relationship with the mysterious loner skims the line between romantic and believable in a great way. (I especially loved the "we can't touch eachother" because I have a tapu magic bag part, much more interesting than manufacturing ancient angst to explain why the hero and heroine can't come together)

The first part of the book where Ellie is at school figuring out the mysterious loner and dealing with friendships was definitely the best part of the book. Once she travels to the North Island and meets up with tons of mythological beings and gets wrapped up in Maui's fish hook and the Maori queen of the dead things became a bit fuzzier for me.

Still, I would totally read any subsequent book.

Don't be turned off by the cover, this is a great story.

This Book's Food Designation Rating: A plain-looking shortbread that when you put into your mouth melts in a golden pool of sweetness with a hint of exotic spice infused into the cookie.
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