Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey - Book Review #31

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Guardian of the Dead
by Karen Healey

In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I’d been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I’d been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.

At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.

Karen Healey introduces a savvy and spirited heroine with a strong, fresh voice. Full of deliciously creepy details, this adventure is a deftly crafted story of Māori mythology, romance, betrayal, and war.

I was really excited to read this book, because by its description it sounded like a good suspense novel. Unfortunately, the suspense part only lasted until the middle of the book, when all the Māori legends reviled and explained. From that point the book just become messy and … well, I have to say it – disgusting. When I found out what patupaiarehe has to do to achieve immortality… well, that was too much for me. Also the scene when Mark introduces his grandfather to Ellie was quite nauseating as well. Maybe the reason for my disgust as that I wasn’t really into Māori and their mythology, maybe I’m just ignorant and the New Zealand culture was too much for me, either way, I really had to push myself to finish this novel after the first half. So synopsis turned out to be quite misleading, at least I expected something completely different from this book.

I have to agree that despite all of that the idea for the book is quite original. At least, I never read anything that involved New Zealand legends. I also have to admit that it was exceptionally well written. Additionally I admire Karen Healey for all fundamental research that she performed to write this book.

Therefore, probably this book isn’t bad at all. It seems like it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I would recommend this book to anyone who is tired from same old same paranormal themes in YA books, for someone who is looking for something new. But beware you will be stepping into the unknown, partially disturbing, sometimes shocking Māori world.


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