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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book Review: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Age: 12+
Publication Date: April 2010
Tags: New Zealand mythology, adventure, romance
Pages: 352
Series: ?
Book Acquisition: ARC from Traveling ARC Tours

My Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

(from Goodreads)
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.

My Review:
This book wasn't like anything I've ever read. I love mythology but my knowledge of New Zealand myths is pretty much non existent.Guardian of the Dead is a story of seemingly normal teenagers - set against a rich cultural history - New Zealand folklore, set side by side a modern setting. This was such a wonderful read for me! There was so much going on and I pretty much loved it all.

If I had to pick my favorite aspect of this book it would have to be the main character, Ellie. She is very much a modern, normal girl. She's overweight, awkward, and unsure of herself  but she is also incredible brave and loyal. I found her to be a refreshing, realistic character. You can't help but want the best for her.

Although told from the 1st person, Healey manages to add to layer of mystery where we, as the reader, know more about what is happening to Ellie then she does. This layer really pulled me into the book very early on.

If I had to pick one thing I didn't like it would have to be the ending. As much as I loved the myth and folklore the conclusion was a little too much fantasy for my taste. I would have liked to have seen a more practical resolution.

With that said, I would still highly recommend this book to fans of YA action / romance / fantasy stories who are looking for a great mythology story.

Linkage Love:
Little Brown
Author's Website

*A sequel to Guardians of the Dead being written will most likely depend on demand (so says Karen on her website). I for one will be buying my own copy -- my little way of saying "Yes! More please!"


  1. Sounds like you connected with this book so much more than I did! I'm glad that you like it!

  2. Wonderful review! This book looks so cool.

  3. I'm reading this one right now--and loving it. There is a twist of underplayed humor throughout the book that I adore. And the style (yes this book's got STYLE!) is perfect.

  4. I really liked this book too! I didn't know that there was a possible sequel! I hope it happens!

  5. I really really must try this book. Great review.


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