Friday, September 9, 2011

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Title: Guardian of the Dead
Author: Karen Healey
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Acquired: Received free for an honest review
Age Group: Young Adult
Grade: 84% or B
Buy It: Amazon

This is an intriguing YA urban fantasy in the tradition of Holly Black and Wicked Lovely. Set in New Zealand, Ellie's main concerns at her boarding school are hanging out with her best friend Kevin, her crush on the mysterious Mark, and her paper deadline. That is, until a mysterious older woman seems to set her sights on Kevin, who is Maori, and has more than just romantic plans for him. In an effort to save him, Ellie is thrown into the world of Maori lore, and eventually finds herself in an all-out war with mist dwelling Maori fairy people called the patupaiarehe who need human lives to gain immortality.

The strong, fresh voice of the narrator will pull readers in, along with all the deliciously scary details: the serial killer who removes victim's eyes; the mysterious crazy bum who forces a Bible on Ellie telling her she needs it; handsome, mysterious Mark who steals the Bible from her and then casts a forgetting charm on her. All of this culminates in a unique, incredible adventure steeped with mythology, Maori fairies, monsters, betrayal, and an epic battle.

My Thoughts::
This was one of those books that I read the summary of a while ago, and by the time I got around to reading it, I had a whole other idea of what the book was going to be about. I always resist the temptation to read the back of a book right before reading the actual book, which leads the this situation more than I would like.

For people who buy books based only off of titles and covers, you were horrible mislead. Oh, you thought this book was of the paranormal variety? Wrong. This was the misconception that I had. Fortunately, this worked out for the better because the Maori lore is much more interesting. I've read books about fairies before, but this takes it up to another level, because you find out that these things that seem so strange, are actual tales that people talk about, and sometimes believe in. So for Ellie to find out that these stories are true is incredible.

Ellie and Mark are just the best. Ellie has some faults, and often gets down on herself about them, but not to the point where she's annoying or complains too much. She is very relatable and likeable. She changed throughout the novel, but not to some drastic point, just in the way of confidence and self worth mostly. Mark didn't make me swoon, but he was pretty adorable. He wasn't incredibly clever, but he was sweet and did his best to care for Ellie.

The entire novel was like a history lesson of the Maori people. So even when there wasn't any action going on, I was still entertained. Throughout the book the enemy of us readers changes as the story goes on. I found this really clever and exhilarating.

Overall I thought Guardian of the Dead was a really interesting and one of a kind read. I would recommend it to those in love with any kind of lore, or someone who wants to read a book based out of New Zealand.

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