So I’d heard about Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey and was intrigued enough to join an ARC tour so I could read it. Having read it a little while ago now, I’d describe it as a refreshing debut novel that probably stands out because it is set in New Zealand and thus the language/slang is similar to UK speak than books written by US authors.
So what is it about? Ellie leads a normal teenage life at boarding school where she hangs around with her best friend Kevin. She’s an average teenager with all the same hang ups and insecurities as the rest of us girls. She works for the school newspaper and her other main focus is crushing on the very mysterious Mark Nolan. Having never really spoken to him, one day she literally crashes into him and they strike up a friendship. Only every interaction with him leaves her with gaps in her memory followed by crippling headaches. Coincidence? And what does this have to do with the fact that a serial killer who takes the eyes of his victims is on the loose in New Zealand? Could the murderer be closer to home than everyone realises?
Guardian of the Dead is an original story with sprinklings of urban fantasy and lashings of Maori mythology and legends. I really enjoyed learning about the Maori culture and it’s what gave this book its uniqueness. There are a lot of things that haven’t been touched upon before in other YA books that I’ve read. Firstly the main character is not some skinny, beautiful girl - she’s a little overweight and racked with insecurities. Secondly, her best friend is a guy and he is asexual. Not an issue you see popping up in YA books on a regular basis.
I’m still having trouble deciding how I feel about this book. I definitely enjoyed it and it stayed with me for ages afterwards but towards the end I felt it got a bit fantastical and arguably slightly confusing. I do still feel that it’s worth reading though and I look forward to seeing more from Karen Healey.
Thank you to International Book Tours for letting me read Guardian of The Dead which was published in January, 2010. There is no news of upcoming books as of yet. You can visit Karen Healey’s website by clicking here. She is also on GoodReads and Twitter.