Saturday, June 5, 2010

Review: Guardian of the Dead

Guardian of the Dead
By Karen Healey
Publication date: April 1, 2010


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:

The Guardian of the Dead is not quite like anything else that I've read. Ellie is a fantastic and flawed character.  She experiences insecurities, feeling that she does not fit in at her school and considering herself unattractive and fat. She may not be stick thin but she is a martial arts expert and she is very capable of defending herself. She is also smart and brave. Ellie has a good platonic friendship with Kevin, her one friend at school. I liked Kevin although I wish he had been present for more of the book. Partway through I felt like he disappeared. I understand in part why that needed to happen but I liked his character so I wanted to see more of him. Ellie's crush is Mark Nolan, a handsome guy with secrets. I liked Ellie and Mark's relationship although it didn't have much time to develop with all the action of the plot.

I didn't know anything about Māori mythology when I read this book but I enjoyed the stories that were mentioned. I thought the author did a good job of blending it in with the modern story. There are a number of mythical characters and creatures that are introduced but thankfully there is a glossary at the back of the book. The suspense element was well done with plenty of frightening moments. The mystery revolves around Reka, an unearthly beautiful woman who has her sights on Kevin, Mark's secrets, the gruesome Eyeslasher killings, and Māori myths. Reka was an interesting villain of sorts with complex motivations. The mask was a character in itself and one which I did not really like although it served a purpose. While I couldn't wait to find out what happened I felt a little let down with how the story was resolved in the end. I really liked Ellie but unfortunately at times I felt the development of the other characters was sacrificed for the sake of the suspense. I also wished that there was better explanation of the magical abilities of the characters. Still I enjoyed the book and the fact that it is something out of the ordinary.

I was sent an ARC of this book for review as part of a blog tour for Traveling ARC Tours. Please check out the other reviews for Guardian of the Dead.


  1. this sounds like a really interesting book. i'm going to have to check it out. thanks for the review! :)

  2. Wow really wonderful review Christina! I love books that are different, this one sounds awesome. I can't wait to read it :D

  3. I enjoyed this book also, but I felt the same as you did about the ending. I thought the mythology was really interesting also, it just had me confused at times. Great review!

  4. I enjoyed this book as well! Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

  5. I've seen this cover around soooo much!! Thank you for the informative review, so now I know what it's about!!


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