Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Guardian of the DeadGuardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads: 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 take: I feel a little ill-equipped to write a review on the book. I read all of it and found the Maori legends interesting if not a little disturbing. I can say the same for Greek mythology, however, so there is no strike against the book on that one. Although written in plain English, the author is clearly from New Zealand (or maybe Australia?) but the language has its quirks. Like Americans might call a great car a "sweet ride" and someone who understands the language might look for a sugar coated car or roller coaster, I felt the same kind of confusion.

The author also uses Maori words which is uniformly accepted in New Zealand which would have confused me if not for the glossary at the back of the book. Use the glossary. Very useful.

I found the mythology/legends to be interesting and a solid backbone for the story. On the other hand, the dots didn't all connect for me. The mythology was interesting but I failed to understand why the fairy-type people were trying to steal magic by doing what they did and what that had to do with causing mass destruction. I also missed other segues probably due to cultural differences.  I would not dissuade anybody from reading the book, particularly if one is looking for a perspective on New Zealand history and legends. For me though, it just didn't take root.

Lanuage - abundant "f" bombs
Sex - Innuendo regarding the legends and the past
Dialogue - Huh? I'd like to hear from a New Zealand native.

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