An innovative urban fantasy steeped in Maori lore from a talented debut author
Karen Healey is a New Zealander living in Australia. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. She's writing a dissertation on the fan culture of American superhero comics, but her real expertise lies in discerning which of the Birds of Prey is objectively the most awesome (it's a tie between Oracle and the Huntress).
Ellie Spencer is attending boarding school in Christchurch while her parents travel around the world. Her straightforward life revolves around school, her best friend Kevin, and assisting with a drama production, until a strange run-in with her enigmatic classmate Mark opens her eyes to a dark and dangerous world. The old stories, it seems, are true: something potentially life-threatening is waiting in the mists, with designs on Ellie and her friends. Guardian of the Dead, an original and exciting dark fantasy, is the debut novel from Karen Healey. Healey deftly draws on the rich Maori mythology of her native New Zealand to create an exotic and engaging world. Ellie is a fantastic central character, both strong and vulnerable, as well as smart and funny. Her supporting cast--human and otherwise--is well-rounded and convincing. Healy captures a sense of place very well, and her evocative descriptions of the New Zealand landscape add to the strong atmosphere of the book. The story itself is scary and fast-paced with high stakes and many twists. Suited to teenage readers for language and some situations, this book is enthusiastically recommended. Heath Graham is a teacher and occasional bookseller at A&R Greensborough