Review Blog

May 03 2011

Guardian of the dead by Karen Healey

cover image

Allen and Unwin 2010. ISBN:978-1-74175-880-1
A fantastic first novel! Karen Healy has employed several classic concepts to create a work of pure fantasy. The story follows Ellie Spencer, an overweight year thirteen Mansfield College student who is completely 'normal' - or so it was until she ran into mystery boy Mark Nolan. Between falling in love and stressing about the coming exams something bigger is taking place around her and occupying her thoughts; the fate of New Zealand's North Island. Maori Faeries are plotting to regain their immortality from Hine-nui-tepō, the guardian of the dead. Enlisted in a war she didn't know existed, armed with nothing but her new found powers and a magical mask, does this ordinary girl stand a chance?
I have to say, The Guardian of the Dead is one of the most mythology- rich fantasy book I've read to this day. I confess I'm not familiar with Maori mythology but this book has inspired my interest in their legends. I loved how Greek and Maori legends were compared in this book if only in scraps. The comparisons are in perfect alignment with the plot. I highly recommend that any fantasy lover who has a thirst for legend join the characters in this dark adventure to save the North Island; just don't let the mask fool you!
Kayla Gaskell (Student, 15)

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