Review Blog

Aug 02 2011

The Shattering by Karen Healey

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Allen and Unwin, 2011. ISBN 9781741758818.
(Age 13+) Recommended. I love a good mystery and when I read the blurb on the back of The Shattering I knew that I was going to read something different. Keri has a plan for what to do if a member of her family was murdered. 'It went:
1. Find the killer.
2. Make sure that they were guilty.
3. Destroy them. Completely.'

Keri's older has committed suicide and Keri is devastated. She just can't believe that Jake would do that. When Janna and rich boy Sione, who have also lost brothers through suicide, come up with a theory that young boys are being murdered she is all too ready to accept it. Together they start researching and a pattern that indicated foul play, begins to emerge. But what happens when they get too close to the truth?
The idyllic setting of Summerton, in the South Island of New Zealand, provides a beautiful but occasionally sinister background as Keri and her friends investigate the increasingly frightening events that unfold. Why does no one ever leave Summerton? How does it survive when other coastal towns face financial disaster?
Healey's first book, Guardian of the dead was a fantasy, but in this one, although she has some paranormal elements, including witchcraft, she concentrates very successfully on the murder mystery. Janna has dabbled in witchcraft, but the local coven wouldn't accept her. When she suggests that magic may play a part in the mystery, Keri is sceptical, but is willing to search out the truth.
An array of characters and descriptions of family life enrich this novel. Healey portrays a family almost coming apart from the stress of a suicide: Keri's mother is over-protective and can't bear to face Christmas. Keri copes by having a plan for every eventuality even though she knows objectively that that can't work. Sione has lived in the shadow of his brother and is struggling to emerge and Janna opts for a high profile to hide any inadequacies.
Woven throughout the mystery story are the themes of suicide, living in a sibling's shadow and grief. These and other teen issues are handled well by Healey who is certainly an author whose work I will continue to seek out. Links to information about suicide are given at the end.
It is recommended for teens who like mysteries with authentic characters and plenty of suspense.
Pat Pledger

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