guardian of the dead - karen healey
set in modern day new zealand, guardian of the dead takes its reader on an imaginative thrill ride through maori legend and fantasy. the cover is great (this is the aussie cover, i have seen another with a big white mask on it, which didn't appeal to me nearly as much) but inside is a curious choice of font. it's in bold. bizarre, i know, and it makes the type seem large and almost childlike, belying the more adult content (or at least young adult).
healey spends a lot of time building her characters and their relationships, we get to know ellie very well before any of the action even begins (which is good) we also get to know kevin pretty well, and get to like him quite a lot; which is disappointing considering he actually doesn't get a lot of page-time later on. and i have to admit, i didn't love mark and i didn't really understand why ellie was so drawn to him.
it is so silly, one of my main grumbles seems so minor, and yet so stands out to me. so ellie receives a gashing blow to her back and her bra is all cut up. she then goes on to run and fight and next day she talks about being unable to put a bra on because her back hurts. this is fine. except there are lots of descriptions about ellie being a biggish girl and i think she would have found running bra-less a bit uncomfortable, to say the least. but she doesn't mention it, though does talk later in the book about how strange it was that 'mystical adventures seemed to involve a lot of minor aches and pains that didn't make it into the stories.' (p304)
i loved learning about maori creation myths and healey obviously knows lots more about this world she has created than ever made it to the page. perhaps she will reveal more in sequels? the dialogue was great and it is fabulous to see a clever and tough young woman out there defending herself.
slight reference to the end of the book below (shouldn't spoil the plot for anyone though)...
'there was another cave between her thighs, filled with a second set of obsidian teeth.'(p307)
while i am all for mythical beasts, metaphor and the fantastic...this toothy vagina really creeped me out. was i supposed to read this more figuratively?