Thursday, April 15, 2010

guardian of the dead review

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?


  1. did you make the launch?
    i meant to, but something else came up:(

  2. no, i had to work. i would really like to hear her speak, i think she'll be a great writer to watch in future - a very interesting mind.

  3. Wow, that quotation is creepy. Not sure if it's more creepy for being taken out of context, but I'm getting flashbacks to all those Uni seminars on Freud.

    The Maori myth and legend is definitely attracting me to this one. Quite like the sound of the protagonist too.

  4. i talked to a genius friend of mine and he said this is a common image in a lot of mythology. jungian, he said. honestly, i wish i knew more stuff.

  5. Chaos Walking only days away!!! Very excited.

  6. I saw that you linked up for YA Community Thanksgiving Day @ Persnickety Snark, so I decided to stop by. You have a great blog here, and I just became a follower! :)

    This book sounds interesting, and I definitely like the Aussie cover more than the U.S. one. I totally cracked up at the quote you put at the end of the review. I don't know if you've ever seen the movie Teeth, but it reminded me of that. Vagina dentata anyone? Lol.

  7. thanks for following my blog! so nice of you. i've visited yours too!

    ha! "vagina dentata", yes, my friend said there was a latin name! i think i prefer "toothy vagina". it grabs people's attention for sure...

  8. what would you say the theme of the book is im having trouble figueing that out?? could you give me a page in the book that would show this also??


hey anonymousauruses - give yourselves a name. a nom de plume, a nom de blog. it's more fun that way.