In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I’d been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I’d been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.
At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.
Karen Healey introduces a savvy and spirited heroine with a strong, fresh voice. Full of deliciously creepy details, this adventure is a deftly crafted story of Māori mythology, romance, betrayal, and war.
Obtained: ARC Tours
Genre: Young Adult
1. Guardian of the Dead
I read this book in about two days, for a number of different reasons. One, because I found the concept behind the novel to be fairly interesting. It's always nice being granted the opportunity to learn about different traditions and lifestyles, and I think that Healey did a good job of explaining in detail about these things. Two, because I didn't want to drag out a book I was only mildly interested in. And three, I wanted to finish this book before I went to BEA.
The story itself had way too much going on in its 300 or so pages (which is why I'm not including my story snippet because I don't know what to include). If Healey had made the first part--which primarily focused on the conflict with Reka--into a separate book, I feel that it would have been much more successful. At the rate I was going, I was tired by the time I got to page 100, so I can't imagine how teenagers and younger children would feel reading this. Those first 100 pages were jam-packed with plot, conflict, and a conclusion that I felt should have been the conclusion for the first book (in a possible series). I was extremely weary (mentally) when I moved on to Part 2.
In regards to Part 2, I think Healey went into a bit too much detail in regards to the background of some of these traditions and beliefs. While I appreciated this attention to the mythology, it detracted from my overall experience, successfully confusing me as opposed to making me appreciate the history along with the tale. For those who enjoyed the book, you can blame it on the fact that I'm completely oblivious to New Zealand's mythology if you want, but the integration of all the other tales was too much for me. It got to the point where I began to scan through multiple paragraphs describing about folklore.
I would suggest that if Healey was going to write the book with parts 1 and 2, she hone in on one tale, maybe two, and explore them further. I think if there was more of a focus on what Ellie saw (and limit what she saw) and how that made her feel, I might have felt less overwhelmed. Either that, or reveal all the myths like Healey did, but don't go into their story as much. Either way I feel like it doesn't give the tale absolute justice, but it's too much of an information dump. Jumping from one story to another, and then to another, while introducing all this back story about New Zealand's fae (which are nothing like our perceptions of the fae) was overwhelming (as you can see with my overuse of the word). Include this with the fact that I was mentally exhausted after the first part, and it became un-enjoyable at some points.
The love story in this book felt forced at times. It went from the main character, Ellie, being wary of her crush due to a number of certain factors, to her acknowledging that her feelings ran much deeper. The way she confronted him about it seemed out of place, and made me reread the entire scene over again in the fear that I had zoned out on a particularly important part.
Overall, I felt the book had potential, yet there was a bit too much going on for my tastes.