Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey

Ellie Spencer is attending boarding school in New Zealand. Note to readers: this is not a “jolly school story.” Minimal shades of Enid Blyton. (heheheheh)

Ahem. Ellie isn’t what you’d call a social butterfly. Or outstanding in any discernible way, really. I mean yes, she has her black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but she hasn’t practiced in a year or more. She’s slumping along through school work in approved teenager fashion, and she’s worrying about the future and her body in a distracted fashion.

And that’s fine with her! Maybe not, y’know, great, (when is exile ever great?) but it’s perfectly fine. She has her best friend Kevin, and there’s a cute boy in school to obsess over from a safe distance.

Perfectly normal.

Until Kevin vanishes, the cute boy starts stalking her, and a freaky red-haired woman is showing up everywhere. Put this together with a serial killer who’s taking people’s eyes, and mysterious people making cryptic comments about her own power, and you have a recipe for a book that escalates fast.  Every time I thought things were going to find an equilibrium, the stakes went up again.

Now, I can’t exactly say I believed in the romance. (This is YA Paranormal! Of course there’s a romance!) I still have that lost-in-translation problem. But I did absolutely love how it panned out. It was just aesthetically delicious, to me at least. *hums happily* Oh man was that delicious. I just beam every time I think of that scene with Ellie and [Redacted] at [Redacted] after the [Redacted Redacted.] So [Redacted] lovely.

I have to give this five stars because there is no other way to describe it. The book was amazing. I cared, I was furious, I was grossed out, and I learned a lot about Maori culture. I didn’t agree with everything the characters said, or even the author said between the lines. But it was so relentlessly creative, I can’t help but call it amazing. Because it was. Amazing.

P.S. THE MASK ROCKS MY WORLD.

P.P.S. Geckoes are freaky. Poke them with sticks.


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