You know those books, that you start reading and kind of make you a little bit flaily from the start and you hope that the rest of the book lives up to the flail and then it does?
Yeah. Guardian of the Dead is definitely one of those books.
I can't put my finger on exactly what it was about Karen Healey's debut novel, but I clicked with it right away.
Main character Ellie is awesome - brave and funny and so very, very human, as she negotiates daily life as a boarding student at Mansfield College in Christchurch - a far cry from her home in Napier, but with her parents overseas, boarding school it is.
So far, so very normal ... until Ellie accidentally touches the charm bracelet worn by mysterious student, Mark.
Then all hell breaks loose.
Guardian of the Dead is the kind of New Zealand novel that I love - it's very, very Kiwi; while at the same time, it definitely has universal appeal. It's steeped in Maori myth and legend, which is fantastic, and it just ... I don't even know how to describe it properly. The whole book just works.
Anyway. It turns out that Mark is one of the last of a very long-lived race, who are trying to become immortal - by distracting Hine-nui-te-po - goddess of the underworld - with enough death that she forgets about them.
Mark - who has a human father - is determined to stop them, and although Ellie gets drawn into events by accident, it turns out she has latent powers of her own.
I seriously cannot adequately describe my love for Guardian of the Dead, and Ellie as a heroine.
The fusion of the modern world, and the Maori myths is amazing; all of the characters are sharply realised and it's incredibly easy to read. A+. Will definitely read again.
8/10 That movie that you've watched 100 times and you never get tired of