Title: Guardian of the Dead
Author: Karen Healey
Genre: YA, Supernatural, Romance
Perfect For: Those looking for a different mythology in their supernatural romance
Inspired by New Zealand myths, debut author Karen Healey has crafted a story packed with mythology, romance, action, and a bit of theatrics in "Guardian of the Dead". Ellie attends boarding school in New Zealand. When she unknowingly stumbles into her crush, the mysterious but not completely human Mark, he accidentally opens Ellie up to her own hidden powers. Not completely sure of what is going on, Ellie relies on Mark and quickly learns that myths and legends are all based in truth-- the good and the evil.
"Guardian of the Dead" proved to be a worthwhile read. The inspiration, New Zealand mythology, was a pleasant break from the current vampire and fallen angel trend in YA books. Let's start with the characters... While main character Ellie reminded me a bit of Dru (Strange Angels) and Rose (Vampire Academy), she still had an interesting voice. The fact that she has a 'girl power' attitude, yet still has body image problems should resonate with YA readers and bring them closer to the character. Mark is your typical male lead, mysterious and endearing enough that readers will fall in love with him instantly.
The story flowed nicely and the myths were explained in a way that read fun and not textbook. The story is unique and is sure to please readers who are tired of the same old 'vampire story' found on bookshelves today. I had trouble with the last fifty pages. I'm unsure why-- it might have been rushed or maybe the mythology had finally gotten the better of me. All I know is that the last bit didn't hold as much attention as the first 75% of the book.
With that said, I would recommend this book to YA readers, especially for those looking for something with a new, less predictable twist. "Guardian of the Dead" comes out April 2010 and is available to preorder online and at your local bookstore!