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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

Guardian of the Dead

Guardian of the Dead - It’s kind of uncommon for me to pick up a debut novel and immediately fall in love with the author. Especially as I tend to discover things a while after the debut. So, when I first heard about Guardian of the Dead, I was intrigued enough by the premise to pick up a copy.First off, I love mythology and folklore, and I really like books that tend to branch out from the Greco-Roman/Norse stories. While there are liberties taken with the Maori legends and folklore that make up the fabric of Guardian of the Dead, they’re still used extremely well. (There’s an afterward that notes where Healey took said liberties.) I love how creepy the patupaiarehe are, even the ones who just swarm and attack the heroes. I also love the idea that stories tend to shape how certain people see the world—by actually seeing the mythology involved all around them. It’s really such an interesting image when you realize that that’s what Ellie is really seeing.Despite not being fully detailed, I also really love the magic system that gets lovingly nudged at. It’s not completely described—at best there’s a rough explanation on how the magic works and who all can use it. But I like that there’s defined lines between the different types of magic. I also like that certain magicians have talents—it makes feel a little more plausible and doesn’t make the magic feel all mighty and powerful.So, on that note: our heroine. I freaking love Ellie. Granted a part of the reason I love her so much is that this book came out during the huge glut of paranormal YA novels and having a heroine who can actually take care of herself? I am all over that. Not to mention, she’s normal without being super-special normal. Can you honestly see Twilight starting off with Bella Swan waking up with a hangover with her platonic male best friend? I like that Ellie’s not perfect, that she fucks up and is a little prejudiced, and does take consequence for her actions. And she stands up for herself! I swear, some of my favorite scenes are when Ellie bitches at Mark for jerking her around. Just—she’s so awesome, I love her.Not so much in love with Mark. He is a welcome change from (again) ninety percent of YA romantic leads. I like that he’s complicated, in both his relationship with Ellie and his parents, and that he’s conflicted about who he really is. He’s a little too underdeveloped at times, but like with Ellie, he does come off as a real person. I’m really interested on how he and Ellie stand at the end of the book. There are three characters who get shafted, and by shafted, I mean, “Please please please write another story about them.” I love Kevin. Not only is he Ellie’s best friend; he could be anyone’s best friend. I would love to just kick it with him some afternoon. I love his personality, that he’s funny and joking, but is ready to defend any of his friends at a moment’s notice. (And points for not being gay or secretly in love with Ellie or vice versa.) My absolute favorite character, though, is Iris. Iris is on par with Ellie for being made of pure awesome. She might not kick ass like Ellie can, but she can hold her own in a fight with the patupaiarehe and is extremely smart. I love that when they’re attacked, and Mark starts trying to dance around the subject, Iris is all, “What? I’m a Classics major. Those were patupaiarehe. What the hell is going on?” I love that. She really just needed to be in the book way more. (Personal headcanon: I imagine that Iris and Aroha from The Shattering met up, became BFFs and started their own paranormal investigations agency. Because they’re awesome.) And La Gribaldi—I would have killed to have her as a teacher in school. She really doesn’t do much in the course of the book, but she’s awesome anytime she shows up. I really want to know more of her backstory. (And also, how she personally sees the world and the mythology involved.)While the plot does seem really herky-jerky at times, the different threads do come together and play into the plot. It does seem random at first to have the plot suddenly going from trying to save Kevin to stopping the patupaiarehe, but it works in beautifully. There’s one or two things that don’t really get explored all too much that I do think hurt the book a little. Ellie’s penchant for creating and awakening objects of power aren’t really fully explained, particularly the mask that comes into play. I do like that she struggles with using the mask and deals with the fallout her power has, but I wish her affinity could be explored more. The other plot thread that bothered me was Mr. Sand. He doesn’t really appear enough to feel like a threat, so his ‘defeat’ feels fitting. But there’s so much more to him that it appears, and I really wanted to know more about Mr. Sand .Despite the flaws, this really is a chilling and fantastic read. While there’s not much world-building, the story is well-told and engaging and the characters feel like realistic heroes that you just want to see make it out to the end. Highly recommend, go read it now. (And other usual fangirl ramblings.)