Guardian of the Dead

Guardian of the Dead

Book - 2010
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'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.' A gripping fantasy set on the shifting boundary between what is real and what is legend. Can Ellie discover a power she never knew she possessed? 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 essay deadline. Until everything changes... In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.
Publisher: Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2010.
Characteristics: 347 p.;,21 cm.


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ChristchurchLib Feb 17, 2021

Mostly set in a very real Christchurch, this suspenseful Fantasy successfully mixes teenage struggles with Māori legend and mythology. An excellent read for both adults and teens.

(New Zealand) Eighteen-year-old New Zealand boarding school student Ellie Spencer must use her rusty tae kwon do skills and new-found magic to try to stop a fairy-like race of creatures from Māori myth and legend that is plotting to kill millions of humans in order to regain their lost immortalit... Read More »

List - We <3 NZ
StaffPickles Aug 24, 2015

Alina's pick: Probably my newest favourite kiwi writer? Creepy fantasy set in Christchurch with lots of mythology stirred in.

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ChristchurchLib Feb 17, 2021

Mostly set in a very real Christchurch, this suspenseful Fantasy successfully mixes teenage struggles with Māori legend and mythology. An excellent read for both adults and teens.

Oct 21, 2017

I loved the story. It was really neat to see a geeky girl be the hero. However, it did seem to take way too long to get to the action, making it feel like an elongated short story. I picked it up hoping for a good work of fiction with an asexual character instead of a romantic sub-plot, however Kevin was relegated to the background as soon as his purpose in the plot was over. Despite this disappointment, and the slow plot, it was still a good story that I enjoyed reading.

UPDATE! If you are looking at this book for good Asexual representation, DO NOT READ IT! Even the author herself has realized this, and asked that it be removed from Ace reading lists. Source:

Feb 19, 2015

Karen Healey’s first novel feels pleasantly out of place on the American bookshelf. Hailing from New Zealand, Guardian of the Dead if rife with New Zealand Maori mystery and mythology. Boarding-school student Ellie Spencer is a girl any reader could identify with a crush on the brooding boy in school, a best friend who gets himself into trouble and a talent for seeing things she shouldn’t. What makes her unpredictable is her black belt in tae kwon do, a creepy mask and the ability to follow her decisions through. The novel keeps a fast pace racing towards an almost anti-climatic ending and readers could get tripped up a bit in the local language (though Healey does provide an explanation in the back) but an intriguing story makes up for any confusion. Part mystery, part myth and part romance Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead is a refreshing addition to YA fiction.

tuesdayswithlori Sep 08, 2013

I loved the way the Maori myth was con temporized and I found the characterization really unique, especially the male characters. However, I had a hard time relating to the characters at times and found myself skipping large sections and never needing to go back. Overall, I thought the plot was uneven.

lauhginglexia Aug 09, 2012

i love this book it held my intrest

josh1tbh Nov 08, 2011

The Book was putting me to sleep and it seem to hold on to things that are irrelevant.

Apr 27, 2011

I loved this book! Gripping storyline, great characters and really well-described setting (so familiar to all of us who live in Christchurch, and especially if you've spent any time in Riccarton/Deans Bush/university areas).
I also love the way that Maori myth and legend are so seamlessly incorporated into the modern setting and story.
A top read of 2010 for me!

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