Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
Length: 333 pages
Library Availability: 1 copy at Ramsey County Libraries; 1 book, 1 audiobook, 1 ebook, and 1 e-audiobook at Hennepin County; 1 copy at St. Paul Public Libraries.
Summary: 17-year-old Ellie Spencer lives a normal life at a New Zealand boarding school – at least, as normal as life can be with an eye-stealing serial killer on the loose. And when Ellie encounters an eyeless woman who nearly turns her into a tree, things get even less normal. Her crush, Mark, reveals that he is part patuapaiarehe – a magical being from Maori mythology. Soon, she and her best friend Kevin (who is asexual) are battling for their lives against a host of Maori gods and monsters – armed only with a black belt in tae kwon do and their own courage.
“The plot is rich and filled with twists and turns to keep even the most astute readers guessing…Filled with mythology, action, wit, and even some romance, Guardian of the Dead is a charmer that will not only leave you thinking, it will leave you with a smile on your face.” — Emma Carbone, New York Public Library
“Strong as the characters are, the depiction of Maori mythology is even stronger. It makes and shapes the book, a rich layering of history and mythic implication that draws you in and makes you care. As a stranger to this particular mythology, I found it both moving and gripping.” — Liz Bourke, Tor.com
Potential Discussion Questions:
As far as I have been able to tell, Karen Healey is a white author. Do the elements from Maori mythology seem to be done appropriately and well?
Would you describe this book as being in the same “paranormal romance” genre as books like Twilight? Why or why not?
Although asexual characters in fiction are rare enough, male asexual characters are even rarer. Why do you think that is? How is Kevin’s experience as an asexual boy different from an asexual girl?
Some readers are frustrated with certain aspects of Kevin’s portrayal as asexual, such as the lack of any mention of a romantic orientation. Do you consider Kevin to be accurate representation?
Various reviews describe Ellie as not being like a “typical” YA protagonist, mostly because she is not conventionally attractive and has a black belt in tae kwon do. Did you like her as a character?