I picked this book at random from my library's digital media catalog when I was about to do some traveling, and I wanted to load a few things onto my Nook before I left. I did this with five or six books, and of them all, this was my favorite.
Ellie Spencer, seventeen, is attending boarding school, and things are going perfectly well - perfectly normally, until she has a chance encounter with a boy she's been secretly fascinated with but hasn't really talked to. Following that encounter, things are suddenly subtly different, and before long Ellie finds herself plunged into a new, scary world where beings from Maori mythology are all too real.
There were so many things I enjoyed about this book. The New Zealand setting was such a great backdrop for the story, and the way Healey has woven the strands of Maori legends through the novel gives it a lot more depth than I expected. I loved reading a YA fantasy story that wasn't rehashing the same old, same old themes and fantastical elements. Ellie is an engaging, sympathetic character, flawed but with her heart in the right place. This one would appeal to fans of Charles de Lint and Pamela Dean. I look forward to reading more of Healey's work.
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010)