Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book #5: Aotearoa/New Zealand

Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey.

I could go on and on about awesome New Zealand-featuring books, but I’ll try not to. I might bore you. This one is set in Christchurch (yes, the city that had a 7.1 earthquake recently) and weaves Maori mythology into real life. I love the idea that the mythological world exists as it is in the minds of people, and as people’s ideas change, it changes too. And hot guys trying to hide their hotness are also good (goes with my love of awesome people in disguise).

Ellie literally stumbles across the magic world that exists beside our own when she stumbles into Mark Nolan. He’s the hot guy she’s had a crush on since she moved to Christchurch, and things become ever more mysterious from there. There are secret societies and chanting wars in the forest, and you never quite know who is on which side. Ellie’s magical problems worsen along with her normal problems, and I think the fact that she has to deal with ‘real world’ situations as well as fantastical situations makes the story all the more convincing, and draws you right in.

There’s something different about reading books about places you know, especially if they’re of the urban fantasy variety. It makes it all so much more immediate, and you find yourself looking around you and wondering. What if it really was real? What if there’s a patupaiarehe around the next corner? Obviously I’m a Kiwi (the person, not the bird or the fruit), and I love the Kiwi-ness of the language. Healey uses munter (heehee) and No. 8 wire and taonga, which is loosely translated as precious treasure/heirloom, as well as many other Maori words. I recognise the landscape and I’ve grown up with the myths. I think she does a great job of evoking the spirit and feeling of New Zealand.

A few other awesome books worthy of mention (that I can think of at the moment):
Halfmen Of O trilogy by Maurice Gee (there are bits in NZ...)
Dreamhunter duet by Elizabeth Knox (pseudo-nineteenth century NZ)
Because We Were the Travellers by Jack Lasenby (post-apocalyptic NZ)
I am not Esther by Fleur Beale (normal NZ, but scary...)
Lots of things by Margaret Mahy. I like Alchemy.

Goal of the week: reduce my use of the word ‘awesome’.

Any books set in New Zealand you like? And no, Lord of the Rings does not count.


  1. Wow, 80 YA books from 80 different countries?? That is just cool. I look forward to reading your reviews. Good luck with this. I'm actually going to blog about your blog, because I think it's a very interesting idea!

  2. Wow thank you! I think I may have been a little over-enthusiastic in my goal, but I'll see how far I get (-: I'm sure there are enough books out there, but the question is whether I can find and read them all...


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