30 August 2011

The Shattering; Karen Healey

The ShatteringThe Shattering by Karen Healey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an author to watch out for - her first book, Guardians of the Dead, a retelling of what I think were Maori myths (certainly no myths/stories that I'd grown up with) was a great read, and this one shows she's getting better at her craft.

Again the setting is New Zealand, so while there is some familiarity there's just enough difference from other white/native-or-minority books (I'm thinking of all the Hispanic characters I've met in books set in the American SouthWest/West). She doesn't belabor the relationships between Pacific Islanders, Maori and whites in this book, as the characters mingle well and the main tension is between Summertown residents and tourists.

Keri (and it's probably only me that will link that name to that of Keriwen, the "heroine" of The Bone People, one of my favorite novels, also set in New Zealand) is still in shock from her older brother's suicide when her former bff Janna suggests that perhaps it wasn't suicide but murder. Sceptical but hopeful, Keri agrees to meet with her and Sione to talk about this possibility (apparently Janna's older brother Schulyer's suicide started a pattern of one male per year killing himself, the link being age and that they were in Summertown for New Year's Eve). The three start to investigate and discover something's Not Quite Right with the town, and some of the townspeople. This is Nancy Drew mixed with Witches of Eastwick (or worse) time, but not in a way that will make the reader roll their eyes. While some of the reveals were obvious, there were enough surprises to bump this up to a five.

It's great that the author has provided information about suicide hotlines and a glossary of Maori and Samoan terms, but I would also have liked links to some of the mythology and rituals referenced here. Perhaps on her website?

ARC provided by publisher.

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