Guardian of the Dead

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.

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 paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.

Debut author Karen Healey introduces a savvy and spirited heroine with a strong, fresh voice. Full of deliciously creepy details, this unique, incredible adventure is a deftly crafted story of Māori mythology, romance, betrayal, and war.

STARRED REVIEW: [T]he weirdness and excitement increase exponentially. … This story starts off fast and strong and just builds from there. – School Library Journal

STARRED REVIEW: [E]nticing and utterly unique. This captivating tale will have readers hiding under the covers with a trusty flashlight until they finish the last fascinating and heartfelt page. – VOYA

Fast-paced adventure and an unfamiliar, frightening enemy set a new scene for teen urban fantasy. – Kirkus Reviews

“Smart, hilarious, and wholly unique. Healey makes juxtaposing totally modern characters with numinous and ancient magic look effortless.” – Holly Black (the Modern Faerie series, The Spiderwick Chronicles)

“It’s been a long time since a debut novel grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Quite simply, GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD is my favorite kind of read—creepy, funny, sexy, smart, and sometimes just downright, pull-the-covers-up-to-your-neck-and-pray-for-morning frightening. This book completely rocked my socks.” – Libba Bray (A Great And Terrible Beauty)

GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD is published by Little, Brown in North America, and Allen & Unwin in Australia and New Zealand.

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  • Sammy

    Guardian of the Dead sounds so completely awesome, and I can’t wait to get it, but I was just wondering if it is going to be a stand-alone novel, or the first of a series?
    Also, I saw what you said about the Demon’s Lexicon and have to add that it was tied for my all time favorite book of 2009, and that I once-upon-a-time got to meet the author and she is packed full of even more awesomeness than you would think possible.
    Anyway, can’t wait to read about Ellie when she finally gets here (and hopefully sequels with Ellie, too)! 😀

  • Karen

    Guardian of the Dead is currently a stand-alone, but there are sequel possibilities – it’s not a world I’m eager to leave!

  • Karen,

    I just got in my copy of School Library Journal and Guardian of the Dead got a starred review! Congratulations!

  • Kira

    Dear Karen,

    I met you at the book signing in Phoenix and you are such a lovely lovely woman. Very inspiring. 🙂 So I went home and read the story you recommended about cooking on your website. I couldn’t stop smiling. Super cute! After I finished with that, I began to read Guardians of the Dead. Just finished. I’m at a loss for words. Your writing is so spellbinding. You’re a true story teller. Ahh, I LOVED LOVED LOVED the book. So much. Words simply can’t describe. Thank you for writing such an amazing and wonderful(and insert great adjective here) book. I’m going to recommend it to all my friends – EVERYONE should read this book. 🙂

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. 🙂

  • Zoe

    i am right in the middle of you book, Guardian of the Dead,and so far i am LOVING it. beleive it or not Iris is my fave character so far. 🙂

  • Zoe

    1 More thing if you find the time you should come for a book signing in… Saskatoon, SK Canada! 🙂

  • Julia

    Karen, I just read Guardian of the dead, which i must add i read in less than a day, because i couldnt put it down. I really hope you make a sequel

  • Karen

    Hi Zoe,

    Iris is my favourite too!

  • Catherine


    I’m about half way through Guardian of the Dead, and I must say I am immensely enjoying it so far. It typed it into google on a whim and was directed to this site. Can I just say that it is fantastic? Because so far, it really is. I keep saying so far, but I have faith that it will remain that way all the way through. I now have a burning desire to look up a lot of this stuff and am intensely curious about it all. Thanks for giving me a new distraction! 😀

  • Steph

    Hi Karen,

    I just finished reading Guardian of the Dead and I’m so upset that its over!! I read it in less than day. I seriously could not put it down, it was so good. You need to write a sequel!!! I’m way too in love with these characters for the story to be over!

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Karen,
    I just finish Guardian of the Dead and must admit that I was slightly ambivalent going in but am so thrilled that I took the leap. The world you’ve created is so rich and vibrant, and the story so immersing, it’s hard to pull away from the page. Your characters are wonderful, living, breathing creatures whom I’ve grown to adore and who will undoubtedly stay with for an immeasurable amount of time. I was saddened to read on your site that this may, in fact, be the end of their journey. I will continue to hope that is not the case and that their story will be allowed greater breadth. Knowing where Ellie, Mark, Kevin and Iris all end up would be a thrill. Until then, I will keep my fingers crossed and look forward to The Shattering. And let Little, Brown know we want more of Guardian.
    All the Best.

  • Karen

    Thanks, Elizabeth! I’d love to write more in the Guardian world, but it depends on a number of factors – few of them in my control, or even in Little, Brown’s. By far the biggest factor in whether a stand-alone gets a sequel is in how well it sells, so it’s really up to readers!

  • brittany

    you should defenatly make this into a sequel. i love ellie and mark and im not sure if there guna be together and stuff. and i dont know i feel like it was a ciff hanger and i lusting to know more!!!!!!

  • Karen

    Hi Brittany,

    I’d love to write a sequel, but it’s really not up to me. Reader sales is what makes sequels happen!

  • tiamara lopez

    I recently bought your book not knowing exactly it was about and was up for the challange.
    I just finished it, I was at the edge of my seat while reading this masterpiece i loved it and would wish there was more! Ellie come back to me!!!!

  • Emerald Isle

    Hi Karen,
    I am bereft now that I’ve finished Guardian of the Dead. It’s simply a beautiful book. Please, give us more! Mark and Reke are wonderful characters, I’ll certainly miss them all.