Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Healey (Guardian of the Dead) delivers an intense and powerful novel that explores the effect of suicide on families by way of a magical conspiracy tale. In the small New Zealand tourist town of Summerton, 17-year-old Keri is contending with the unexplained suicide of her beloved older brother, Jake. When her childhood friend Janna-whose brother killed himself years earlier-tells her there might a reason for Jake's death, Keri slowly starts believing what she hears from Janna and a boy named Sione: once a year, a teenage boy visiting the village (or occasionally a native son) is compelled to kill himself. They discover that the killings might be connected to the town's history, and as they get closer to the truth, they are threatened by magic aimed directly at them and at their friends, and left uncertain whom to trust. Juggling multiple viewpoints, Healey skillfully keeps her characters on an emotional roller-coaster even as they deal with physical threats. The climax delivers a gut punch that only underscores the sensitivity of the subject matter (without lessening the thrill at all). Ages 12-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-After her brother, Jake, commits suicide, 17-year-old Keri has a hard time coming to terms with his death. Jenna, a friend from Keri's past, and Sione Felice, Janna's tourist friend, come to her with a theory that both their older brothers and Jake were actually murdered. As they investigate the theory, secrets, a conspiracy involving trusted and well-known people in their New Zealand community, and dark magic make the trio realize that time is running out to save another boy's life. With no one to trust and danger lurking around every corner, the trio sets out to solve the mystery in Karen Healey's novel (Little, Brown, 2011). The well-developed plot and the characters are brought to life through Saskia Maarleveld's narration. Although the voices sound similar, her use of unique intonations and narrative styles for each character make it fairly easy to tell them apart. Her narrative speed and transitions hold listeners' interest and cue plot twists and suspenseful moments. Fans of paranormal mysteries and witches will enjoy this audiobook.-Kira Moody, Whitmore Public Library, Salt Lake City, UT (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This mysterious, resonant novel centers on 17-year-old Keri, whose main character trait is an almost obsessive need to be prepared for anything. But nothing can steel her for the suicide of her adored older brother, Jake. Healey creates startling images early and keeps them coming for example, Keri thinks of herself after her brother's death as a girl-shaped open sore, walking through a world made up of salt and lemon juice. When her best friend, who also lost an older brother under similar circumstances, tells her that she suspects both boys were murdered, Keri's grief shifts shape into an all-consuming need to know. They find another grief-stricken ally, and the trio's investigation is filled with close calls as they discover that other boys, all who had visited this deadly New Zealand resort town, are being killed at the rate of one per year. In the afterword to this memorable mystery, Healey speaks directly to teens considering suicide and to LGBTQ teens in particular, the most likely group to commit suicide. A glossary of Maori and Samoan words is also appended.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
The town of Summerton follows many happy traditions, but one is awful: each year a boy who spends New Year's Eve there will kill himself. Is this a tragic coincidence or is a serial killer on the loose? Told in the distinct voices of three friends, the story is a complex and well-wrought tale of suspense, grief, and possibly dark magic. Glos. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
A motley crew of teens band together to catch a serial killer and break the perverse spell that keeps their New Zealand resort town so idyllic.The older brothers of Summerton's residents and vacationers are killing themselvesone boy each yearand prepared-for-anything Keri, sexy would-be rocker Janna and dreamy, insecure Sione, who've all lost their older brothers, figure it's no coincidence. Working the case with a tenacity and creativity that would do Sam Spade proud, the three discover that otherwise-trustworthy adults are members of a coven using dark magic to force a teen boy to kill himself each year. The suicides are a sacrifice, renewing a protective spell the coven placed on Summerton to protect it from the economic hardships that have befallen neighboring resort towns. The stakes escalate when they discover that the coven has chosen a Japanese tourist very much taken with Janna to be the next victim, putting the young detective team in a race against time. A teen noir hinging on the discovery of witchcraft could easily fall into self-conscious cutesiness or collapse under the weight of its own self-seriousness, but Healey (Guardian of the Dead, 2010) seamlessly integrates noir and fantasy tropes to explore issues of suicide, trust, sexuality, race, insecurity and free will in a way that feels fresh.Less a whodunit than a "how do we stop it!?", this fantasy-steeped mystery should appeal to fans of Franny Billingsley's Chime (2011) and Holly Black's Curse Workers series. (Paranormal suspense. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.