A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{February 3, 2012}   The Shattering by Karen Healey

Plot: Keri, Janna and Sione have one thing in common: their elder brothers committed suicide without any explanation. They begin to suspect that their brothers were murdered and that they weren’t the only victims. But their search for the serial killer casts suspicion on trusted members of the community and forces them to consider forces far beyond the ordinary. Will they be able to protect the next victim and avoid becoming victims themselves?

I loved Healey’s first book, Guardian of the Dead, (indeed love might not be strong enough a word) and almost immediately ran out to buy this one. I was not disappointed. It is a very different story but it shares many of the things that I loved about her debut: complex characters faced with powerful, dangerous forces in a world woven with myth and magic. And again she has filled her book with characters of colour and characters who are not traditionally feminine or masculine. Besides I continue to think that Healey and I are on the same wave length: the book is full of observations and jokes that made me go “I’ve always thought that!” I’d say I feel like we could be friends if that didn’t sound a little stalkerish… But on to the review!

The Shattering is told from the POV of its three main characters, each with a unique voice. The three are very different: Janna is a flirty rock goddess who feels insecure about her intelligence, Keri is sporty and slightly neurotic (she needs to plan for every possible situation, however unlikely, to feel at ease), and Sione is a shy, brainy boy who loves nice clothes and is terrified that no one will ever love him. They’re great characters and they are wonderful together… which made certain events later in the book painful to read but I won’t spoil it for you. The romance in the book might disappoint fans of great fated love affairs but personally I found the various relationships really sweet and realistic (though I did occasionally feel bad for Sione and his puppy loves). And, ok, this will be a weird thing to say but I think Patrick is the best ex-boyfriend ever; I want him to be my fictional ex-boyfriend. He respects Janna, stands up for her, is nice to her and expects nothing in return (except that she be a kick-ass bassist).

Healey’s first book dealt mainly with Maori mythology. This one is more about neo-pagan myths and beliefs, which is also interesting but hits closer to home. I am Wiccan and when a book, especially a fantasy book, deals with modern paganism I can’t help but brace myself. The portrayal is not always negative but it’s often a caricature or becomes indistinguishable from fantasy magic. But though there are both good and bad people practicing magic in Healey’s book, I felt that her approach was very respectful. Better yet, magic in her book works without being a grand supernatural thing: no lightning shooting from fingers or what not, only will and symbols. And her exploration of the myth of the Summer King is really deserving of its own post.

But more than magic or romance, this novel is about suicide and the ways it affects those left behind. The characters’ relationships with their brothers were different: Keri and Jake were close enough to tell each other all their secrets but Matthew barely tolerated Sione. Still they share a feeling of loss and a need to know why. Why their brothers left them and why they, with all their faults, were the ones to survive. These question are what drive them to seek a murderer, to find a kind of closure through revenge or justice. I like that Healey doesn’t let it end that simply, however, but again I don’t want to give anything away. Go read it, you won’t regret it.

I have yet to find any news of Karen Healey’s next book but you can trust that I will buy and read it the moment it comes out, whatever it might be about. She has a lifelong fan in me.

2012 (#14)


[…] diverse YA fiction that really speaks to me. You can read my ravings about Guardian of the Dead and The Shattering. So naturally, I was very excited about her new novel and I started it as soon as I could get my […]

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