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The Shattering: Book Review

September 14, 2011

The Shattering
Karen Healey
Little Brown (ARC received from publisher)
September 2011
314 pages

Karen Healey has done it again. I knew I was going to love this book, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. After all, Guardian of the Dead had been a great read: magic and myth woven into the present, with just the right amount of creepy adventure.

Keri likes to plan for every possibility, every emergency, constantly on her guard. But even the ever-prepared Keri couldn’t anticipate her brother’s suicide, a tragedy that devastated her and her family. When her childhood friend Janna tells her Jake’s death was murder, and linked to Janna’s brother’s apparent suicide as well, Keri wants to believe her. Even if that belief sends them probing into the secrets of their home town, and hints that something much bigger is at work.

Healey shifts perspectives across an ensemble cast of teenagers, giving each one a complex and unique voice. There’s Keri, still dealing with the aftermath of family tragedy, always vigilant, and maybe a little bossy. Janna is in a rock band (Vikings to the Left-I wish it were a real band so I could have a t-shirt), dyslexic and scornful of school- but there’s a vulnerability to her as well. Sione wrestles with being painfully shy, and awkward  but used to being alone. It’s interesting to see how working with the other two to solve the mystery brings him at least a little out of his shell.

I love some of the same things about The Shattering as I did about Guardian of the Dead. I love reading magic and mythology woven into a modern setting. Here, magic elements are tied to nature and the land, as well as drawn from Wiccan tradition. And Healey’s descriptions are gorgeous. Sione notices that Keri has a nice voice, soft and “sort of furry,” A sunset scene:

“the view, the green curve of the bay; the neat lines of white buildings all aglow in the dying light, the soft gray-white sand of the beach; and beyond, the shimmering, red-gold sea.”

Reading that, I believe, along with the characters, that Summerton is the most beautiful place in the world.

Supernatural elements, spells and other aspects (being vague, so as not to spoil) are also described with attentive detail. Set against a gorgeous backdrop, it’s a solidly suspenseful mystery, with supernatural spookiness added at just the right balance, I think.

This book thoroughly grabbed me into its world. You should read it.

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