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Review: The Shattering by Karen Healey

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
4 Stars: A Great Read
Hardcover: 311 Pages
Publication: September 5, 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Seventeen-year-old Keri likes to plan for every possibility. She knows what to do if you break an arm, or get caught in an earthquake or fire. But she wasn't prepared for her brother's suicide, and his death has left her shattered with grief. When her childhood friend Janna tells her it was murder, not suicide, Keri wants to believe her. After all, Janna's brother died under similar circumstances years ago, and Janna insists a visiting tourist, Sione, who also lost a brother to apparent suicide that year, has helped her find some answers.

As the three dig deeper, disturbing facts begin to pile up: one boy killed every year; all older brothers; all had spent New Year's Eve in the idyllic town of Summerton. But when their search for the serial killer takes an unexpected turn, suspicion is cast on those they trust the most.

As secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim? Or will they become victims themselves?

I really love Healey’s first novel Guardian of the Dead. Since reading The Shattering, I can officially call myself a fan of hers. Like Guardian of the Dead, The Shattering is a murder mystery with folklore and magic mixed in, and they both take place in New Zealand. This time, however, Healey presents us the mystery of supposed suicides rather than an immediately recognizable serial killing.

The Shattering starts off as a seemingly normal story—like with Guardian of the Dead—this time as one about grief and a girl coming to terms with the suicide of a beloved brother. The story is told from the perspectives of these three teenagers who have been brought together through their shared desire to piece together the truth behind their older brothers’ deaths… and to ultimately prove that their brothers were murdered.

Then Healey starts introducing elements of the murder mystery, and it becomes quickly apparent that there is more to the story. Healey is a master at plot, and it is definitely a big part of why of I love her writing. Her attention to detail and clever plot twists kept me enthralled with the story and consistently second guessing myself. It wasn’t until I reached the end of the novel, that I was one hundred percent sure of the story and how it would end.

The Shattering is a brilliantly crafted novel with a fresh setting (for me—Healey herself is a New Zealander). Those of you have who read and enjoyed Guardian of the Dead should definitely pick up The Shattering. If you haven’t and you end up enjoying The Shattering (if you haven’t already read it), then you should try picking up Healey’s first novel. Just keep in mind that both contain darker themes, more so in The Shattering what with references to suicide, racism, and bullying.

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An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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