The Shattering makes magic seem natural

The Shattering by Karen Healey; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2011; 314 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  The book was published in September, 2011.

Three stories intertwine in Karen Healey’s novel set in New Zealand.  Keri is a Maori; she’s athletic, driven, and has a plan for every possible disaster that could happen in her life.  Janna’s a blonde bombshell; she’s the bass player in a band that’s going places, and that’s just want Janna wants, to get out of Summerton after graduation.  Sione (“See-OH-ney”) is the poor little rich boy; he’s a shy Pacific Islander that feels like he’s on the outside of everything around him.  The only thing the three have in common is the apparent suicides of their older brothers.  In fact, there is a suicide every New Year’s Eve in the tourist town of Summerton.  Together, they will unravel a frightening magical twist that affects their idyllic town and the lives of locals and tourists alike.

I could almost believe that magic is real, that it happens around us and we’re unaware of it, by the way Healey has incorporated it into the fabric of this story.  The Shattering read like a good old fashioned “who-dunnit” but with a supernatural twist.  There are cold-blooded killers on the loose who wreak havoc in the name of doing what’s right.  I like that the horror was balanced with realistic characters.  Her storytelling has made fantasy read like contemporary fiction.

I also liked that one of the main characters just happened to be a lesbian.  No big deal was made about that fact.  It was just a part of the character development as the ethnic backgrounds of the characters.

Admittedly, there were highs and lows in the book; sometimes I wanted to scream at the pages to reveal the story faster and at other times I had shivers at the horror involved.  Another issue was the point of view shifts.  Keri’s chapters were always in first person narration but Janna and Sione were always third person.  If readers are privy to Keri’s thoughts, why not the other two?  And if we knew what she’s thinking, she couldn’t know what the internal dialog was for the others, so why the shift?

You can find out more, including the author’s ideas for what happens to the characters after the story ends (SPOILER ALERT!), at the author’s site website: http://www.karenhealey.com/books/the-shattering/.

4P     3Q     Grade Level: 8-12

Cover Art: The ARC I was sent had a grayscale image of a face and the sea shattered like broken glass, with an orange, grey and white banner across it declaring the title.  I think it was very appealing to the target audience.  According to the author’s website, there are two covers since its publication (one is shown below).  I still prefer the orange to the purple; I think the orange appeals to both sexes while the purple makes this seem like chick lit.

From Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

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