Monday, October 28, 2013

A hypnotic spell that takes us to ancient Hawaii

Toby Neal (MAKAWAO, HI, US) -

Press in to really "get" this book. Wai-nani’ s story is told in a hypnotic, fairy-tale or high legend voice that took me a chapter or two to get into--but once I did, I was fascinated with the way Linda Ballou had taken us into the intimate and unknown world of the Hawaiian people through the eyes of an unforgettable heroine. Wai-nani is fierce, passionate, and deeply connected to the land and ocean--and to her complex and multi-faceted warrior husband. It reminded me how fully developed the civilization of the Hawaiian people was, and how large their population, before the fateful arrival of "Kapena Kuke" and his "floating heiau." 

Thanks for this journey to another time and a Hawaii seen through a princess of its people

That Toby Neal author of the Lei Crime series set in Hawaiian Islands, who grew up on Kauai and presently resides in up-country Maui fell under Wai-nani’s spell, makes my heart sing. In my poetic rendering of the people of old I mimicked the rhythm of the meles and legends handed down through a centuries old oral tradition. Hula was a form of mediation to bring more mana,or spiritual power into your world. Inbreeding among royals kept the bloodline of the chiefs clean. The love affair between Kamehameha the Great and Ka’ahumanu,(the inspiration for the character of Wai-nani) rivaled that of Napoleon and Josephine. Kamehameha’s prophesied rise to power plays out like a Greek tragedy. The responsibility to impart this story of mythic proportion in a way that would engage western readers, while remaining true to the culture felt at times overwhelming. That Toby Neal, a woman who knows the history of the Islands, is deeply rooted in the culture, and is a fine writer herself, finds my effort worthy is extremely gratifying.
Photo by Mike Neal
Another dilemma I had when publishing this book was whether to use a pen name since my main writing credits are in the travel narrative genre.  In a blog conversation Toby echoes my sentiment that it feels like a deception that she doesn’t feel comfortable with. She attempts to place an umbrella of all things Hawaiian over her series of Lei Crime novels and her psychological suspense novel Unsound. As an adventure travel writer I have tried to include my historical novel in my travel identity as a book that takes you to a place you can’t get to any other way. Wai-nani speaks to you from the spirit well of pre-contact Hawai'i. Her story is a celebration of of the people of old and a window into a hauntingly beautiful place that no longer exists in its purity.