Welcome to the land of shadows, where evil is the greatest power, where nightfall marks the birth of terror, where your very soul is at risk. Join me as I investigate worlds filled with black magic and dark souls and encounter the monsters rule these wicked places.
This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the book.
That said, on to the review!
Business isn't business as usual at the Mauna Pele, a fabulous new resort almost exclusively for the rich and famous. It's builder, Bryan "Big T" Trumbo, has personal problems to deal with, but now people--guests and employees of the resort--are dying, and there's no explanation for it. Ms. Eleanor Perry, professor of the Enlightenment at Oberlin, thinks she knows what's going on and spends oodles to pay for her stay at the resort.
What she knows--what Trumbo doesn't know--is this: nearly 125 years ago (the 1860s to be exact) the kahuna tried to summon forth demons and demigods to drive out or destroy the invading missionaries, and Pele, goddess of the volcano, rose in power to banish them to Milu, the Underworld. Trumbo doesn't know it because all he cares about is making money--something he's having difficulty with because of the Mauna Pele problems. Perry knows, because one of her ancestors became intimately involved in the supernatural conflict. Aunt Kidder, a.k.a. Lorena Stewart, was touring Hawai'i during that time and became a key figure in defeating the demons: she was Pele's champion, as it were. She left a diary, and now her niece has come to play a similar role.
Dan Simmons sets Fires of Eden almost entirely in Hawai'i--with the exception of a scene in New York and another aboard a plane. His adaption of Hawaiian legend and mythology to suit his story might have some conservatives up in arms, but his presentation shows uncanny insight into the delicate balance of Hawaii's economic and environmental systems and the elemental forces always in flux. The gods come across as real characters--though in all honesty, he distanced them from reality as they were not in traditional Hawaiian legends--with realistic motivations. His mortal characters also seem real, Trumbo especially: he is the quintessential businessman, millionaire, and bigot, showing blatant disregard for everything unless it makes him money; "p.c." means nothing to him.
I first heard about this book from the Science Fiction Book Club (see my links page for their site) and searched high and low until I finally found it. I wondered how a non-resident would handle Hawai'i as a subject, and found nothing to complain about. The story makes sense, the visual imagery is stunning, and Simmons throws in sufficient data to firmly establish Hawai'i as a place and not and ideal.
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