Review: Hawaiian Gothic

Reviewed by Jen

This was an unusual story.  One tough to categorize.  It’s a love story and a ghost story. It’s about loyalty and sacrifice, yearning and hope.  It’s got mystery, mythology, emotion and sensuality.  I’m not sure I’ve read anything quite like it.

As the story begins, Ori is on his way back home to Hawaii after spending the past three years in the army and in military prison.  He’s been dishonorably discharged and has no idea what he is going to do with his future. The only thing he knows for sure is that he needs to get back to Kalani.  He wasn’t there when his best friend needed him most –when he was jumped and beaten into a coma.  Now the doctors are ready to give up. But Ori is holding on to hope for a miracle.

Ori has been in love with Kalani almost his entire life, but never believed his feelings could be returned.  It seems even more hopeless once he sees his friend’s lifeless eyes and wasted body.  Everything changes, though, when he is visited by Kalini’s spirit.  He finds out that Kalini returns his feelings and for the first time, they can express their love.  Unfortunately, Kalini doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to return to his body. That sends Ori on a quest to find a spiritual way to help his lover return to the land of the living.

The beginning of the book is emotionally heavy.  Then it grows sexy. But then it gets really wrapped up in Hawaiian mythology.  It’s a really important element of the book, but one of the things I liked about it the least.  Maybe it’s my lack familiarity with the culture, but I just didn’t connect with what was happening in the spiritual plane… at least not to the great degree it was explored in the second half.  There was also a lot of time jumping which I found hard to follow at some points.  The flashbacks were frequent and didn’t follow a strict chronology. I didn’t exactly get lost, but there were times they felt disjointed, even as the past helped unravel the mysteries of the present.

What I did really like was the relationship between Ori and Kalani.  The love between them was palpable.  Their sex scenes were steamy, but they clearly sprang from deep and true emotions.  It was worth it for me to hang on through their metaphysical journey to see how their love story would end.

Rating: C+

*ARC provided by authors for review

Hawaiian Gothic
by Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Loose ID

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