Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review & Excerpt: The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles

28129039The Kingdom of Oceana
Author: Mitchell Charles
Publisher: Butterhorse Media
Format: ebook
Number of Pages: 233
Published:  December 8th,  2015

Five centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic. When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise.

As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt--just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape-shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki's spell. Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana? Two brothers, but only one can rule.

“While the book is fiction, it is heavily influenced by the rich and beautiful Hawaiian myths, legends, locales, and culture.  Many locations in the story are inspired by real places in Hawaii,” says Mitchell.

The Kingdom of Oceana takes readers on a fun and exciting adventure, with big wave surfing, fire walking, and shark taming, while also being educational and bringing to light many environmental and social issues, like ocean conservation. 

                                      Excerpt from The  Kingdom of Oceana
                                                    Ch. 1:  Waimoku Falls : 

We climbed the backside of the canyon, still winding through the singing forest. A sudden gust blew through the treetops, causing the tall hollow stalks to cry a warning and my heart to beat faster. What danger was Nahoa getting me into this time?

By midday we reached the tree line, and the terrain became near vertical, with slabs of volcanic rock stacked in a series of small ledges and caves.

I turned around, looking out over the green bamboo treetops. To my right, the towering snow-capped summit of Mauna Kea dominated the sky. It was the tallest and most sacred spot on the Great Island, and on rare occasions smoke and ash billowed from its peak, rising above the icy white snowdrifts. Fortunately, there had not been a major eruption or lava flow in many generations.

“I’ll race you to the top,” Nahoa challenged. “I’ll even give you a head start.”

We had always enjoyed a spirited rivalry, feeding off each other’s competitive nature. I surveyed the cliff, picking my route.

“You’re on,” I said as I hoisted myself up and grabbed onto a small lava finger hold. Just above me was a long fissure in the rock, sloping upward to my right and then back to the left. While this path would take me on a longer course, it was less demanding, and my best chance to beat Nahoa to the crest.

He saw my plan. “Good, little brother. That path is safer.”

I carefully moved forward, while Nahoa soon got stuck above me on the sheer vertical wall of lava, his legs dangling and his feet probing the cliffside.

“Fingers getting tired?” I asked him as I moved closer to the top. I was going to beat him, for once.

“I won’t be here long,” he said.

As I followed the crevice back to the left, Nahoa whipped his body to the right and leapt off the cliff, his foot landing on my shoulder. He pushed off my neck and hoisted himself onto the ledge above me, just below the crest.

“Thanks, omo,” he said with a wicked laugh.

As I pulled myself onto the ridgetop I saw Nahoa ahead, following a fast-moving river that disappeared in the distance.
“Move it!” he yelled above the sound of the rushing water.

I hurried to catch up and we crossed the river along a jagged path of partially submerged boulders smoothed over by the rapids.

Before us, the river gained strength where it merged with a smaller tributary and formed a swirling vortex that plummeted off the cliff as Waimoku Falls.
“That’s it,” said Nahoa, pointing at a small hill piled with rubble just in front of where the two rivers joined.

There we found the remains of a crescent-shaped fortress made from stacked lava rocks. The curved wall was crumbling, with crusty orange lichen growing in the crevices and bright green geckos sunning themselves on top. The ground was littered with shark teeth, razor sharp and bleached by the scorching tropical sun.

I was disappointed. I’d hoped to find a great temple with cryptic markings or intricate carvings. What lay before us was nothing more than a pile of weather-beaten rocks.

“Well, this is a waste of time,” said Nahoa. He picked up a stone and hurled it at the remains of the fortress. From beneath the broken wall, a gathering of centipedes scrambled to escape the sunlight.

An icy wind went through me. It wasn’t like a tropical breeze that cools your sweaty cheek. No, it pierced my flesh like I was no more solid than a palm frond. Disturbing the centipedes was a bad omen—they were minions of the shadows.

“Did you feel that?” I asked.

Nahoa stood frozen, the hair on his arms standing on end.

He swallowed. “Feel what?”

“I don’t think we should be here,” I said, motioning for us to leave. For once, I hoped he’d agree with me.

“Do you want me to hold your hand, little brother? We’ll just have a look around, that’s all.”

                                                            My Thoughts: 

My initial reason for wanting to read The Kingdom of Oceana, was that cover and the setting.  I've never visited Hawaii, nor do I know much about its traditions or mythology for that matter.  Most of what I know comes from movies and television shows, unfortunately.  One of the first things that I did notice is that Mitchell really brought the setting of Hawaii and world of Oceana alive for me with his vivid and detailed descriptions.  That excerpt is just a small sample of his writing, but there are many more examples where he is describing the animal life, coral reefs, ocean, surfing, even the canoes that the people used. Some of my favorites were the descriptions of the food found on the island.  

"The fruit was arranged to resemble an oversized flower.  In the center was a mound of small orange and green citrus.  The petals of the fruit arrangement were fashioned from bananas, mangoes, and sliced pineapple spears.  The border was a circle of lychee fruit with pink thorny shells."  

Mitchell also uses Hawaiian words with a definition at the bottom of the page and glossary at the back of the book.  I appreciate those kinds of details. 

The main gist of the story centers on an ancient tiki statue holding the "mana of a king" and how history seems to be repeating itself through Prince Ailani and Prince Nahoa.  There are some similar themes found in other middle-grade books of light magic and dark/shadow magic,  as well as the struggles between siblings, but there are also things like spirit animals and Kahuna's who can use telepathy as well as heal. I was most intrigued with the idea of how technology or "mikini"  was  changing the island and might be leading to the demise of magic.  Lots of things to ponder, with some fun twists thrown in too.  The author's website includes two study guides, which can be adapted for either language arts or a science class,  photographs for the inspirations of many of the places discussed, and study questions. Overall, a very enjoyable read and nice introduction to Hawaii and its culture.   

*Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Mitchell Charles’ love of the ocean and its miraculous creatures began at the age of 12 when his father taught him to SCUBA dive. From his first adventure 50 feet (15 meters) beneath the Caribbean Sea he was hooked. He has been involved in the Oceanic Society, America’s first non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, established in 1969.

Mitchell’s inspiration for The Kingdom of Oceana was born of exploring the spectacular coastline, lush valleys, and vibrant coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands. On these excursions, he imagined what Hawaii was like hundreds of years ago. Before Captain Cook arrived from England. Before the golf courses and hotels. Before the ukulele and the Mai Tai became icons of Hawaiian culture. He dreamed of a time when the islands were an undiscovered magical paradise.

These days, Mitchell divides his time between Southern California and Hawaii. He has two teenage children and a dog named Magic.

Mitchell is currently working on the second book in the Kingdom of Oceana series, The Legend of the Nine Sacred Pearls. For more information, visit

Readers can connect with Mitchell on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't heard of this one before. Great to read the excerpt and to find out more about it. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for sharing!