Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Review: 'The Fourth Law of Kanaloa' by Johan Twiss


Author Johan Twiss is a modern day abolitionist who supports the work of anti-human trafficking NGO's worldwide. He is passionate about curbing /stopping human trafficking, writing, speaking, and encouraging others to join in his mission. Of note he also owns the online toy, craft, and handbag store called Playfully Ever After and shares his childhood with an Hawaiian family – likely a powerful influence in developing this story.

The gift of writing short stories cm novellas is an art form that few other successful authors mast – as though length of a book allows more freedom to convey a tale simply by illuminating al of the atmosphere possible. Johan proves that verbiage is not the guiding light in painting a fantasy such as this splendid THE FOURTH LAW OF KANALOA. Johan has included jazz musicians in his books before so it seems he is comfortable in the milieu of that art form. He is able to mix the tragedies of war with the faith and imagination of a lone singer and given these odd seeds he successfully plants a tale that is both entertaining and compelling. And we continue to discover the depth of talent in Johan Twiss.

To establish the since of a fairytale, Johan opens with ‘Each day her voice drifted to me like a siren song. When she came to the shore, her melodies drew me closer— too close. When I saw what was coming, I became reckless and tried to warn her. I had to help. I knew the consequences. I knew that not even my title as Crown Prince of the Aqueor would protect me from Kanaloa’s judgment. But it didn’t matter. I had to save her.’

Time to outline the plot – ‘Running from her past, a jazz singer finds refuge on the island paradise around Pearl Harbor, but her world is forever changed when Japanese fighters attack and a mysterious figure emerges from the sea to save her life.’ Johan introduces Maris Stare – ‘Another day in paradise,” I whispered to myself, smiling as I stepped into the light of early dawn. Taking a breath of salty air, I started humming a ditty I’d been toying with since the night before at the club. The tune had been stuck in my head all night, playing through my dreams like the background music of a motion picture. Now it was back again, waiting for me to bring it to life as a song. Songwriting— my one true weakness. I held my koa ukulele a little tighter as it brushed against the side of my blue skirt. The gentle swishing sounded like brushes on a snare drum as I walked. The ukulele was practically brand new, and I did not want to accidentally drop it during the mile walk from my room at the club to my favorite little pier on the harbor. Visiting the pier had become my morning ritual since arriving at Oahu nearly three months ago. Almost no one was ever there, and the scenic view of the ocean, with the morning sky and the giant gleaming ships that filled the harbor, made the perfect setting for writing my songs. I felt drawn to this pier the first day I arrived. For some reason, the place made me feel... safe. And that’s something I hadn’t really felt since Momma passed away back in New Orleans. Being surrounded by thousands of handsome sailors, all dressed in white, didn’t hurt none either. I continued my walk, listening to the squawking seagulls flying overhead, when the breeze picked up the pungent aroma of dead fish from a local fishmonger. I crinkled up my nose in disgust. The foul smell assaulted my senses and sent my mind reeling. In a moment, I was no longer in Oahu, but back in New Orleans with my stepfather looming over me, smelling like dead fish, and his fist reeled back, ready to swing. “No!” I screamed— flinching. I blinked rapidly and took a deep breath, looking around to make sure no one else witnessed my lapse in reality. Stop it, Maris. You are free. You are strong. You are safe, I repeated in my head, lifting my chin up as I continued to walk. After momma’s death, things got worse with my stepfather, Gerald. She wasn’t there to calm him down, and once she was gone, he hit the bottle worse than ever. But I found a way out. My voice became my ticket to freedom.’

Of course the solace is disrupted with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but concurrent with this is the emergence of the ocean creatures who enlighten Maris as to the laws of the sea creatures – ‘I do not deny what I did. I touched the female human, Maris Johnson, to prevent her from drowning. But to save her life, I had to do more. I bound my magic to her soul when I spoke the Words of Life, sealing the oath with a sacred kiss.’

To share more of this romance would deprive the reader of the pleasures of the ending. This is another major work by a very fine young author. Grady Harp, November 17






Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

1 comment:

  1. Even though this was only a short story, it felt complete and completely captivated me from the start in Pearl Harbor to the ending in Boston. Great characters and a happily ever after ending. I hope he writes more in this world.

    ReplyDelete