Saturday, March 3, 2018

Book Review: 'Ambush Road' by C.W. Schutter

Colorado author Carole Whang Schutter (or CW Schutter) is originally from Hawaii, the third generation on her Japanese mother and a Korean father's side, graduated with a degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Hawaii, taught Ethnic Studies, is an evangelical Christian and a motivational speaker to live audiences as well as appearing on TV and radio shows. She now occupies her time writing novels, screenplays, and inspirational books. She has published five books, three in the MIRACLES HAPPEN -PRAYER GUIDES FOR DESPERATE PEOPLE, 4 novels - SEPTEMBER DAWN, THE OHANA, SCHOOL OF SHADOWS, AND DRAGON DOWNS and now AMBUSH ROAD. With this novel Carole returns to her roots in Hawaii and combines romance, mysticism, superstition and adventure - and appears to be beginning a series!

To draw the reader into the origins of the book, Carole shares the following: `The Ambush Road series takes place from the mid sixties to the early seventies, a time when I was coming of age. Hawaii has a rich history of immigrants, mostly from the Asia. And let us not forget, Native Hawaiians were immigrants who canoed their way from greater Polynesia. Every group brought their own superstitions and religious beliefs. Ambush Road takes place amidst the ghost stories of Hawaii and the mores and folkways of that era. Many of the stories in my novel are based on experiences anyone who grew up in Hawaii will recognize-- the menehune night marchers, the lady with no face, Pele, the volcano goddess, and Mako, the shark god. Many locals still believe there is some truth to the stories. Even tourists are intrigued as ghost tours are very popular in Honolulu.'

Carole opens her novel with a Prologue dated 1979: `During the summer of 1965, I lost my innocence, along with my childhood. At fourteen, I was mentally and emotionally unable to deal with the traumatic events of that summer. Even now, as a grown-up woman contemplating marriage, I was afraid to confront the ghosts of my past. Afraid my past would continue to haunt me and mess up my future. I did a terrible thing the summer of 1965. I didn't want to live with the guilt any longer. I needed closure. Fourteen years passed since that summer but Ambush Road looked almost exactly like it did back then. The houses were painted different colors, but otherwise, the three houses at the end of Ambush Road were unchanged.'And so we enter this island world with a story that demonstrates the various aspects of Carole's gift as a writer.

The synopsis outlines the tale well: `Ambush Road on Mount Tantalus is a mystical place hiding secrets that destroy lives. In the summer of 1965, fourteen-year-old Didi Nakaoka's life changes forever when she moves to the rainforest in the middle of Honolulu. Shadows of the past reach into the present shattering her childhood, and shoving her into realities she's emotionally unprepared for. As she and her two best friends, Benny and Milo, explore the rainforest along with urban legends like the lady with no face and menehune marches, superstition merges with reality. Didi discovers she cannot hide from the ugly truths and consequences of evil and hate. Didi's first love, Benny, is a shy, awkward, handsome sixteen-year-old. His superstar athlete older brother and their dad, bully him. Unable to deal with life, his agoraphobic mom lives in a tool shed. Didi admires sixteen-year-old Milo who lives up the street. The sexy, beautiful, and bold free spirit appears unafraid of crossing moral and legal lines. Until crossing the line leads all three of them to a dangerous point of no return. Amidst a backdrop of multi-ethnic superstition, Didi is faced with dark truths at a time when revolt simmered among an entire generation of teenagers and young adults who wanted to find themselves and their own truth. Didi wonders if she can emotionally survive the world she has been cruelly thrust into.'

There is an honesty in Carole's writing style that is irresistible - a very fine tandem with her story. Though her inclusion of her spiritual beliefs may not agree with everyone, those beliefs fit the story. And that is the important aspect of a successful novel. Grady Harp, May 15

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.