When a billionaire developer builds a luxurious resort on the Kona Coast of Hawaii, he reopens a centuries-old battle between a volcano goddess and her immortal enemies, and the ensuing chaos brings about the death of many patrons. Reprint.
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A period romance masquerading as a metaphysical thriller disguised as a buddy movie, this latest novel from Simmons (Lovedeath, 1993, etc.) bridges two centuries and offers lots of plucky fun along the way. The smoldering garden of the title is Hawaii, where the golf- starved Japanese who have come to purchase billionaire Byron Trumbo's sprawling resort are as likely to discover severed hands on the 14th green as they are to encounter a giant talking pig that devours souls. Historian Eleanor Perry has a different motive for her visit--to solve the mystery of her Great Great Great Great Aunt Kidder, whose Hawaiian adventures with Mark Twain in 1866 will be paralleled by Perry's own. In each era, a grumpy cabal of local priests summons the forces of darkness to rid the islands of an unwanted white plague--missionaries in Aunt Kidder's day, real- estate tycoons in Perry's. Shifting deftly between the mid-1800s and the present, Simmons uses Aunt Kidder's journal to recount her unlikely romantic gambol with Samuel Clemens, not yet Mark Twain but acid-tongued nonetheless. The pair's climactic scene together, in which Kidder and Clemens slather themselves with rotten kukui- nut oil and descend naked into the underworld, approaches inspired hilarity without compromising suspense. Never really too cloying in its symmetries, the novel supplies Perry with her own confederates, who, while not possessed of Clemens's legendary wit, are substantially more than cardboard action figures. In a useful twist, it's Cordie Stumpf, Perry's hard-drinking sister in arms, who, with a reluctant Trumbo as her Twain, battles the novel's pig- god Mephistopheles to reclaim Perry's captured ghost and save the imperiled resort. Allying the women, literally, with female volcanic deities, Simmons even wedges a feminist angle into his already bulging anthropological primer. The flip side of a Don Ho single, short on poi and ukuleles but long on elemental carnage, vengeful immortals, and nimble plotting. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
A talking hog with a bad attitude and a hungry humanoid with a shark's mouth in his hunchback are but two of the many loopy touches that Simmons (Lovedeath) puts into this fractured horror novel. There's also an unusual dual narration: a third-person account of the occult revenge wreaked on a ritzy but politically incorrect Hawaiian resort, and a first-person chronicle, drawn from a 19th-century diary, of similar troubles witnessed by the diarist, Lorena Stewart, and her traveling companion, the young Mark Twain. For all its eccentricities, though, the book is unlikely to add to Simmons's clutch of awards (Hugo, Bram Stoker, World Fantasy, etc.), because at heart it's powered by an utterly conventional horror premise-that nature will bite back when bitten-and because its dominant, present-time plot is peopled by cartoonish types. Chief among these is Byron Trumbo, the Trump-like tycoon who has so offended Hawaiian islanders with his sprawling resort carved into wilderness terrain that some have called upon ancient Hawaiian gods (hog and co.) and the giant volcanoes they control to destroy the resort. Simmons generates moderate suspense as Stewart's descendant and others race to save lives and souls from erupting volcanoes and malevolent gods, but not enough to avoid the reader's feeling that he should have shoehorned the entire story into the Twain segments, whose deft period charms more aptly suit the antiquated themes, characters and pyrotechnics on display. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Harper Collins, 1995. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0061056146
Book Description Harper Collins, 1995. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110061056146
Book Description Harper Collins, 1995. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Brand New!. Bookseller Inventory # VIB0061056146
Book Description Harpercollins (Mm), 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0061056146