One of the finalists for the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, A Chant of Love and Lamentation is the story of an act of terrorism that strikes at the heart of Hawaii. After Charlie Kaleohano blows up a hotel, he escapes to the wilderness while others struggle to come to terms with their losses. Can Hawaii’s fragile social order be saved?
This is in many ways an astonishing novel. It covers some shocking acts, and does so in an intelligent manner. The characterisations are wonderfully done, with author Brian Reeves refusing to ever allow his protagonists to sink to the point where they are merely ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Instead, A Chant of Love and Lamentation explores the spaces in-between such moral certitude.
I can see this book changing the perspectives of some readers, perhaps permanently. It might be hard to sympathise with a character like Charlie, but A Chant of Love and Lamentation lays down many such challenges for its readers. It’s not an easy book, but nor is it one that will be easily forgotten.
Star rating for A Chant of Love and Lamentation: 4½ stars.
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