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SOUND THE PU HORN –

 

PRAISE FOR THE KINGDOM OF OCEANA

5 Star PNG

a gem of a find

The Plot

The Kingdom of Oceana is told from the perspective of Ailani, the teenaged second son of the king of Royal Island (Hawai’i). One day, he and his brother Nahoa are exploring, when Nahoa dares him to go to a forbidden spot above a waterfall. There, they encounter a tiki head with a strange, malevolent power. Their encounter shapes their destinies, and that of all the island kingdoms of Oceana, forever.

This is a classic coming of age tale set in ancient Hawai’i. Ailani struggles with feelings of rivalry, jealousy, and friendship with his older brother Nahoa, who is bigger, stronger, more confident, and seems destined to become the next king. As we see from Ailani’s perspective, Nahoa is frequently nasty, borderline abusive towards his younger brother. Their relationship is fascinating as it dances the line between normal sibling rivalry and toxicity. Ailani’s main character arc is coming to accept himself for the person he is, rather than always trying to define himself in comparison to his brother.

Court Intrigue

Trouble plagues the different kingdoms in the form of international tensions between Ailani’s father and the king of Pearl Island, which has become rich but corrupt. Pearls, in Ailani’s culture, are sacred and magical gems; but Pearl Island has perfected the practice of creating manufactured pearls. This has created a deal of wealth for them, but also increased the wealth gap and made their king want more wealth, power, prestige — even empire.

As a son of the king, Ailani is taken on a diplomatic mission to Pearl Island to try to resolve their differences. There, he befriends Momi, a princess, and together they unearth the corruption, cruelty, and sacrilege which have given Pearl Island much of its power. Ailani’s father Haga doesn’t believe that going against the natural order of things and discarding their beliefs is worth it just to achieve material wealth; obviously, the King of Pearl Island has a different outlook. Tensions rise and Haga is given an ultimatum: they have to submit to the rule of Pearl Island, or face war.

The depictions of the different kingdoms, their practices, and the figures controlling power are all detailed, engaging, and frankly a delight to read.

Magic

Another conflict is the resurgence of evil magic and the undead, caused by Ailani and Nahoa’s disturbance of the tiki. The framing of magic in this book seems at first very black and white: there’s light magic (good) and shadow magic (bad). But as the book goes on, we see that things are not necessarily so cut and dried. I was a little wary at first to see the strong opposition between light and shadow magic. It didn’t seem to reflect the interplay between the two, the grey areas, that exist in many belief systems (and fantasy magic systems!).

However, by the end of the book, we’ve got light and shadow sorcerers coming together, each using different kinds of magic, as well as the introduction of something called luminescent magic — the way energy flows between and throughout light and dark through all of the world. In the end, Ailani also has to embrace the shadow magic when it’s needed if he wants to be victorious.

I personally would differentiate a bit between magic and spirituality as portrayed in the book. Magic appears to be a certain thing only accessible to some people, whereas spirituality — finding one’s spirit animal, sensing spirits, talking to animals and spirits throughout the world, accessing the spirit realm — is a part of the world open to everyone (albeit sometimes under very specific circumstances, such as the vision quest Ailani and Nahoa must undertake to find their spirit animals). There’s a lot of overlap between the two, but it was handled well in a way that I, at least, found easy to understand. A lot of this is based on Indigenous beliefs, and the author appears to have incorporated real spirituality and beliefs into a fantasy setting in a sensitive way. I don’t practice those beliefs, so I can’t speak with authority on this topic.

The Setting, Characters, and More

This all, gratifyingly, takes place in a pre-white-people world. While the author is not Hawai’ian, you can read more about his research process and where he drew inspiration on his website.

I also appreciated the fact that Puhi, Ailani’s friend who is a Little Person, does not get a “magic cure” in the end. At one point, spoiler, he has his finger bitten off by a zombie. While magic saves his life, someone asks if another act of magic will restore his finger. The answer is no. That was a small thing, but quite gratifying considering how most fantasy uses magic to fix every disability, injury, or even minor inconvenience.

One thing that I did not particularly like was how the fat characters, notably the King of Pearl Island and his corrupt alchemist, are described. Several metaphors about their greed, coupled with the descriptions of their physical fatness, draw distasteful parallels between their corruptness/wealth/greed and them being fat. Fat characters, particularly fat corrupt royals and such in fantasy, are often coded as evil, and their physical appearance stands in for their metaphorical “hunger” for power.

The settings are a delight to read and you feel like you are actually there. Also, Ailani, being Hawai’ian, uses Hawai’ian words to describe the important things around him even though the book is written in English. When a new Hawai’ian word is introduced, there’s a linked footnote to a definition at the end of each chapter. At the definition, another link takes you back to your place. Once a word has been defined the first time, it’s never footnoted again. So, the book doesn’t presume that you do know the words, but it doesn’t assume that you don’t, either. This was a FAR more organic way of using Indigenous terms in an English-language book than doing something like having Ailani stop to explain what they mean in the middle of his thought.

More About Sibling Rivalry, Because I’m A Sucker For That

I found the sibling rivalry one of the most interesting factors in the book. Ailani and Nahoa are the main pair of siblings, but there’s another pair (not revealing because it’s a major spoiler) as well as a historical pair of brothers. While the rivalry themes mainly center around brotherhood, other family dynamics are explored as well. For instance, Nahoa and Ailani’s mother clearly favors Nahoa, while their father seems more fair in his treatment of the brothers.

And while the book handles themes of sibling rivalry, it also doesn’t show just one cut-and-dried way to resolve — or not resolve — it. While we get to see the good sides of Nahoa, his bullying is never excused as just a misunderstanding. This is an important contrast to the other pair of brothers, whose toxic relationship IS just based on a misunderstanding.

As for female characters, there’s Luina, who is younger but already learning to become a master of seafaring and navigation. I did wish she played a more prominent role in the climax of the book, but she dropped out of the plot at some point. Ailani’s mother is a more troubled, but complex, character. She has abrupt mood swings and is easily swayed by promises of wealth and pretty things. However, it’s hard not to sympathize with her unconditional love for even the bullying Nahoa, or with her being upset when her husband leaves to journey for weeks or months at a time.

Finally, there’s Momi, the princess of Pearl Island. There’s a minor love triangle, but it’s pretty clear who Momi prefers from the start. I feel like a lot of plots concerning coming of age are wrapped up with “and the hero gets the girl,” but The Kingdom of Oceana didn’t do that. Momi plays an important role in helping expose corruption and get rid of the evil magic, and in the end, it’s understood that Momi and Ailani will continue their relationship. However, there’s not a gross moment when she gifts him her love as a prize, as we sometimes see. Actually, the end of the novel focuses on a mother’s grief, and Ailani trying to mend things with her and make things right within his own family.

One thing that helped with avoiding this trope is that the ending is definitely ambiguous — there’s certainly room for a sequel and more trouble down the line. Another thing is that Momi and Ailani establish their relationship earlier on, and are able to work as a team to help everyone in the finale. They’re equals and I appreciated that.

Cover and Title

I wasn’t particularly enthused about the cover art or title, to be honest. The cover art is pretty, but I like to see characters or action on the cover myself. Like a significant scene such as Ailani, Puhi, and Luina on the wa’a going into the mists, or something. Maybe I’m weird. You might like the cover. It didn’t really tell me all that much about the book that the title itself didn’t. You can read more about the title art and artist here.

As for the title, it reads to me like something out of a history book, almost signalling a nonfiction work. This is probably just me being weird. If not for the blurb, I’d also be a little unclear on genre; I was initially unsure whether this was purely historical fiction or fantasy, or historical fantasy, or whether it was a purely fantasy world just based on Polynesian and Pacific Islander culture. Just so you know, it’s historical fantasy (set on Earth in the past, but with fantasy elements). At least, that’s how I understood it!

Final Thoughts

I’m not Hawai’ian and have never even been to Hawai’i, so I can’t speak to the book’s authenticity of setting or comment on how it uses culture. I’ll leave that up to reviewers who are. The author does talk about his process and people who helped build the book on his site, which I’ve already linked. I personally found this an overall delight to read, the descriptions a sensory marvel, the characters well-drawn and developed, and overall it’s a gem of a find if you’re looking for indies to read. (Laura, http://lauraplusthevoices.blogspot.com/2017/04/review-kingdom-of-oceana-by-mitchell.html, April 19, 2017)

5 Star PNG

Sibling rivalry and self-discovery at its best!

“The Kingdom of Oceana” drops you into a swirling world of mythology and intrigue. Rampant sibling rivalry is magnified by magical forces and beliefs. This is a great story that shows an example of how karma works. Both adults and children would enjoy this tale, which almost has the feel of a folk tale which has been passed down from generation to generation. Definitely an enjoyable read! (J. Hall, April 6, 2017)

5 Star PNG

My 7th grade students have enjoyed it.

I’m a 7th grade English teacher, and this is what one of my student said about it:

“The book was very interesting, and I loved it, though I would not have picked The Kingdom of Oceana because the cover was a little bit scary because of the tiki, though it was still very nice. I liked how there was a princess, Momi, who was very brave and helped Ailani get back to the village with the tiki. Momi is my favorite character. It was very dramatic, especially the first time Ailani fell off the Waimoku Falls and when the cold breeze would blow through the pages. I loved how I could just immerse myself into the book, and how I felt like I was really in the story. There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about the book, except for the tiki on the cover, like I mentioned, but even that was very pretty, if you didn’t pay attention to the tiki. My least favorite character is Nahoa, Ailani’s brother. It was a great read.” (Sarah Sansbury, March 26, 2017)

5 Star PNG

Great Mix of Mythology and Storytelling

The Kingdom of Oceana is a sibling story at its core, but with Hawaiian mythology woven within the plot. I feel like Mitchell Charles did a great job creating that relationship. Ailani is always trying to measure up to his older brother Nahoa, and Nahoa likes to remind Ailani that he is the little brother. I really enjoyed the character development throughout the story. I feel that Ailani grew up not only because of necessity, but because he was starting to see his potential. I also really enjoyed learning more about the Hawaiian culture.

This is a great book for younger readers and adults alike. I highly recommend it. (Caity Newberry at Meaning Beyond Words, March 25, 2017)

4 Star PNG

A Quick, Colorful Read

The Kingdom of Oceana is a classic story of sibling rivalry—a novel based on action and adventure that we’d recommend for readers twelve and up. Set in a fantasy version of a timeless Hawaii, it has fire walking and surfing and sharks and zombie fish… plenty of thrills to capture the imagination.

It also has magic, mystery, and a message of environmentalism weaving a natural thread throughout the story. Many books for younger readers attempt to merge entertainment with education, but few do it well. This one does.

It’s a short, quick read—appropriate for the age group. The only catch for some will be the Hawaiian words peppered throughout the novel. The words are explained, so there’s no confusion, but pronunciation will be tricky for those not familiar with the language.

The story takes some predictable turns, and there are a few plot elements that are either unexplained or left hanging. Not so much in a cliff-hanger way as in a never-got-back-around-to-it kind of way.

Still, the plot moves along well, and the interactions between the brothers—not to mention their intertwined relationships with a strong supporting cast—are both realistic and entertaining. Add to all that a gorgeous, mystical setting, and Mitchell Charles has created a pearl of a book: colorful and quick, the perfect white magic to heal any reading slump. (Erin Michelle Sky, March 25, 2017)

4 Star PNG

I adored the descriptive writing style- it hooked me from the start and never let go.

I am not the biggest fantasy and mythology fan, but I just couldn’t resist taking a chance at this book when I received the publicist’s request- seriously, it takes place in Hawaii, someplace I’ve always wanted to go!

I did enjoy this book, and I was especially pleased to after reading so many other mediocre fantasies. Enjoying The Kingdom of Oceana has probably opened up a whole new door to other books of this type, and for that I am so happy!

For a brief synopsis, this story revolves around a prince named Ailani. On his Hawaiian island, he and his brother find a mysterious ancient tiki mask as well as a wicked curse that could cause a threat to their land. So, he decides that it’s time to take action. Thus, Prince Ailani gathers together many sidekicks, friends, and a potential love interest in order to overcome the curse and hopefully reign himself as the next king.

I liked Prince Ailani’s character a lot, as he was strong, brave, and never afraid to take risks. I also love the fact that he formed an alliance of so many diverse creatures to fight the curse, as well as how everyone came together and bonded. Even though he went through some sibling rivalry with his brother, he still seemed to me like he was a great one, as he was always, always there for him.

Like most fantasies I read, the plot took some time to speed up, but once it did, I was mesmerized. There was a lot of action in this book, definitely more than what I’m used to and enjoy, but it went quite well with the beautiful setting, and I definitely warmed up to it!

Lastly, I adored the descriptive writing style- it hooked me from the start and never let go. I was able to visualize the gorgeous state of Hawaii so well, and the writing made me all the more eager to take a nice, relaxing vacation there!

All in all, I wasn’t disappointed by The Kingdom of Oceana, and I think this book has made me much more confident and eager to try some more mythologic fantasies. I’d recommend this story to those interested in reading something full of fantasy and magic with a strong protagonist in lovely Hawaii, because I believe that many more people should be reading this one. (Kayla, Kdrewkthebookworm, March 10, 2017)

5 Star PNG

A beautiful tale set on a beautiful island that makes for a fun and exciting read.

Sixteen-year-old Prince Ailani has always been in his brother’s shadow and feels that he is where he is destined to be. They live on the island of Hawaii, where there is adventure, surfing, shark taming, fire walking, and even a thousand-year-old curse that they are about to unleash on their paradise. The boys discover an ancient tiki mask at a forbidden burial ground. Then without knowing it, they set about a chain of events that will send the islands of Oceana out of control. Prince Ailani must get in touch with his inner strength, and his ancestral spirit animal in order to overcome the obstacles they are about to face.

It pains me to say that I have had this on the shelf for a while and just now picked it up. This was a fun adventure that is rich in history and full of fun. Mitchell Charles did a great job of creating a wonderful tale showing sibling rivalry at its most intense, magic, love and so much more. While reading, I felt like I was on the islands, and wished I was there experiencing the beauty. That’s the great thing about a well written book, it can transport you to a magical place you might never be able go to in real life. The mythical elements were fun to read. I particularly enjoyed the playful banter between Ailani and the Kahuna. It had just enough humor to keep me smiling but not so much that it took away from the suspense and mystery of the story.

Since I have finished I keep looking and hoping for a second book to come out and continue the story, fingers crossed it will still happen. I think this could be considered a great YA read, especially with the length, not too long to intimidate younger readers but enough to fully flesh out the story. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a good thrill set in a beautiful and magical place.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own. (Jessica Higgins, March 24, 2017)

A story of love, betrayals, customs, traditions, animal rights…

Only one can rule! Just what does that mean to both Prince Ailani and his brother Prince Nahoa? Within the pages of this YA novel you will hear the voice of Ailani that is the strongest as we learn about his fears, insecurities and finally his realization that he is not just someone’s son or younger brother but a brave warrior too. Dealing with the many obstacles he faces and the rituals and customs that he and his brother must endure, they are sort of a rite of passage to the next level of their lives, you feel the tension, realize the resentments and jealousies as both brothers are taken to many different areas to show their own mettle, compete to see which one is the strongest and will survive and when in danger will either one rescue the other?

Prince Ailani is insecure and often relates to the reader in his own way that he is living in the shadow of his older brother. Ailani you might say is the savior or braver and more courageous of the two as you enter the Kingdom of Oceania and take on the competition along with him. Polite, shy in some respects and kind to those he meets you fall in love with him from the first page. As he is kind and gentle his brother Nahoa is combative, obstructive, throwing jabs verbal and physical at Ailani as you meet them at the beginning where Nahoa puts his brother in a dangerous situation that might have cost him his life. From the start you can tell that the rivalry might be between the two brothers but as you meet the father, the Kahuna and many others you will realize it’s inbred in their culture and Nahoa seems to have caught on faster. Enter the area for the first competition and hear the voices of both young boys and realize who wins each match and the final result. The story centers at the start with the two boys arguing with each other and then finding a tiki mask in a place that they should not have been. The place is described so vividly you feel like you are there with both boys and Hawaii is the setting for this story as is Pearl City.

The competition and jealousies rear their heads within the novel as we meet their father, King Haga and his rival King Lako who seems to have defied the gods and customs of Oceana and is killing off dolphins and whales which are sacred. Magic in certain respects is forbidden except in the case of the Kahuna and possibly the alchemist that he challenges. The alchemist relates that he is three hundred years old. Listening to him and what he is capable of doing and his reflection about his past you begin to wonder if this is true. As the Kahuna shows him his own skills and his telepathic connection to the youngest prince provides an aside to the novel that allows readers to know that Ailani is special. Can some of the tribal members create their own stories? Can they try to do this to change the opinions or perceptions that other kingdoms have of them into helping them realize they are superior?

This is a story about power, control, family discord and two young boys who are vying for the attention of their father, elders and the hope to win the heart of the daughter of King Lako. The setting is profound as the characters find themselves deep within the waters of many different places, the caverns and the amazing finds within them. The reader is taken back into their time period, smelling the soft scents around them seeing the kukui oil lamps and committing themselves to the places where they would be living in. At the center of the story is the discord between the two kings and can they form an alliance or will they wage war?

The two brothers find themselves at odds when times and Ailani often winds up sick hurt and not recalling events that happened. Knowing that King Lako is killing off whales which goes against one of the three directives and using sorcery which also goes against their laws, Ailani and his brother plus the king’s daughter and others join forces to stop what he has tragically begun.

Every step of the way Ailani is tested and even though he begins to resent Kahuna and throws away the black feather it seems that he still remains loyal. With Kahuna’s brother seemingly distrustful and Momi helping them against her father’s will, what exactly is King Lako planning and what will he do when he learns about his daughter? Will she betray her father? This is a story about betrayals, loyalties, trusts and the coming of age of Ailani, his brother and many others.

The story is told that a thousand years ago a king lived with a heart that was dark or black as night. He was the master of the shadow of arts and obsessed with eternal life. Legend says he cared a tiki head in his likeness and then called forth the centipedes to devour his flesh, releasing his mana to forever dwell in the Tiki. This king had two sons and they fought the centipedes and swept them into the bay by drowning thousands of them. The brothers went atop Waimoku Falls but they were too late and the king now embodied in the wooden idol, beckoned his sons to join him in the realm of the undead. Cycles within cycles are what this is about and the curse that caused the king to join the undead was unleashed when Kahoa and Ailani found the Tiki. As the Kahuna after defeating the undead of the Kaimoni, with the infinite power of the cloud pearl, the young king created three directives vowing to never let such evil reign again: Fist: royals were not permitted to practice magic. Second it was forbidden to raise the dead and finally the laws of nature were not to be meddled with. This king made the ultimate sacrifice and afraid of the power of the cloud pearl, hoped it would not fall into the wrong hands: He released it. But, Ailani seems to be conduit to save Oceana and his spirit animal the sea horse would guide him but what about his brother who has practically been named the successor to his father’s throne? The Lua Master misleads Ailani and the end result will shock readers but will Ailani pay a heavy price for his actions? Lawehala is the Kahuna’s brother who is at odds for a long time but will they reconcile before it’s too late? The ending will surprise readers as Ailani and Momi fight for their lives; the hope of both of their kingdoms and a final sacrifice is made. Who took the Tiki? Who caused the undead to rise? Who dishonored their family and which son did King Haga’s wife favor and why? The ending is just the start of what is yet to come as one son might reign and the other has yet to seek his revenge and retribution. A story of love, betrayals, customs, traditions, animal rights, fighting for the lives of the whales and dolphins and keeping the waters pure for the animals without taking their habitat away. Who wins? Who is cursed? Who will rule OCEANA? (Fran Lewis, Just Reviews, March 22, 2017)

5 Star PNG

The author does an amazing job building a world where men and animals are …

Action and adventure await in this well-written YA novel about sibling rivalry and coming of age in a time of myth and magic!

The story takes place in ancient Hawaii. The author does an amazing job building a world where men and animals are integrally connected and their histories interwoven. It’s brilliantly imaginative and vibrant. I was particularly enamored by the scenery. The author really draws the reader in with vibrant imagery and entertaining subplots.

At the heart of the story is a young brother who must find his way in the world. Because he’s second born, he questions his place in life. But his heart is pure and so is his noble spirit.

Overall, I enjoyed this immensely. I recommend to readers who enjoy Polynesian history and mythology. (TJ, March 20, 2017)

Charles’ love of the natural world and the ocean is a core strength of the book

Imagine Hawaii set 500 years in the past, when people traveled between islands with outrigger canoes and took long sea voyages to distant islands like Tahiti. In this alternative, but ancient Hawaii, there is old magic and sorcery, wise kings and not-so-wise kings, spirit journeys in the ocean, and lots of sibling rivalry.  Ailani and his brother Nahoa are royal princes who are coming of age, and they see the world through very different eyes. Their family is faced with a great threat from outside, although some see this threat as a new future for the islands.

The Kingdom of Oceana, a first novel by Mitchell Charles, explores loyalty, family dynamics, romance, power struggles, tradition versus progress, and finding one’s place in the world.  Things are not always what they appear to be on the surface.

The writing is clean and the story moves quickly. The dialogue is entertaining and believable, especially the conflicts between Ailani and his brother. The author seems to draw on his own personal experience as a sibling, or as a parent of two teenagers.

Because the story is an imaginative work of an alternative and magical ancient Hawaii, readers should not expect accuracy in details of what old Hawaii was like 500 years ago. Details like lavender essential oil, fire walking, monkeys in Tahiti, tropical fruits that may not have been grown at that time, or men and women eating together – which would likely never have happened in Hawaii 500 years ago, could stick out for readers wanting a more historically grounded perspective on ancient Hawaii. Instead, it’s best to flow with the story and accept the adventure and fantasy that Charles presents.

However, the Hawaiian words and phrases used in the book are real, not fantasy. The culture of Hawaii flavors the book and readers will learn some aspects of Hawaii that are based in fact, like respect for the ocean, lava sledding, and personal gods who protect the family. Charles has a glossary to help readers with unfamiliar words. One can learn some useful Hawaiian words by studying the glossary.

While geared for young adult readers, adults may find The Kingdom of Oceana enjoyable as well. Ailani is a charming protagonist who, over and over, must learn to trust himself and his inner wisdom, despite the consequences.  This message is good for young people, but also a reminder for adults.  The theme of potential devastation to their island kingdom also mirrors threats that our current world is facing. Some readers may find the environmental message a bit preachy or some scenes too whimsical, but I think that Charles’ love of the natural world and the ocean is a core strength of the book.  Some of the ocean scenes are quite captivating. (Courtney Turner, Maui Jungalow, March 13, 2017)

4 Star PNG

Hawaii and Mythical moments in all of this!

I first saw this book and thought about all the movies and reads based in Hawaii and how much I enjoyed them. So, I said why not give this a try… and I am so glad that I did.

This has it all. The mythical aspect is everywhere in this fantastical world, as well as brother feuds that get more and more intense when a tiki mask is discovered in a place neither of them should have trespassed upon. Moments that drive chills up once spine, while others that make us fall even more in love with the beauty and landscapes of Hawaii and all that is a part of it.

“I brushed myself off and looked around, taking in the beauty of the crystal cavern. It was shaped like half of a clamshell, with the ceiling tapering to the ground at the back. The sides were strewn with crystal stalactites that dripped from the ceiling like jeweled pillars. The luminescent, milky columns shimmered in the reflection of the kukui oil lamps that burned soflty beneath them.”

If that weren’t enough, author Mitchell Charles adds another charm to this novel with footnotes. They are inserted in just the right places and adds so much more to The Kingdom of Oceana, giving us another feel of being right there with them and part of the culture and magical land within these pages.

“Wisps of luminescent fog in the shape of men rose from the gravesites and floated towards us, and I realized I was in a state of half-waking, half-dreaming.

“What is that?’ asked Nahoa.”

“The unihipili,’ I replied, not fully believing what I was seeing. ‘The undead spirits of ancient warriors.”

The story grows even more from there. With characters who can speak telepathically with each other, with animals, with the spirits. An alchemist who claims to be three hundred years old. Members that can shape shift into animals and levitate things. And more of that within this novel.

Then a tale well known, of chiefs (Kings) trying to convince the other that their kingdom is the better one. And theirs is the one that should be merged into, not the other way around. It is a constant battle and decisions need to made or all of the people will become affected by it.

“Well, did King Lako agree to join our kingdom?’ she pressed.”

“Join our kingdom? He thinks we should join his,’ replied Father.”

I enjoyed every element of this book and wished there were more to it. In some parts, it seemed like it was over too quickly, and in others I was left wishing I could have more descriptive pieces of the gorgeous setting. That is my only negative comment, which isn’t really negative at all. I am thankful to the author and publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this novel, because I may not have heard about it otherwise and would have missed out on this wonderfully crafted story. (Jen, http://lifewithinthepages.com/index.php/2017/03/05/kingdom-oceana-mitchell-charles/ , March 6, 2017)

3 star

Who doesn’t like a dramatic book that explores sibling rivalry?

I very rarely review books designed for younger readers but I am so glad I made an exception for this book!

The Kingdom of Oceana tells the story of two teenage brothers who both bid and scrap for their parents love and attention. The brothers are close to a certain extent, but also hold resentments towards each other which threaten to destroy their relationship and their entire kingdom.

Mitchell Charles has brought the culture and life of Hawaii to life in his book and has shown a deep respect and understanding towards the history of the island and its people. I really enjoyed the colour, life and amusement that this book had to offer from cover to cover and found myself drawn in to Ailani’s story as it unfolded throughout the pages. The characters are well written and you feel like a witness to an intense journey as you read, like you are drawn into the action rather than being separate from it.

One element I found particularly helpful when reading was the additional information provided for any unfamiliar words that related to Hawaiian culture. These helped me to understand not only the story as it unfolded, but also gave me a better appreciation for the society and time the book was written about.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but I do feel it is more aimed at teenagers by the way it is written and the content covered within the book. (Holly’s Book Corner, February 27, 2017)

The Kingdom of Oceana is a Young Adult Fantasy set in Hawaii 500 years in the past when the people and the sea-life lived in harmony. Each respecting and protecting the other. A time when myths rule and magic abounds!

When greed and sibling rivalry divide the islands and a dark magic infects the sea they must unite to fight a common enemy. But will it be in detriment of the whole island or will the rulers see the way before it’s too late.

This is an action packed story full of legend, history, myth, magic, danger, jealousy and a touch of romance.

I’ve rated at 11+ as there is a bit of violence involved although it is not too graphic and good does triumph over evil eventually.

Well plotted and beautifully described the scenes come alive as if watching them on the big screen. An immersive story of destiny that will hold the attention of both adult and child alike. (Ronnie293, February 17, 2017)

5 Star PNG

The author’s love and enthusiasm for oceans clearly depicts the theme of…

Have you read a book and wished the story could have been reduced, oops no…rather extended into at least a few more pages? The Kingdom of Oceana is one such book, written for adult and children, alike. The author’s love and enthusiasm for oceans clearly depicts the theme of the book.

(Read more reviews at my blog <a href=”https://etherealjinxed.wordpress.com”>Ethereal Jinxed</a>.)

Talk about adventure, love, jealousy, power, lessons, the book caters to everyone. The use of Hawaiian language adds an additional charm to the descriptive language, with a proper footer describing each such word. And the language never feels like it’s too much. All in all, a must read on fantasy, oceans, oceanic creatures, coastlines, magic, curses, coral reefs etc.

In fact, the author’s website has two study guides to accompany the book and it’s simply perfect. Be it, the audiobook or the written one, I can sing praises for the flow and tone of both. Go for it! (Alka R., https://eterialjinxed.worpress.com, January 15, 2017)

5 Star PNG

One of my favorite parts of this book is the fire walk

I decided to have my students read this book because they are so honest about what they think! Here is what my student said:

To Mitchell Charles,

One of my favorite parts of this book is the fire walk in the beginning. I also like when everyone is on the boat and when they all go to the forbidden grounds. I like the cover art of this book and how there is a Tiki and a shark tooth. I also really like how Hawaiian words are used throughout the book. This was such a good book! I am recommending it to my classmates! (Brianne Walterhouse, January 14, 2017)

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A Visit to Hawaii in Novel Form

I started reading this book from the point of view of a teacher. I was looking to decide whether this would be a good addition to my classroom library. However, the more I read, the less I thought about my class. That after all, in my opinion, is the mark of a good book – one that pulls you into the story to the point that you forget everything else.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the way it immersed you in Hawaiian culture. The author does a great job of describing the beautiful scenery and animals. He also introduces us to many Hawaiian words throughout the book. (As a teacher, I appreciate the fact that the Hawaiian words are defined at the bottom of each page.)

The plot was interesting and definitely held my attention. It begins with two brothers that make the mistake of walking through a forbidden burial ground which results in an ancient curse returning to power. That curse then threatens to ruin their island as well as the other islands around them. One of the brothers, Prince Ailani must find a way to defeat the curse once and for all bringing peace and prosperity back to their land.

I am definitely looking forward to putting this book in my classroom library. I know my students will enjoy it just as much as I did! (C. Gillespie, December 31, 2016)

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A Well Rounded Read

The author pulled me into ancient Hawaii with the vivid world building and lovely characters. Full of sibling rivalry, action and adventure makes this a well-rounded read that readers of all ages will love. (Laura Hernandez, December 27, 2016)

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Students LOVE This!

My students absolutely LOVED reading this book! I have it in my class library, and my kids just wait for one another to finish reading it so they can grab it off of the shelf. Thank you so much for such an engaging book that my kids love! (Bobby, December 26, 2016)

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Hawaiian historical fantasy fiction – hooray!

Two Hawaiian princes are coming of age and their sibling rivalry could turn to more than pranks and minor disagreements. When their trespassing on forbidden ground unleashes an ancient curse, things turn bad between their island and a rival island kingdom. Sorcery, surfing, and subterfuge combine in this beautiful coming of age story.

Prince Nahoa and his younger brother, Prince Ailani, are on the cusp of manhood. Their father has lead their island kingdom well for these many years, but now a rival island, Pearl Island, seeks their support and subservience. None of the royal family are eager to enter into such an agreement. There’s sibling rivalry, a minor love story, adventure, magic, mystery, and talking to animals. I was enchanted by this story.

The entire tale is told through Ailani’s eyes and I became rather attached to him. I really wanted him to come through this book intact. While he knows his place isn’t to rule (that’s the first son’s job once his father passes), he still has a well developed sense of right and wrong. Coupled with that is his ability to forgive, which is greatly tested where his brother is concerned. Nahoa is constantly teasing Ailani and sometimes outright insulting him. There’s also his pranks, one of which leads to the unleashing of a curse.

Both princes are tutored by the island’s kahuna, which is a magician priest. Ailani does a better job listening than Nahoa and he has a stronger bond with the old kahuna. The magic element of this story is so well done. The characters don’t question that magic exists because they have grown up around it. There’s shape shifting, speaking with animals, playing with lightning, telepathy, and more. I especially liked the bond with animals that most of the characters had. While the animals don’t talk back per se, they do respond to conversational questions, prompts, and commands. You can really tell a lot about a character in how they treat animals and that idea isn’t lost on Ailani.

My one little criticism for this story is that there are so few female characters. There’s princess Momi, who has a spark to her but is basically a love interest. Then there is Ailani’s mother who we catch glimpses of. She might have her own personal agenda or her nature may simply be to be a selfish and manipulative; we saw so little of her it’s hard to say which it is. I was most impressed with the daughter of the chief navigator; he’s training her to walk in his footsteps one day. Then there was an old lady selling fruit at market… and I do believe that was it for female characters. The story would have been enhanced by using some female characters to move the plot along instead of having them all be minor characters.

The story makes great use of the setting. This is one of those books where the setting is nearly a character unto itself based on how much it affects the story line. The Hawaiian culture is on full display. I loved that travel times between islands were realistic. I also had fun trying to guess what century this tale was set in. The islands have pigs, goats, and dogs so I was guessing perhaps this story takes place in the 1700s or 1800s.

Starting with some sibling rivalry to kick us off, the story build and builds. The unleashed curse isn’t initially a big deal but later it does become so. I loved learning alongside Ailani how this balance of nature and magic, or good and evil, of traditional ways and outside influences all tied together in the final burst of action. I really didn’t know how things would turn out for Ailani, Momi, and Nahoa and I was on my seat’s edge as I finished this book. The ending was satisfying but also left me ready for the next adventure in Volume 2.

As an aside, the publisher and/or author have a great website set up for this book that includes study guides, a glossary, and a map. They really went all out in making this book a great pick for a class read complete with activities and quizzes built into the study guides.

Narration: Rayton Lamay was such a perfect pick for this book. I really felt submerged in to the Hawaiian culture with his narration. While I’m no expert on Hawaiian accents, he maintained a consistent accent throughout the entire book. He was also great at keeping all the characters distinct and his female voices were believable. He was wonderful at imbuing Ailani with the appropriate emotions. (Susan Voss, DabOfDarkness, December 21, 2016)

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The story unfolds nicely. The characters are more than one-dimensional figures

The Kingdom of Oceana (Volume 1) is worth a read. The story unfolds nicely. The characters are more than one-dimensional figures. The action will keep you reading! (Book Reader 1, December 13, 2016)

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This book was mesmerizing!

Author Mitchell Charles has woven a fantastical tale of sibling rivalry, magic, and triumph in his new book, The Kingdom of Oceana. Set five centuries ago in what is now known as the Hawaiian Isles, this story tells a page-turning tale of a teenage prince, Ailani, and his older brother, Nahoa.

After trespassing on land that is strictly forbidden, the brothers stumble across an old tiki mask. This sets the stage for a waterfall of events which happen at lightning speed. A peaceful kingdom soon becomes at risk of war, until a plague of cursed sea creatures changes the direction of the conflict and causes potential enemies to unite against a common foe.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Being the nerd that I am, I absolutely loved the intricate details about the lore of this culture, the pain-stakingly exhaustive description of the landforms, and the glossary of Hawaiian words included at the end of the book. I know more now about the geography and legends of this beautiful land than I ever could have possibly learned in school.

On top of that, about halfway through the book I reached a point where I was literally on the edge of my seat and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. In fact, as I read the last page, I remember thinking, This can’t be the end. I want more!

And that’s not all.

As a homeschool mom, I was absolutely giddy with excitement when I saw the study guides that are available as a supplement to this outstanding book. Not only are there stunning photos of relevant Hawaiian landscape, but these study guides also cover literature, humanities, history, and earth science.

Even now my heart is beating fast as I think about the fact that this entire set comprises a unit study I can use with my kids!

I can not tell you enough times how highly I recommend this book and these study guides. I cannot wait to jump into this with my kids. (Shelly, December 11, 2016)

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Great unit study for homeschool setting

My son and I read this book as we were learning about the Hawaiian islands. Other reviews have given the basic premise of the book but I want to point out the book comes with a website that has an amazing resources to help further understand the Hawaiian islands, geography and wildlife. My son and I were able to make a complete unit study for our homeschool using the book which has a great, interesting story and the website which gave us great additional resources that we could explore. The 2 study guides offered up discussion questions, activities even offered up a mini quiz! Check out the website and this neat resource as a companion to this book […] (Martin Cox, December 11, 2016)

Vivid and Magical!

The descriptions given about the island made the book feel so magical in a way. I could almost hear the waves and see the amazing tropical sights for myself as I listened to the book and it had this certain air about it that made me feel almost as if I was in Hawaii myself which I thought was so great. Everything was so vivid and detailed with the descriptions of the ocean, coral reefs, the animal life and even simple things such as the boats people used and the surfboards. The writing was absolutely amazing and did a great job of really bringing the setting to life as the story unfolded. I also learned a little more about the culture and mythology which I loved.

I really loved all of the characters so much, especially our main character Ailani. Although the two brothers were young, they were mature for their ages and knew their duties. Of course, that didn’t stop them from getting on each other’s nerves. They were smart boys and were eager to learn more about their responsibilities as princes while having fun every now and then like siblings do. They were adventurous and quick learners, quick thinkers, and ready for the challenges they faced as the story moved forward.

The magical elements in this book were so fun and the author did a great job of bringing light and dark magic, the curses, and the mythology to life and blending them so beautifully together. The way the magic worked was so intriguing and the magical items that helped the characters were interesting and had entertaining origins and it was fun discovering them. I also loved the intense action scenes sprinkled in the book. It made the story more exciting and had me on the edge a few times. Not only that but the narrator did a great job of reading the story and his accent really added to the cultural experience of the book. The audio was so relaxing and almost melodic at times.

The only reason I didn’t give this book a five-star rating is while I loved everything about the book, I did have a problem with the pace of the story at times. Certain scenes I wished had been a little longer to avoid feeling a little rushed. (Anissa Musquiz, The Bookroom Central, December 4, 2016)

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and we learned a great deal about Hawaii

The Kingdom of Oceana is a lovely read. The story is intriguing, the characters charming, and we learned a great deal about Hawaii. We found ourselves unable to put the book down; reading it in one afternoon. (Buster B., December 1, 2016)

A work of art from beginning to end.

Every once in a while, we discover a book filled not only with exciting adventures, but something new to be learned. This month, we had the privilege of receiving one such read and we’re excited to share it with you.

A fictional story set in Hawaii, The Kingdom of Oceana, tells about 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa who trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, unleashing a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise. 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.

What We Liked… The Kingdom of Oceana is a lovely read. The story is intriguing, the characters charming, and we learned a great deal about Hawaii. We found ourselves unable to put the book down; reading it in one afternoon.

What We Loved… The beautifully illustrated front cover is not to be missed. Also highly appreciated were the study guides which accompany The Kingdom of Oceana. This is obviously a work of the heart and it shows.

And What We’d Change… Nothing! This was a work of art from beginning to end. We look forward to reading more Mitchell Charles in the near future.

To learn more about The Kingdom of Oceana, and Hawaii, visit the WEBSITE filled with helpful learning pages and guides. You can also read the first chapter of The Kingdom of Oceana, or listen to the audio chapter.

One day we hope to visit Hawaii for ourselves. What a blessing it would be to see all the places mentioned in the book and give God the glory for His wonderful creation. Until then, we’re blessed to enjoy exciting books which take us to another place and encourage imagination. (Cristina Grau, TheHomeSchoolMomBlog, November 28, 2016)

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If you like fantasy, shape shifters, and magic, The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles is for you.

It’s the story of two teenage brothers who are the definition of sibling rivalry. There is always competition between them at play. But their sibling rivalry goes from playful to menacing when the brothers accidentally release a centuries’ old curse. In order to save their island, they must reverse the curse. So they set off on an epic journey to save their beloved tropical home. The brothers’ rivalry isn’t contained by their quest to be their island’s hero, it extends to romance and who will become the next king. However, there can only be one home town hero.

Author Mitchell Charles weaves a tale that has numerous twists and turns. He includes Hawaiian words (and footnotes for definition sake!). There is a sea of animals (alive and…otherwise) that will make you gasp as they lunge towards the characters. The descriptions of the tropical paradise will have you itching to make a trip to the nearest beach.

The way Mitchell Charles tells this story really draws readers in. The characters are well developed. Within the first three pages, the suspense and adventure takes off. Both continue even after the end of the last chapter. There were no gaps in his storytelling.

If you have a reader that likes a good fantasy book, but you are looking to add a new one to their collection, grab The Kingdom of Oceana. It’s engaging, fun, and full of suspense. You can follow Mitchell Charles on Twitter and Facebook. (Bethany Armstrong, Book Review Mama, November 26, 2016)

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Wonderful!

A long time ago, before Hawaii was known as Hawaii, Islanders lived on the island and had sacred beliefs. Young Prince Ailani and his older brother Nahoa trespass on an ancient burial ground and find a tiki mask that contains dark powers. Nahoa covets the masks, while Ailani resists it. The mask is left alone, but its evil has been awakened.

Ailani is training to find his spirit animal. During this time, his father the King takes Ailani and Nahoa to visit a neighboring Island where they meet Princess Momi, but there are secrets on the island, secrets breaking sacred vows.

Now a war between good and evil is rising and Ailani is caught in the middle of it. He must fight off cursed sea creatures and possessed people to fight against the magic of the tiki and save his island and the princess.

My Thoughts-
I really loved this book and I’m going to tell you right off that I’m giving it 5 stars! It was such a refreshing story full of new folklore and characters, for me at least. Readers will be captured by Ailani, a true hero with a heart of gold. He struggles to grow into his princehood and to stand up to a brother who is a tyrant. He is full of courage and fights for what he knows is true and just.

The other aspect I love is the setting. The islands are a wealth of treasure and literary fun. The people’s life and traits are so different than ours that I soaked everything in, enjoying the diversity and culture. There was so much to see, it was a pleasure for the senses. The author also includes footnotes with definitions of island words.

I highly recommend this book to young readers. Adventure, magic, battles and young love- all in one amazing book. (Dorine White, November 20, 2016)

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A fantastic kid novel that the whole family could enjoy!

When you first pick up a book the cover is the thing that catches your attention. The Kingdom of Oceana has a colorful, bright, and catching cover that instantly drew me in. Mitchel Charles, author, also has a great writing style that flows smoothly to keep me interested as the story progressed.

The story follows Prince Ailani and his brother as they go through many moments of growth and spiritual exercises to find their spirit animals, escape a fate for their entire community and find out what love feels like. So many things go on in The Kingdom of Oceana, but it doesn’t come off as overwhelming. I loved how the two brothers both have very different personalities and it stands true to real life where sometimes you have to learn to work with people very unlike yourself for the greater good. I feel the one downfall of this book was the reading. Because it is a Hawaiian based speech there were many words I was unfamiliar with. The author did offer a glossary of words with meanings, but a lot of them I was unaware of how to even read them. This would be even more difficult for some of the kids that may read this book. Other than the few words spread throughout the book that are harder to read, this book was a joy to read. It had an intriguing and wholesome message woven throughout the story and an ending that left most happy, although there were a few that didn’t get such a great finale.

I would recommend The Kingdom of Oceana to anyone wanting an easy ready with a meaningful message and likable, relatable characters. This book is not just for kids. Parents and youth alike would all enjoy this book. A solid 4 out of 5 stars for Mitchell Charles’ The Kingdom of Oceana. (Kristin Downer, NerdProbs, November 18, 2016)

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The characters and conflict had me from the beginning.

I picked up KOA because I love adventure, mythology, stories of Polynesia that remind me of our planet’s immense combination of vulnerability and power. Within a few pages, I had stepped into a fully imagined world set in a magical version of the Pacific Islands. The characters and conflict had me from the beginning. It’s not a spoiler to say that this story sets up a clash between two brothers hurdling toward a resolution that does not disappoint. I cannot wait to read the next books (just seems they must be written) and re-enter this exciting world. (Elizabeth, November 14, 2016)

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Every word seemed to be chosen with care

I don’t usually read young adult novels. What caught my attention about this one was the setting. I had never read a book set in Hawaii. That and the inclusion of magic made for an interesting story.

I was surprised how well written this story was. The author did a great job making the world come alive with vivid setting details. Every word seemed to be chosen with care to make it easy for me to visualize what was happening and where the characters were.

About the plot

Nahoa and Ailani went to some ruins and found a tiki. Nahoa (the older brother) attacked Ailani. Ailani believed the tiki did something to Nahoa. This is the first problem for Ailani. Then, Ailani has to deal with his father’s determination to make alliances with surrounding kingdoms. His father wanted him and Nahoa to go with him to Pearl Island to meet with a king. First, though, Nahoa and Ailani had to get prepared by going through a test to see which animal spirits would choose them. This ended up creating an identity problem for Ailani. Problem number two. Once in Pearl Island, Nahoa learned that someone did something terrible to the sharks. He also learned that Pearl Island was under a curse. On top of those two problems, Ailani also had to deal with his attraction to King Lako’s daughter. The rest of the story is about Ailani trying to fix all of these problems.

About the characters

All the characters were sufficiently developed for the length of the story. I felt I got to know each of them enough to either hate or love them. Ailani, the main character, was likable because he took everything that happened seriously. He whined a little bit too much for my taste, but I can’t complain about that because I have to keep in mind that he was only sixteen years old.

His family members were somewhat one-dimensional. I felt the author played up their negative qualities too much, without showing me anything that redeemed them. For example, there was nothing to like about Ailani’s mother, and I couldn’t believe that she was all bad. If she was, Ailani would have hated her, and I didn’t get that feeling from him. So, there must have been something good about her that made him continue to try to earn her affection. I would have liked to have known what he saw in her.

About the pacing

For the most part, the story moved along quickly. My main complaint is that some of the scenes did nothing to advance the plot. For example, there is a long passage about Nahoa and Ailani surfing. Although it was written well, I was bored because it served no purpose in the big picture.

About the prose, style, etc.

As I said in my introduction, Mitchell Charles wrote very well. However, there were some times in the book when I felt he could have shown me what was going on rather than telling me. For example, when he said, “small children who looked malnourished,” I would have preferred a description of the children because I didn’t know what made them appear malnourished, considering undernourishment and hunger are not necessarily the same thing. A person can be malnourished without being skinny; it depends on the person’s diet.

I didn’t like the use of footnotes. I found them distracting. I think a glossary of terms would have been better, considering this was a work of fiction.

I also didn’t like that a lot of the words seemed too modern for the time period.

Overall opinion of THE KINGDOM OF OCEANA

If you are looking for a different kind of young adult story, I recommend reading THE KINGDOM OF OCEANA. It has the typical coming-of-age angst and sibling rivalry a reader would expect, but adds in magical abilities, curses, and superstition. I give it four stars (a B) for strong imagery and a cohesive plot. (Jennifer Schaper, Books that Hook, November 14, 2016)

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I can’t say enough good things about this book.

Imagine the beautiful island of Hawaii 500 years before it was ever known by that name. Imagine a world at one with nature and all that belongs to it. Imagine a place of unimaginable warmth and beauty.

Welcome to The Kingdom of Oceana…

Have you ever wished you could escape your daily life just for a little while to visit someplace magical? Recently I’ve had the privilege to do just that.

Author Mitchell Charles has woven a fantastical tale of sibling rivalry, magic, and triumph in his new book, The Kingdom of Oceana. Set five centuries ago in what is now known as the Hawaiian Isles, this story tells a page-turning tale of a teenage prince, Ailani, and his older brother, Nahoa.

After trespassing on land that is strictly forbidden, the brothers stumble across an old tiki mask. This sets the stage for a waterfall of events which happen at lightning speed. A peaceful kingdom soon becomes at risk of war, until a plague of cursed sea creatures changes the direction of the conflict and causes potential enemies to unite against a common foe.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Being the nerd that I am, I absolutely loved the intricate details about the lore of this culture, the pain-stakingly exhaustive description of the landforms, and the glossary of Hawaiian words included at the end of the book. I know more now about the geography and legends of this beautiful land than I ever could have possibly learned in school.

On top of that, about halfway through the book I reached a point where I was literally on the edge of my seat and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. In fact, as I read the last page, I remember thinking, This can’t be the end. I want more!

And that’s not all.

As a homeschool mom, I was absolutely giddy with excitement when I saw the study guides that are available as a supplement to this outstanding book. Not only are there stunning photos of relevant Hawaiian landscape, but these study guides also cover literature, humanities, history, and earth science.

Even now my heart is beating fast as I think about the fact that this entire set comprises a unit study I can use with my kids!

I can not tell you enough times how highly I recommend this book and these study guides. I cannot wait to jump into this with my kids.

And if that’s not enough, Mitchell Charles is donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book to the Oceanic Society.

Now is the perfect time to escape the looming cold weather to enter this magical place and glimpse a world unlike any you’ve seen before.

Aloha! (Shelly Sangray, November 5, 2016)

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Fun Journey

Fun journey through a fictional and magical Hawaii of old. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes next. (Douglas J. Robertson, October 30, 2016)

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Mitchell made me visualize the setting so well, I now feel like I have been there.

Normally I do not read young adult novels during the school year, but the cover of this novel had me intrigued.

I have yet to take an adventure to Hawaii, but after reading this novel, and the way Mitchell made me visualize the setting so well, I now feel like I have been there. The novel does not only a wonderful job of introducing and immersing you into the setting, but it also teaches you so many things about the setting. Mitchell’s footnotes did an excellent job of clarifying indigenous words, phrases and culture.

I thought the story line of the tiki and the on and off conflict of the brothers was interesting and continued to pull me into the novel.

I am excited for others to be able to read this story, which served not only as an exciting, adventurous story, but a window for me into a world I wasn’t that familiar with. I look forward what is to come from Mitchell and this series in the future. (Scott Fillner, October 28, 2016)

A thoroughly entertaining read

An inherently interesting and consistently compelling novel from first page to last, “The Kingdom of Oceana” clearly demonstrates the exceptionally skillful storytelling talents of author Mitchell Charles. A thoroughly entertaining read, “The Kingdom of Oceana” is highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. (James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book Review, October 9, 2016)

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A gripping story

Okay, first of all my initial response to review this book was based on the fact that the setting takes place on an island in Hawaii. I have always wanted to go there. My son was excited about the book because it’s a mystery and he loves them. This book is basically a movie written in book form. It takes you to an island where you are expecting a more serene outcome but no it has an adventure all it’s own.

When Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on forbidden burial ground things start to take a turn for the worse. When the brothers come across this terrifying situation they face it and they keep fighting to overcome the rivals that threaten Prince Ailani’s rightful place as future king of this beautiful island.

With so much going on how can two young boys fight off such powerful forces that threaten their very lives? Not to mention that love is written in the stars for one of them.

A gripping story that is situated perfect for middle schoolers. It has intrigue, suspense, mystery and thread of romance running through it. The author’s story line is strong and the story has really rich, vivid characters. (Jalynn Patterson, October 7, 2016)

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the rivalry, oh, it was a symphony on paper

Summary: Prince Aliani and his brother Nahoa are sons of a king and basically, the book starts off with a late-night adventure of sorts, which turns into them accidentally awaking this big curse or spell. After that, they travel to King Lako’s kingdom, which I forget the name of, but all you need to know is that their currency is pearls, and pearls are valuable. They need supplies, so they get helped by a store vendor. Later, they join their father and King for a meeting, which is when things start to get noticed. Like the fact that the alchemist for King Lako is using whale blubber from whales to power the lamps. Or princess Momi, who is extremely beautiful and a crazy surfer. But after King Lako wants his kingdom and Aliani’s father’s kingdom to merge, things start to get crazy. Like 1000 year old curses shaky. It’s hard to explain without giving the whole book away, but I’ll I’m putting out there is you’re going to want to see what happens.

What I Liked: So before I write the things I liked, I feel it is important to put this one sentence disclaimer. I’m not really sure if it’s a legality if I have to, but better be safe than sorry. So. *Ahem* DISCLAIMER: This book was sent to me for a discounted or free cost in exchange for my completely honest and unbiased review *exhales* Ok, moving on, one thing I really would like to point out is that I enjoyed the book very holistically. Meaning, I enjoyed the overall sense the book gave me. It was pretty satisfying to just read the book, although explaining what that means would be hard, so just take my word, overall the book was a good read. Another thing I’d like to point out is how Mitchell Charles incorporates this brotherly rivalry between Prince Aliani and Nahoa with princess Momi. The relationship, and the rivalry, oh, it was a symphony on paper.

What I didn’t like: As this is unbiased, I can’t rave about the book without stating some flaws I came about. For one thing, I don’t know if it was me, but the start was just confusing, which was probably why the rising action and climax made no sense. I skimmed through the first half of the book because it made zero sense. I’m not sure why I didn’t understand it but I didn’t. That said, I understood enough to at least follow along and thoroughly enjoy the ending. Another thing I’d like to mention is the incorporation of Hawaiian words. I did like learning some more vocabulary than aloha but it’s like if  I replaced fifty terms and words in your favorite novel with the equivalent in Dutch or something similar but not quite English, just because that’s where it took place. It got a little tedious to see the word “wa’a” think about it, and then comprehend they’re talking about boats instead of just seeing the word boat and moving on. Also, this didn’t bother me as much but THE EPILOGUE!!! Ah, I could rant about it so much, but I’m just going to saw it was way to short (ok so maybe it did bother me). (Justin Talks Books, October 5, 2016)

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…a very enjoyable read and nice introduction to Hawaii and its culture

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. There are many descriptions of 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. (Brenda, Log Cabin Library, September 14, 2016)

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Beautiful and enchanting tale of two brothers

Hawaii is one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit, but admittedly I didn’t know much about it until reading The Kingdom of Oceana. I know it’s a state, that the word aloha can be used for hello or goodbye, and that the land was formed from volcanic activity. Literally, most of the exposure I’ve had to the islands are through movies like Lilo & Stitch and 50 First Dates. Yeah I know, that’s pretty sad.

The author’s beautiful way of describing the setting made me feel like I was there and I learned a lot through the novel and corresponding study guides. I even learned more about the language, so now when my husband makes me mad me I can call him an omo and he’ll be none the wiser. Sorry honey!

All of the characters were really well developed and I enjoyed the underlying theme of sibling rivalry. Of course, the conflict between Prince Nahoa and Prince Ailani went far beyond the usual brotherly quarrel. Nahoa just assumed he would be king because he was born first, but he didn’t have any of the qualities that make a good leader; he was too arrogant, prideful, and not entirely dependable. Ailani really took to heart their culture and the teachings from his father and the Kahuna (a holy priest or sorcerer), and proved to be brave, kind, and strong.

I’m a sucker for romance, so I was excited by the introduction of Princess Momi from Pearl Island. This was another source of strain between Ailani and Nahoa, because they were both immediately smitten with her. I loved that she was such a free spirit and had a passion for adventure. It was hard to know if it would lead anywhere, since her father, King Lako, was of questionable ethics and did not seem opposed to going to war in a quest for ruling not only Pearl Island but the Great Island as well.

There are quite a few unfamiliar Hawaiian words introduced, but the author made it very easy to identify them while reading by including foot notes. There is also a glossary of all of these words at the end, so you can always reference that as well. As I mentioned before, there are also study guides available that give a crash course in everything from the mythology and culture of Hawaii to geographical and climate information. They include some very interesting information and intriguing pictures, as well as discussion questions and a quiz to gauge what you have learned.

Right from the beginning I was enthralled by The Kingdom of Oceana, and thought about how much I wished a novel like this could have been part of our required reading in middle or high school. It would have held my attention a lot more than the other books we were forced to read, that’s for sure. The writing was smooth, the entire novel was elegantly worded, and while the author did use a lot of descriptive phrases to paint a picture for the readers, it was beautiful and I didn’t feel at all like it was overdone. I was sad when I reached the final page, but the good news is that this is to be a series! I’m not sure if book two will center around the same characters, but I am excited to see what author Mitchell Charles comes up with next! (Jamie Kline – Lucky Devil Reviews, August 20, 2016)

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Kingdom of Oceana is a fun story set on an amazing cultural and scientific backdrop

Prince Ailani, our hero in Kingdom of Oceana, is a fine kid. He’s nice to his elders, nice to people on the street, and really nice to the girl of his dreams. He’s a fun sort of guy. His brother Nahoa is a terror, and so the sides were established from the very first page. Honestly, I would have liked more subtlety on this front, but the theme of sibling rivalry was hard-hitting in this one.

I loved the scenes in Pearl City. The description and plot was awesome in these sections of the book, and I loved (of course) the character of the princess. I also got a lot out of these scenes as an armchair sociologist. They really helped me get a feel for the progression of the islands, and some of the mixed views on whaling.

Kingdom of Oceana is a fun story set on an amazing cultural and scientific backdrop. I really enjoyed learning some facts about Hawaiian culture and history, and all of the vocabulary was in the glossary, so it was easy to learn what words meant. I enjoyed Ailani’s quest, but I enjoyed the scenery more.

Classroom Applications:

This book is almost too good to be true as far as classroom applications go. What a gold mine!

The publisher sent me two study guides for this book (they are now available on the website), one for Humanities and one for Earth Science. These are amazing tools that will really help teachers implement this book across content areas for an integrated experience.

Both study guides break down into topics, with passages from the book to support exploration of each area. Here’s an example progression:

  1. Volcanoes
  2. Text about volcanoes, lava, and the formation of the Hawaiian islands
  3. Five text-based discussion questions connecting science, history, and the book
  4. Extension activities for the science classroom

This study guide has nine topics total, and a summative quiz at the end.

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading the Kingdom of Oceana, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to middle school teachers. (Danielle, August 17, 2016)

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I highly recommend this book for old dudes like me and I think pre-teen and teen readers would really love this one too

I really enjoyed this book. It was so cool for so many reasons and a really fun story as well. First off the book takes place in ancient Hawaii. You get to met a couple of princes. Ailani and his brother Nahoa. They are constantly at odds with each other. They were very much their own awesome fleshed out characters. I loved the protagonist Ailani and loved to hate his jerk brother Nahoa. From the Amazon Page description these brothers: ” 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.”

It’s a wild adventure from there. You get to meet tons of awesome characters. Some of them are animals a select few characters can speak to with magic. Some of them are powerful magicians. Others are nice village people and love interests. All of them were interesting and added to the story in great ways.

I really liked the way the king of the main island described, the father of the brother’s , was written. It was cool to see the way he led his people compared to the way another king led his people with avarice. There was always a lot at stake for the characters and their kingdoms and that tension just got raised more and more as the story progressed.

The magic in this YA Hawaiian fantasy story was really cool. There was light magic, and shadow magic, and another kind that was used while trying to balance the two. The way it worked was really intriguing and fun to read about. There were magical items that helped the characters too and their origins and powers were really entertaining to discover.

There were a lot of really intense action scenes in this book too. I would have been scared out of my mind if I had to attempt what the characters do in this book. They made for great really exciting scenes. There were many great fight scenes and also a lot of fun adventure scenes where the characters were in danger from the land, the sea, or the creatures around them.

There were also a few really cool scenes describing surfing, rock climbing, and sailing that I really enjoyed. The author does a great job describing the cool things the characters do and the beautiful and scary places they do them. I highly recommend this book for old dudes like me and I think pre-teen and teen readers would really love this one too. (Dan Absalonson, August 8, 2016)

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riveting adventure kept me wanting to read more

Though I don’t normally read this genre, the sample had me hooked. As I really began reading the book, I found that the riveting adventure kept me wanting to read more. The descriptive language made the story come alive on the ancient Hawaiian Islands. There was a sense of urgency as the adventure of Ailani continued on, making me want to find out more. When I got to the ending, I wanted to know what was going to happen next, the sign of a truly energizing adventure.

I really appreciate that the author gave the reader definitions of Hawaiian words to help us all along.

This book is perfect for middle schoolers and parents like me who enjoy a great adventure! (Andrea Crawford, July 29, 2016)

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The magical elements of the book weave seamlessly into the story and Hawaiian backdrop, enforcing the myth-like tale

Legend and folklore come alive as Prince Ailani and his brother Nohoa accidentally unleash a curse when they stumble upon a tiki mask. Set five centuries ago in what we now call Hawaii, The Kingdom of Oceana follows Prince Ailani as he finds himself amongst the chaos of warring island kingdoms, sibling rivalry, spirit animals, and sorcerers. The magical elements of the book weave seamlessly into the story and Hawaiian backdrop, enforcing the myth-like tale.

Middle School students will enjoy the action and lore while also identifying with Prince Ailani’s underlying struggles.

Two study guides are also available for the book. One study guide focuses on the science behind the story from volcanos to the formation of the islands themselves – great for building basic background knowledge for students who do not know much about the Hawaiian area. The second study guide dives into Hawaiian culture, mythology, literary devices, and provides an overview of the hero’s journey – a handy resource for both teachers and students. (Magy, July 27, 2016)

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…adventure, adversity, legend, love, and suspense and it all builds up to a surprising ending.

The Kingdom of Oceana is based on the Hawaiian Islands five centuries ago. Prince Ailani is the second born to the king of the Big Island and Ailani has always assumed that his older brother, Nohoa, will become the next king. The brothers are typical brothers with the older one picking on the younger one.

It is easy to envision the beautiful Hawaiian setting as this story unfolds. The author does a great job of describing it. There are also Hawaiian myths and legends included which makes it more interesting.

The Kingdom of Oceana begins with Ailani and Nohoa unleashing a centuries old curse but there are also tensions building between the island kingdoms, as well as odd occurrences in the ocean. With so much happening, and the kingdom needing all the warriors they can get, the princes are sent on a vision quest to find their spirit animals. The brothers help each other but there is even more tension between them now that there is a princess whom they both like. There’s adventure, adversity, legend, love, and suspense and it all builds up to a surprising ending.

The narrator choice was a good one. The story is told from Ailani’s POV and the narrator has the perfect accent for it (whether it’s real or not, it’s perfect).

I definitely recommend this book for middle school readers and older. I think adults will like it as much as the younger readers.

Just a couple of days ago, I was sent study guides that go along with this book. They are great! One is titled Earth Science and the other Humanities. Both contain a lot of information about the Hawaiian Islands, discussion questions for classes, and even some multiple choice questions. These would make great resources for a class studying Hawaii and the book could be tied into the studies as well. (Dawn Joplin, MO, July 26, 2016)

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Beautiful Book

The Kingdom of Oceana is a young adult historical fiction novel based in what is today Hawaii. This novel is outside of the usual genres I read. I do read historical fiction quite a bit, but usually novels set in Britain or the Eastern U.S. I haven’t before read any novels taking place in Polynesia.

I loved the cover art and the very tropical and flowing feel of the prose. Mitchell Charles gives beautiful descriptions of the landscapes. He also gives a convincing description of how life back then. There was a fair amount of magical realism throughout the novel. Enough so that is was a central part of the novel but was still integrated well into the storyline.

Charles focuses the story on Prince Ailani and his rivalry with his older brother, Prince Nahoa. The story reads almost as if it is a Kane and Abel parable with Ailani as the good brother and Nahoa as the evil brother. There is also a little romance in the story but is not the main focus of the book.

I did enjoy this book and it’s very tropical feel. I would definitely recommend to readers who are looking for a good Hawaiian or Polynesian history story. I would definitely read another installment if this becomes a series. (Karen @ The Book Return Blog, July 13, 2016)

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I liked the history and culture this brought to the novel

This story has a bit of everything: adventure, fantasy, romance, and mystery. I tend not to select stories for myself that fall into the fantasy genre. Made up creatures, spirit animals, and sorcery don’t really appeal to me. I’m more of a realistic fiction gal. However, this story had my attention. What I really thought was unique was the use of the Hawaiian language. Throughout the story more than 30 Hawaiian words are introduced. I liked the history and culture this brought to the novel.

The action and adventure kept up through the entire story. From the first few pages to the end, something exciting was happening. From surfing adventures to fight scenes, curses, ocean spirit animals, ancient mystery and romance this story has it all.

Because of the use of Hawaiian language and some other vocabulary I would say this story would be ideal for high level grade 4 students through to about grade 8. However, students older than than looking for a faster read would enjoy it too. I’ve a few students in mind that will love this book and once school begins again, I will be sure to pass it their way. ( Angela Gatt, July 9, 2016)

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Good reading

Set in a world where myth, spirit animals and magic exists, the islands in this story are like the Hawaiian Islands. I’ve visited Hawaii several times and love the beautiful plants and the people there. This story took me right back there.

While this tale is written for young adults, it was an interesting read for an adult, too. Mr. Charles knows the islands and the folklore and he creates a story that holds your attention and keeps you wondering which Prince is right. His writing style is smooth and light even with the horrors this story has.

There are two Princes who have been competing with each other since birth. Their personalities are very different and the older one is intent on becoming King. The younger one assumes he’ll get it because he’s the oldest, so he doesn’t see what the problem is. It will become apparent before long. He doesn’t know the family loyalties are split.

This is a tale of right and wrong. The King is trying to partner with the near island so if they are invaded, they will fight together to survive. The Princess likes the youngest brother best but ends up being betrothed to the oldest. There’s a dangerous tiki, another Kahuna, and even Zombies before you get to the end. The King on the other island has an alchemist and they are slaughtering whales for the oil. That’s against local custom. How can he be stopped?

Full of legends with a touch of history, this tale is interesting and you get an island feel. Would you be brave enough to fight the undead and your brother both? (Aloe, Long and Short YA Reviews, June 6, 2016)

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…refreshing read

The Kingdom of Oceana is a perfect book to accompany a historical study of ancient cultures of the Pacific and a terrific way to incorporate literature into the social studies curriculum, thus providing a focus for critical Common Core Standards. It is also a book to introduce middle school students to the importance of a book’s setting, again a critical Common Core Standard. Filled with names, vocabulary, animals, and customs that are related to the setting the book opened my eyes to the ancient world of the Pacific peoples. I can envision middle school students fascinated by the words of the text made curious to research to learn more about this unique time and place.  To learn a little more about this book and some of the cultural information or to read an excerpt, please visit this website.

Since I enjoyed this read so much I plan on using it as the first read aloud when we return to school after summer break. It will fit perfectly with the other books I’ve chosen for my class to read; they are about adventure and survival in conflict with a wilderness setting. While The Kingdom of Oceana has a much different setting than the others, its theme is so similar that it will be perfect for comparing and contrasting important literary elements. (Angela A. Ackley, The Teacher’s Desk 6, June 5, 2016)

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Tiki Terror!

Charles’ Kingdom of Oceana is a charming coming of age story focusing on Ailani, gifted with a sensitivity to magick, and his far more headstrong brother Nahoa, who sees only the base world and not what lies beneath. Nahoa is mischievous, and often that mischief is laced with a touch of hidden malice.

In the beginning, the brothers head to a forbidden ruin, where they find a creepy tiki statue that seems to possess Nahoa. He denies it later, but while under the tiki’s influence, he tried to push his brother off a cliff. Fun times. After the pair return home, they discover their father is back, and will take his sons on his next visit to Pearl Island.

Before this, though, the boys must undergo a sort of vision quest ritual. Once on Pearl Island, Ailani uncovers a terrible crime, one so anathema to his people, his brother, and Momi, daughter of King Lako, that they refuse to believe it at first. Ailani and his family are forced to flee Pearl Island. On the way back to the Great Island, the Kahuna with them takes the brothers to the place where tribespeople go to find their spirit animals, saying that it was necessary for the coming days.

The spirit journeys herald a danger far greater than even that which they uncovered on Pearl Island. Ailani, and the Kahuna’s apprentice Puhi go on a secret mission to hopefully put an end to one danger. It succeeds to a degree, but things aren’t quite finished. Ailani must go alone to a forsaken ruin to retrieve the artifact corrupting the land.

I absolutely loved the cover! It fit the story perfectly. That’s a pet peeve of mine, when covers don’t reflect the story within. Each chapter has a footnotes section at the end, listing the Hawaiian words and phrases used, which is something I really appreciated. With the Kindle, I just needed to click the footnote number and the footnote text for that word to get the meaning.

I loved the orca scene when Ailani and Nahoa were being taken to the whale carcass The hunt scene was very visual; felt like I was there. And the orca coming up by boat to look at Ailani. Beautiful!

I found the dialogue stilted at times, and there was far more showing than telling. This was a good story. It would be an absolutely great one if some major tweaking with the showing/telling were done. There were a few grammar/spelling mistakes, but that did not detract from my enjoyment at all.

All that being said, I found the prose beautiful, and quite poetic in places. Even with the showing/telling issue, I still enjoyed the description of things- the vision quest, the journey to find the spirit animals, King Lako and his personality.

I found this to be a very readable and engaging story, and perfect for its target age group. Recommended if you enjoy alternate historical fiction, tales of the Hawaiian isles, or coming of age stories. (Aislynn, May 30, 2016)

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Brothers: Good vs. Evil

The Kingdom of Oceana takes the reader onto a journey that is full of adventure. Prince Ailani and his brother Prince Nahoa unleash an ancient curse that could destroy everything. While Prince Ailani takes his responsibilities seriously, his brother has other plans. The reader quickly begins to realize that not everything is as it seems with Nahoa.

Teaching Possibilities:

Inferencing

Foreshadowing

Context Clues

Citations

Traditional Hawaiian Culture

Students will love the sibling rivalry, spirit animals, magic, and coming of age situations. (The Knit Wit Teacher, May 27, 2016)

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Beautiful Island Story

Imagine a 16 year old growing up in the beautiful islands of Hawaii…. add a brother that helps you get into lots of trouble, and finally, unleash a cure that could destroy the kingdom you are suppose to be governing. For the princes of Oceana, it’s time to step up and find a way to stop what they started.

Filled with mythological beasts and beings, The Kingdom of Oceana is a coming of age story that shows off the beauty of the islands as well as its rich culture and legends. The characters are typical boys trying to be the best they can while still remaining typical teens. Lots of adventure and thrills, this is perfect for teen readers and even adults. (R.P. Blotzer, May 25, 2016)

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Great for Students who love Excitement, Surfing, and Zombie Fish!

Ailani is your normal 16-year old boy living on a Hawaiian island, except for the fact that he’s a prince. Oh, and it takes place when Hawaii is still just a conglomerate of tribes on islands in the Pacific. And did I mention that in addition to surfing and fire walking, he also has a sorcerer best friend who can shape-shift?

This was a fun read, although a bit predictable from a teacher’s standpoint. As I read, I had several of my student’s already in mind who will eat this up. I feel good about having it on my shelves, as it is not too violent or “scary,” yet it contains that fun zombie style-action that my students love.

You can read a more detailed review at elementsofelementary.blogspot. (Elements of Elementary, May 8, 2016)

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Great great book!

I was hooked from page 1! Really amazing storytelling! (Ted Perkins, May 2, 2016)

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A Must Read for All!

The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles is an intriguing and highly entertaining read. The story is beautifully told with lessons, planted deep into its enchanting plot. The characters are quite interesting. They come to life as well as their ancestral spirit animals and the danger that is brought upon them all. Inside this fascinating tale, readers will meet two brothers. Both do something that unleashes a curse onto their world. Adventure, exotic places and animals, as well as a unique culture, will drag readers head first into this novel. A journey every reader won’t want to miss. Hawaii is the most beautiful places to travel to and now readers can go there by following these two brothers as the danger builds and the tensions boil. Overall, I loved reading this engaging YA novel. The threat of a thousand-year-old curse mixed in with mythology is always exciting to read about especially if Mitchell Charles writes it. The talent from this writer is amazing. I look forward to reading more by Mitchell Charles in the future. (Danielle Urban, April 28, 2016)

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So exotic and deals with multiple important issues!

I was so excited when I opened this book and saw that it was autographed! I really love books based in Hawaii, or any books in genera that deal with islands or that are ocean themed. They really get me away from my small hometown surrounded by nothing but cornfields. For someone not really familiar with Hawaiian terms, Mitchell Charles has woven them into the book and included footnotes at the bottom of the pages that explained what the words meant.

I instantly fell in love with the exotic aspects, along with the magical elements. It’s an extremely fun book to read, along with some great lessons learned. All of the characters were well thought out. I especially disliked the mother and Nahoa, and I love books that can illicit negative emotions in me as well as positive ones. They make for an amazing story. I feel like this is a book everyone throughout middle school and up should read because it is just that good.

Mitchell Charles intricately weaves together magic, myths, issues about the environment, sibling rivalry, and neglect. I will definitely be reading future books written by him. (Sabbyon, April 27, 2016)

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Cool ancient Hawaiian MG-YA story

I enjoyed the Hawaiian tribe/island nation setting of the 1500’s with traditional lore, however having to check the asterisk for every word meaning detracted from the story somewhat for me personally, it was distracting. The story flowed well, the main character, Ailani, second born son of the king who just turned sixteen, is very level headed for his age, accepts counsel from the Kahuna (the king’s advisor) readily, and overall is a likable character. I felt bad for him concerning his horrible brother and bipolar acting mother, and she’s even worse because she’s mercurial with malicious intent. I wish Momi, the beautiful princess from a northern island, was more present, especially for the somewhat abrupt ending, it would’ve been nice to see what happens to her. The story was interesting enough that I want to know what happens next. (yaratr, April 23, 2016)

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I liked how the author weaves Hawaiian terms into the story, and helpfully defines them with footnotes

The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles is a young adult novel that takes place on Hawaii five centuries ago. It chronicles Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa, who must figure out how to restore peace in the Kingdom of Oceana after unintentionally unleashing a curse. I liked seeing the characters’ bravery and perseverance; when things get difficult, they look for solutions instead of running away.

I was initially attracted to this book because of its Hawaiian theme. The author weaves Hawaiian terms into the story, and helpfully defines them with footnotes. The book’s exotic setting – added to its fantasy and adventure elements – make it an exciting story. It’s a fun book. (Oak Tree, April 13, 2016)

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Wonderful Coming-of-Age Story

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.

My son is a HUGE mythology fan, so when I saw this book come across NetGalley the other day, I snagged it for him to try out. He has never studied Hawaiian mythology – but he truly loved the book. I read it myself, and loved it as well.

This was a fantastic book! It was much better than expected. I loved how it wove in the history and mythology, with a believable coming of age plot, and was at the interest level of my middle school students. I would like to have a hard copy of it, rather than the e-book version we read, just for the sake of being able to flip back to the Hawaiian dictionary whenever a new word popped up. But that’s the only thing that I’d change. I will be working to create a unit study around this book, and hope to see a sequel. (sportispice, March 21, 2016)

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This is a fantastic read and will thrill readers of all ages

Certain to be the next big thing!!!! Cant wait for more from Mr. Charles., (Brian W., March 21, 2016)

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Reader’s Favorite

The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles is a fun read. Right from page one, the story drew me in and kept me hooked all the way through. It is packed full of fun, adventure and mythology, all the stuff that makes a story well worth the read. The plot follows a twisting path through a beautiful tropical world, and Mitchell Charles’ use of descriptive language really brings the story alive. The characters were really well developed and there were a few real-world issues dealt with here – it isn’t just some fantastical make believe tale; there are a few lessons to be learned along the way. This book is a real page-turner, full of action and adventure, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I hope that there will be more books like this from Mitchell Charles in the future. (Anne-Marie Reynolds for Reader’s Favorite, March 9, 2016)

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Fantastic

This is a rollicking good read — a fascinating journey into a mythological world filled with legendary characters and magnificent twists and turns. The action comes alive in a fascinating tropical world filled with unexpected physical and emotional challenges that unfold chapter-by-chapter. I was pulled in from the first page. I highly recommend this book for anyone with a taste for an original page-turner — it does not disappoint. (DG, January 3, 2016)