It will take him a while to learn about mythology — and it’s a wonderful crash course for readers ... the latter half of the book shifts gears to the fast-burn thriller fans will be waiting for ... To describe Elizabeth Hand as a mystery writer is to not have read another Elizabeth Hand book. Over decades, she has proved that she’s eclectic, genre-bending, and comfortable in fantasy and mystery, crime, myth, magic — and more. In Hokuloa Road, she explores the rich and diverse culture and environment of Hawaii — and seamlessly stitches this fascinating material into a girl-gone-missing story. It’s refreshingly and originally creepy.
... [an] exciting, rich, thick verisimilitude ... There truly is nothing else like first-hand involvement with a milieu to foster authenticity, and Hand has obviously applied her keen author’s eye and sensibilities to capture the surface and subsurface reality of this land and culture. But the rest of the majestic allure of the book—which, beside being almost journalistically keen, is rife with thrilling supernatural events—can be traced to Hand’s well-known and previously displayed visionary powers, her remarkable way with words, and her ability to conjure up characters that the reader falls for, then to put them through thrilling events ... Swift-moving yet deliberate, establishing thick connections between the natural world and the numinous forces behind it.
What makes Elizabeth Hand’s books so captivating is that, like Simmons, she works myth, legend, folklore and other apocryphal stories into her mysteries, adding her own elements and tailoring weird myths and ancient knowledge to her stories. Not only does it bring depth and texture, it really dials up the creepiness ... The intrigue lies in working out how much of the horror is in Grady’s mind, how much is man’s inhumanity to man, and why is it happening ... With lava flows, cliffs, gulches and dense jungle, the island’s geography is treacherous – and as mentioned, the place feels like an active participant in the plot ... Hokuloa Road is a novel that works at many levels, but at its heart is Grady’s journey which heads to a gripping and deadly conclusion as he faces his demons, literally and figuratively. The finale isn’t quite as spectacular, jaw-dropping or complex as the build-up. However, the book is exemplary when it comes to constructing a world, an atmosphere and a belief system, with a plot and a fully fleshed-out setting that make it impossible to put down. A go-to chilling read, whether it’s hot or cold in your part of the world.
Full enjoyment of this book may depend on one’s tolerance for the supernatural element, mocked by hardcore mystery fans as 'the woo-woo factor.' Nonetheless, Hokuloa Road is a finely written thriller—a compelling adventure story set in a vivid location.
Horror collides with amateur sleuthing here as the island’s protective spirits seek justice for a predator’s crimes against its sacred space and its adopted people. Hand, author of the iconic 12 Monkeys, is a master at genre-blending stories that feature carefully dosed supernatural malevolence. Here, she wields that mix of horror and thriller to draw together a cast of sympathetically awkward, fiercely loyal outcasts. Another strange, satisfying winner.
... atmospheric if flawed ... The core story moves smoothly between Grady’s fears and the social moments that advance the plot, though Grady’s past trauma comes up several times without payoff, and the emotional aspects of the relationship between Grady and Jessica’s best friend stay unsatisfyingly off-screen. Hand neatly balances tense action with rich environmental ambience, and the supernatural with the darkly human. She remains a writer to watch.