Song of the Mokihana
In this South Sea adventure novel set during World War I, a Chinese-owned sailing vessel is captured by a mixed Caucasian-Hawaiian while plying a somewhat illicit trade in the South Pacific. The captain’s troubles are compounded by a mutinous first mate, a superstitious and divided crew, dangerous reefs, German raiders, a beautiful woman (also biracial), and all the tensions of trying to conduct trade in a region torn by war.
The author nicely presents a picture of the societal structure of the era – the shipboard dynamics and the European attitudes toward the islanders are well-rendered. Matzenik also also demonstrates knowledge of sailing ships and of basic island vocabulary, although some judicious editing in the climactic chapters could have provided more credibility. For most readers, however, Song of the Mokihana will be a fast-moving story of adventure, deceit, love, jealousy suspicion and brutality in an unusual setting during a turbulent period of history