Cacy and Kiara and the Curse of the Kii

You don’t see many local chapter books for children published regularly, so anytime Misty and I come across one, we are always eager to see how well it stands up and helps advance the genre. Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Kiʻi by Roy Chang is an intense yet fun and humorous children’s novel that brings together Hawaiian geography, legends, themes and more.

In this thrilling adventure, two sixth-grade cousins–brash Cacy and book-smart Kiara–embark on a field trip with their different schools to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. While there, they are accidentally cursed by an ancient kii they stumble upon. This curse will bring about complete destruction of the land if the duo do not trek across the park to a nearby heiau before the sun rises on the next day. To make matters worse, an antagonistic collector of artifacts sets her evil henchmen on their trail in order to add the kii to her collection of rare, mystical antiques.

Roy Chang creatively fabricates a world of mystical wonder where Hawaiian spirits and deities come alive, taking active roles in helping (or hindering) the quest of our female heroes (girl power!). I thoroughly enjoyed Chang’s framing of the story within a class trip, providing the narrative expositional license that gives young readers brief, yet educational explanations of Hawaiian geography, history, and myths and legends. For example, the use of Hawaiian words peppered throughout the pages teaches young readers such things as different lava flows (Aʻa vs. Pahoehoe), Hawaiian place names, mythical creatures, and much more.

Though the book runs a bit long at 416 pages, the story moves at a brisk pace as Cacy and Kiara are constantly running in and out of precarious situations with a wealth of characters, including ʻaumākua, the goddesses Pele and Hiʻiaka, and a tribe of Menehune. Aiding in the narrative is Roy Chang’s charming manga-style illustrations, which helps punctuate the notion of this novel being an epic comic book come alive.

Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Kiʻi is a fun and fantastical addition to our wealth of local literature and an especially needed book within the roster of local children’s novels. I look forward to reading and seeing more of Roy Chang’s work, including maybe another adventure for these spunky young heroines.

You can preview the first three chapters of the book here! This book is recommended for ages 9 and up.

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Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Kiʻi
written and illustrated by Roy Chang
BeachHouse Publishing,
416 pages, Softcover
ISBN 1-933067-47-0