STARRED REVIEW
October 2015

Lessons and dispatches from a mystical island

By Tim Wynne-Jones
Review by

Evan is grief-stricken after the sudden death of his father, Clifford. His estranged grandfather, the legendary Marine lifer Griff, comes to help “get things in order,” but all Evan knows about Griff is the mutual hate between him and Clifford, culminating in Clifford’s move to Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft. But there may be a hidden motivation for Griff’s sudden willingness to care for his grandson. Evan finds a book on Clifford’s desk that chronicles bizarre, fantastical events from the end of World War II.

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Evan is grief-stricken after the sudden death of his father, Clifford. His estranged grandfather, the legendary Marine lifer Griff, comes to help “get things in order,” but all Evan knows about Griff is the mutual hate between him and Clifford, culminating in Clifford’s move to Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft. But there may be a hidden motivation for Griff’s sudden willingness to care for his grandson. Evan finds a book on Clifford’s desk that chronicles bizarre, fantastical events from the end of World War II. Griff is determined to get his hands on the book, so Evan intends to keep it from him, suspecting that the book implicates his grandfather in some terrible deed.

The book reveals the story of a Japanese soldier who survives a battle against the United States and finds refuge on a deserted Pacific island called Kokoro-Jima, the Heart-Shaped Island. There, mystical ghost children follow him, and zombie-like beings feast on the memories of dead soldiers that wash ashore. This incredible story alternates with—and greatly overshadows—Evan’s present-day interactions with his cold-hearted grandfather. Like Evan, the reader can scarcely wait for each installment of the tale of Kokoro-Jima.

Literary master Tim Wynne-Jones has penned another outstanding book for adventurous readers, combining history and horror to grip the imagination.

 

This article was originally published in the October 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Emperor of Any Place

The Emperor of Any Place

By Tim Wynne-Jones
Candlewick
ISBN 9780763669737

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