Russell Cahill -- "Kolea -- A Story of Hawai’i and Beyond"

Much like the crafty magician who uses a slight of hand to amaze audiences, the astute writer impresses theirs through characterization and visualization. Often it comes with a subtle push toward education, and at other times, through expression of personal experiences. Author, Russell Cahill, offers that and more in his adventurous Hawaiian tale titled, “Kolea -- A Story of Hawai’i and Beyond”.

"This is a beautiful story of Hawaii: of kings and queens (titled or not) and of Hawaii culture and mythology, weaponry and warfare, and most of all, perseverance,” states Mihaela Stoops, a West Maui Book Club member. “I have learnt so many new things about Hawaiians and their islands from the book: from various species of birds and whales to building and riding canoes, to making weapons and war techniques, to Hawaii cuisine, lifestyle and women’s roles.”

All of this comes as no surprise, for “Kolea” is built upon the bones of Cahill’s ancestors, particularly his grandmother’s, who was the daughter of Ali’i, and ends in their secluded Halawa Valley on the island of Molokai. It’s further nourished by his multiple experiences within the National Park Service--mostly as the entrusted supervisor of Haleakala National Park--but also from his love for Alaska, where he kayaked with his family upon rivers not far from the remote cabin he constructed. So expect to learn a great deal of history, meaning, and cultural significance that’s attached to both land and spirit within the pages of “Kolea”.

Cahill begins his narrative with Pueo, an enchantress known as the Old Owl Woman, who raises the son of the king of Maui. She prepares him to meet his destiny, which only she has foreseen, with the help of Koa Koi, the Great Axe Soldier. But the road is perilous and in order to fulfill the inevitable, Kolea must travel northward into the unknown Pacific Northwest. His battles along the way are many of Hawaii’s historic battles. His traditions, theirs.

As Kolea ventures into Alaskan waters, Cahill introduces the ways of the Alaskan Tlingit, Haida, and Chumash tribes, who like the Hawaiians, were a warring, protective people. And, that Cahill would weave so seamlessly the many strongholds of his real world into this story shows the depth of the magic he wields.

Mihaela believes “Kolea” could become a successful television series, to which fellow WMBC member, Janis Casco, adds that while suited for the young-adult audience, it held her interest throughout and was “a joyful history lesson taught in an artful manner”.

“Kolea: A Story of Hawai’i and Beyond” is available online in Kindle from Amazon at and in Nook from Barnes & Noble at Check also with your local bookstore by asking for it to be ordered if not carried.

Russell Cahill can be reached through his website at

Written by: Elaine Gallant, Sept. 2015
West Maui Book Club