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Reviewed by Shrabastee Chakraborty for Readers' Favorite
Ken Ryan visited his Aunt Ruth in New Zealand, seeking solace. Bruised from a failed marriage, he wanted to spend some time ensconced in the volcanic mountains of Ruapehu and heal himself. However, when he met Maya, a National Geographic photographer, on a deserted viaduct, he felt an immediate connection to her. Despite their mutual attraction, Ken could not decide if it was too soon to open his heart to new possibilities. However, before he could make up his mind, Maya disappeared without a trace. How will Ken find her, especially when an enraged Ruapehu threatens to wake from slumber at any moment? Find out in Ruapehu: A Novel of New Zealand by Jesse Reiss.
As a genre-defying novel, Ruapehu presents different aspects to different readers. Some could read it as a romantic suspense novel, while others would recognize it as an environmental thriller. Using both Ken's and Maya’s perspectives, Reiss created an unforgettable love story. He vividly portrayed their suppressed emotions and anguish, making us yearn for their union. I loved Reiss’s depictions of the scenic beauty of New Zealand and the warm welcome the islanders offered. The thorough representations of the Maori customs highlighted their close connections with nature. I loved how the inhabitants personified Ruapehu and considered her an indispensable part of their everyday life. They revered her greatness and feared her volatile temperament, yet loved and protected her with all their might.
Reading this book made me realize how we humans are mere playthings in front of the enormous power of Mother Earth, entirely at her mercy. I loved how folkloric accounts perfectly complemented the geological tidbits concerning a volcanic eruption and its aftermath. The palpable suspense kept me glued to the pages. I recommend this book to anyone who loves an adventure story with a romantic undertone.