Cowrie travels to Punalu'u, Hawaii, where her grandfather lived and meets her extended family. She is attracted by the power of Pele, who breathes fire from the pit of Kiluaea. As she circles the island in an old pick up truck we discover that the tokens of her heritage link her mysteriously to Laukiamanuikahiki, turtle woman.
Cowrie, Paneke and Koana are in the steamhouse after lomilomi treatment: "As the steam thins, the window facing them slowly emerges revealing Pele on her fiery path down to the ocean. Her flaming hair trails down her back and over the slopes of Kiluaea, sparking into sizzling waves as it hits the ocean...a woman emerges through the mist, riding the surf, her hair trailing in the sea. A wave circles over her head and she looks both frightened and elated to be surging through the ocean. Cowrie squints. Steam obscures her vision. When it rises, she makes out a small head in front of the woman. She is riding a sea turtle."
Sensual and sexual language draw life from the earth and ocean, and Cowrie too, as she tests the limits of her endurance and explores an erotic connection with land and sea. Island life erupts through these descriptions: we can taste the tropical fruit, the fish cooked in banana leaves and coconut, and smell the sweet fresh ginger.
"There is freshness, humour and honesty in the writing ... It both charms and enlightens." --"Canberra Times"