Here at STARBURST, we have been following the career of Czech-born Hofstatter for quite a while: from his early novelette Katerina to his book of short stories Amaranthine, to his more recent novella Rare Breeds. His latest work, Toroa, is his most ambitious yet.
When babies start to disappear all over the small Pacific island of Waitangi, the locals start to think that a large bird (the titular Toroa) is to blame and that somehow it has been trained to carry out the kidnappings. Meanwhile, in England, a teenage girl called Mahi flees from her abusive mother and a failed relationship with fire-eater, Aryan, to Waitangi, hoping to trace her long-lost Maori father. There she is drawn into the mystery of the Toroa, in a series of events that are destined to change her life forever.
Hofstatter's tale is laden with symbolism; as Stephanie Wytovich points out in her introduction to the book, the albatross has been used metaphorically by writers since the days of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Toroa has a similar mythical sweep that takes its heroine from her homeland of Chatham in Kent to Finland and finally to Waitangi where she confronts her symbolic double in the Toroa and a kind of spiritual rebirth.
Some clunky dialogue aside, Hofstatter draws us quickly into his tale by making his characters compelling and unusual. He takes us on a journey with them that is haunting and memorable, and, as with Hofstatter’s previous works, Toroa lingers in the mind long after reading.
TOROA / AUTHOR: ERIK HOFSTATTER / PUBLISHER: SINISTER GRIN PRESS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW