Age: Young AdultFalling Into Rarohenga by Steph Matuku – An Exciting...

Falling Into Rarohenga by Steph Matuku – An Exciting Portal Fantasy that Celebrates Māori Mythology, Māoritanga, and Siblinghood – The Quiet Pond



It seems like a normal day when Tui and Kai, sixteen-year-old twins, return home from school – until they find that their mother, Maya, has disappeared and a swirling vortex has opened in her room. They are sucked into this portal and dragged to Rarohenga, the Maori underworld, a shadowy place of endless dark levels, changing landscapes and unbelievable characters. Maya is kidnapped by their estranged father, Tama, fascinated to forget who she really is and hides somewhere here. Twi and Kaa have to find their way through this maze, outwit the shady characters they meet, break the spell on their mother, and escape to the world of light before the shadow question or Tama hold them in Rohranga forever.

Growing up and living in Otaru (New Zealand), I do not often get the pleasure of reading a book where I get to see the slang reo I grew up immersed and the references to Kiwiana are reflected in the page. I mean, how often do we get to see a brother call his brother an ‘egg’, something that all the kids growing up in Utraua definitely called each other at some point? Or, how often do I get to see the flora, fauna and all the things that feel essential to Otaru – Ruru, Hua, glowing worms, Rotorua hot pools – are casually but kindly mentioned in the story?

So when I read Falling into the underworld By Steph Matuku, I had such a wonderful time. I loved that this story felt so familiar to me and felt like part of my home. Equally important, I had so much fun reading this gem, and I can not wait to share with you all my five reasons why you should pick it up attribute.

1. It’s a fantasy portal to Rohranga, the Maori underworld

I love portal fantasies – the idea of ​​being moved to another place, to a place that has been completely removed and outside of your normal daily life, where endless possibilities and adventures await. Falling into the underworld It is an amazing fantasy adventure on the portal, where the two main characters, the Maori twins Twi and Kai, return home from school and discover that their mother is missing. As they enter her room, they are drawn into a whirlpool and find themselves in Rohranga, the Maori underworld where the spirits of the dead reside.

2. A sweeping and stunning exThe study of Maori mythology

If you like stories that have gods, goddesses and mythical creatures, then you will love what Falling into the underworld Should offer. What I loved about him Falling into the underworld Is that the story feels like a deep dive into Maori mythology. Inside Rarohenga, we meet Maori Atua (gods), such as Rūaumoko, the god of earthquakes and volcanoes, Tāwhirimātea, the weather god, and even the mysterious Hinekōruru – but I will keep her identity a secret to reveal to you! I loved that the Atua I learned about in school were in this story, proved to be scary and mysterious creatures and very alive and full of power in Reruhanga. Moreover, mythological creatures like the taniwha (Snake and dragon-like creatures) and tūrehu appear significant and help (or inhibit?) Toy and Kha on their journey. Falling into the underworld sa

3. It’s also a quest story – a journey to save their mother

At the beginning of the story, we learn that the twins are attracted to Rarohanga for a reason: they need to save their mother. Thus, Twi and Kai embark on a journey, going deeper into Rohranga to find their mother, Twi and Kai face challenges unlike they ever imagined. Like most of the portal’s fantasies, not only the creatures and beings they encounter are challenges – and in Rarohenga, the world itself will do what it can to make them forget the world up and stay forever – the twins must also use their strengths and confront their weaknesses to overcome obstacles. Facing them.

4. Examines the strength and complexity of the brothers

One of my favorite passages in Falling into the underworld Is the way the story centers and explores the sibling relationship between Twi and Kea. Although they are twins, the two could not have been more different – Twi is a librarian, highly knowledgeable, and aspiring to learn and become something more than she is now, but also lonely, while Kai is very loyal and protective (although he is too). Proud to admit it), a little hot-headed and loves music. Another difference point for the twins is how they feel towards their father, who went to jail for fraud and was terrible to their mother. While Toy, as the eldest child in the family, cared for their depressed mother and felt tired of her father, Ka is still looking at him. How the story resolves this conflict is heartbreaking, but they also come out stronger and closer to the end.

5. Ultimately an empowering story about Maori And identity

At the heart of this story, Falling into the underworld Is a brilliant story about Twi and Kai’s identity and connection to their Maori identity and Maori. I loved that Twi and Kai’s adventure deep into Rarohanga parallels their journey to what is Mauritanga and theirs From the kapafa. In Rarohenga, they meet their huia, their aunt they love but passed on, they give hope and respect to the world and Rarohenga beings and thus allow them to advance in their journey, and they use their knowledge passed on from stories to overcome challenges. Falling into the underworld Felt like a celebration of Mauritanga, a story where Maori readers can see themselves, containing a world that Maori readers can feel connected to.

Is this book for you?

Legal premise: A boy and a girl are drawn into a whirlpool and find themselves in Rohranga – looking for their missing mother.

Perfect for: Readers who love stories with mythology, gods and mythical creatures; Readers who love portal fantasies; Readers who love stories centered on siblings; Readers looking for a story without romance

Think twice if: You are not looking for something with a ‘younger’ voice.

genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Portal

Trigger / Content Warning: Mention of death and deceased relatives, counting parental depression, parental abandonment

Find this book at:
Good readings | Amazon | Huia Publishers



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