A Half Flower

A revolutionist French surgeon. Victorian Hawai'i. A question of loyalty.

A Half Flower is the first installment in the historical fiction and magical realism series Naupaka. If you enjoy exotic locales, cringe-worthy explorations of Victorian medicine, and subtle humor, then you’ll love Mirà Kanehl’s novel. Will the surgeon prove his fidelity?

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A Half Flower Synopsis


In trying to understand visions he's not meant to have, a young surgeon digs his own grave.

Peril unfolds in the historical fiction and magical realism novel A Half Flower in which Balzac Voclain, a trouble magnet, fights for justice. The story begins in 1821 Lyon, in Balzac’s school years, when he mistakenly witnesses a family member’s head rolling from the guillotine. He’s drawn into the aftershocks of the French Revolution and encounters … well, more trouble.


He flees France under cover with missionaries and disembarks in Hawai'i, where he pursues a surgeon’s career. The queen being Protestant, Balzac finds all Frenchmen fled. He discovers the old Hawaiian beliefs, filled with magic and legends, pressed to remote areas or replaced by Protestantism. It feels like a déjà vu. Already involved with a stunning Hawaiian woman, he wants to live with her. They join forces with the Catholic missionaries who are set on staying, too.


Meanwhile, his friends from France decide to fight the injustice against Haitians and turn somewhat pirate. The two discover there is more between them than a brotherly bond. But the times are not ready for romance between men. Will they voice what they dare not say? The plot thickens as they approach the French military vessel, and a real pirate ship appears on the horizon. Will the pirates ruin their plans?


Back in Hawai'i, Balzac sees the other side of the political agenda when he’s chosen for a human sacrifice by the old culture. Losing his grip on reality, he starts believing he might be part of a legend. Or is he just in trouble again? And will his friends make it to Hawai'i?

Genrefication of an unusual book

A Half Flower is an unusual book rich in subtle details and complex in the way these interweave, similar to the Outlander book series, and therefore fits into many genres. Here are some aspects to expect:

Historical fiction

First and foremost, A Half Flower is a historical fiction novel. It’s mainly set in 1827, with some scenes before that year until the protagonist’s journey begins in earnest. This time period in Hawai’i was marked by significant changes both politically, culturally and socially, which influence the story’s characters in their decisions and how they feel about them. Historical events of the time, such as an earthquake and the arrival of Priest Bachelot at Honolulu, play a large role, too. Some of A Half Flower’s characters are based on real people, some are entirely fictional, and they offer a unique perspective on these historical events and the Zeitgeist for modern readers. While the events enjoy authentic portrayal, creative freedom renders the private events in the character’s lives a page turner.

Historical romance

He's a rebel. She's an adventuress. They didn't want to fall in love.

If you enjoy unlooked for romance, headstrong characters, and witty exchanges, then you'll love Mirà Kanehl's novel. Will their infatuation turn to love?


Besides being a historical fiction novel, A Half Flower also carries certain aspects of romance. At the heart of A Half Flower, Balzac and Mayme’s relationship strongly influences the plot, and their emotional journey—their struggles, conflicts, and growth—forms a central part in the plot. A Half Flower explores romantic themes such as trust, overcoming obstacles, and acceptance, and celebrates the transformative power of relationships.

Magical realism

A French surgeon with inexplicable visions. Hawaiian folktales come real. A prophecy.

If you enjoy a hero who doesn't know his power, savage antagonists, and surreal adventure, then you'll love Mirà Kanehl's novel. Will the surgeon handle his power or succumb to it?


A Half Flower is also a magical realism book because it blends almost magical elements with the ordinary historical world in a way that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. These elements are presented in a matter-of-fact manner, seamlessly integrated into the narrative and accepted as a normal part of the character’s reality. But they are not over the top fantasy. Balzac has visions from a young age and knows they aren’t normal. He searches for their reason and meaning, and finds little in the realistic setting of Victorian France and Hawai’i. In Hawai’i he comes in contact with a people who, at that time, very much believed what many now consider folk tales (though even now Hawai’i is filled with superstitions, and visitors who disregard advice about them often regret it). In tying fantasy in with the historical setting, I want to give readers a chance to feel the zeitgeist and what people possibly felt at the time, to immerse them more deeply in it. The fantasy is more about how characters put meaning to what they experience rather than mystical creatures invading an otherwise realistic scene.

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In this manner, A Half Flower invites to explore the boundaries of imagination while reflecting on the complexities of the human experience.

Historical adventure

A revolutionist Frenchman among Hawaiian rebels. A choice of life or death.

If you enjoy surprising quirky action, exotic locales, and the navigation of unexplored territory, then you'll love Mirà Kanehl's novel. Will the Frenchman save his friend?


At heart, A Half Flower is also a historical adventure, and not only because its story structure is based on the adventure arc. It is a story filled with exploration, excitement, and action. Balzac faces high stakes and embarks on a dangerous quest—more than once. His friends literally pursue a treasure, he the valuable goal of finding the meaning of his life. He explores unchartered territory, as the Hawaiian islands were still relatively fresh to world contact and systematic chartering. The action packed plot has Balzac encounter outre obstacles in an exotic setting vividly weaved into the narrative. Against this rich backdrop, Balzac proves his courage and shows he is willing to take risks to reach his goal. Heroism and survival are strongly developed themes in A Half Flower. As a historical adventure, A Half Flower takes the reader on an exhilarating journey through distant lands and lost customs, captivating with its sense of adventure and spirit of exploration.


Rogue tribals. 1827 Hawai'i. Human sacrifice.

If you enjoy all-pervasive antagonists, a jungle escape, and horrendous savageness, then you'll love Mirà Kanehl's novel. Will the surgeon escape in time?


Realistic historical novels often contain a strong element of horror simply because the past is filled with horrible things. Horror is characterized by its ability to evoke fear, dread, and unease—traumatizing things, if they were real. A Half Flower has some chilling imagery in unsettling settings. As the characters face these psychological terrors and encounter violence, the reader delves into the depths of the human psyche. Paired with shocking plot twists, this unease leaves a lasting impression and adds complexity to the realistic portrayal of those times.

Interracial romance

A revolutionist French surgeon. A lovely Hawaiian woman. Rebel natives.

If you enjoy interracial obstacles, headstrong characters, and a rich cultural setting, then you'll love Mirà Kanehl's novel. Can their love withstand their differences?


The genre of interracial romance focuses on the differences in racial or ethnic backgrounds the characters bring into their relationship. This influences the way they experience love and their perspective on it, and encompasses language barriers, family expectations, social norms, and tradition, among others. In interracial romance books, the story may focus on acceptance, tolerance, and love conquering prejudice. They may also touch on identity, class, race, and privilege, prompting readers to reflect on broader social issues and inequalities. While Balzac is thoroughly French, Mayme struggles with her identity as hapa hapa; half Hawaiian and half English in descent. By highlighting the beauty and challenges of interracial love, A Half Flower and other novels in this genre promote empathy, understanding, and inclusivity in literature and society.


A Half Flower also encompasses gay love in a side plot. Balzac’s close friends Victor, who he grew up with and a rebel in blood, and Jèrriais, an ex-priest who is deeply spiritual, discover their bond goes beyond the brotherhood of their rebel activities. 

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A Half Flower celebrates diversity with its LGTB+ aspect also, challenges stereotypes and promotes empathy.

Hawai'i fiction

A revolutionist surgeon. 1827 Hawai'i. Rebel natives with intent to kill.

If you enjoy a fight against an oppressive monarchy, a rich cultural tapestry, and loveable, opposing characters, then you'll love Mirà Kanehl's novel. Will the monarchy suppress the rebels?


A Half Flower being set in Hawai’i and deeply entrenched in the culture of the archipelago, it snugly fits into the Hawai’i fiction genre. The setting being 1827 Honolulu, this book takes the reader to perspectives little spoken about in today’s discourses on Hawai’i. A Half Flower is set in a time before Asian influence (which came through the import of labor), just after unification of the islands (before Kamehameha the Conqueror united the islands, they comprised many kingdoms), and in a time when people who had met Cook still walked the earth. Then, as now, cultural identity plays a large role. A Half Flower celebrates the Aloha Spirit and the darker aspects of Hawai’i’s past and thus promotes real portrayal and acceptance of its rich culture.

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