Review: Rainbow Gardens by James Malone

RainbowGardensRainbow Gardens: A WWII Historical Fantasy
by James Malone

Sometimes you find a book like Rainbow Gardens that’s worth your time—a book that blows your mind and expands your view of what is possible by portraying an intriguing world full of unforgettable characters and startling ideas.

Some say Rainbow Gardens is magical realism and others say it’s historical fantasy, but almost all agree that the premise is completely crazy—or “kichigai” as the book’s main character, Harry Shikita, would say. But what’s so kichigai about a Japanese immigrant who opens Minnesota’s first motel in the 1920s and then is adopted by a clan of trolls in search of their Redeemer? Happens every day.

Cursed descendants of Cain, the trolls live all over the world and are desperately trying to find their way back to God through their Redeemer—before the troll hunters find them. They think Harry’s the one who can lead them back to God’s Grace.

Harry wants none of that. He’s on his own quest to be a pillar of the community, President of the Rotary, an “old boy.” But the ‘20s and ‘30s are a tough time to be Japanese in America, and it only gets worse after Pearl Harbor. Innocent of any wrongdoing, Harry finds himself interned for the duration of the war–and his business in tatters.

Can Harry find a way to forgive his adopted country? And in so doing, can he become the trolls’ bridge to God’s Grace? The answer lies within the neon paradise of Rainbow Gardens.

myreview1Some wars never end!

This is so true. And it couldn’t be any truer after reading Rainbow Gardens by James Malone. Everyday, we face different kinds of war – battles, fights. But behind these conflicts and turmoils, a rainbow of hope lights up in the sky, bringing smiles and comfort.

Harry had the vision, the will and the determination to open the first ever roadside residence in Minnesota. A temporary refuge for the weary and exhausted travelers who wish to relax and rest for a while. A war veteran of Japanese descent, Harry did everything he can to fulfill his dream. Soon he thrived and managed, but still, his hopes and efforts of being accepted in the American soil remained in the dark, still struggling to be seen.

I found this book very inspiring and enlightening. James Malone’s approach in telling a magical realism and religious metaphysical story is fresh and reeling and has depth. I applaud him for this kind of insight and audacity in tackling racial discrimination that is quite common in all places, we aren’t just really aware of it or not minding it. Rainbow Gardens is a must read!


James Malone took a winding but interesting road to the destination of Rainbow Gardens.

He has had a long career in writing, from senior writer at a mid-size advertising agency to senior communications and public affairs positions in federal and state agencies. His body of work includes award-winning ads, countless news releases and op-eds, as well as speeches and position papers.

The inspiration for Rainbow Gardens was born many years ago, but as its scope grew, James realized that the time required for researching and writing would be a full time job–something that he already had. The outline and first chapters languished in his file cabinet for some 10 years, and then along came the Internet, which opened vast new vistas for research.

The son of a career U.S. Navy officer and a Vietnam Era veteran himself, James is a child of the Cold War. He grew up in cities around the world, including New York, San Diego, Yokohama, London, Paris and Stuttgart. He attended three high schools, graduating from Stuttgart American High School, and earned a B.A. at Alfred University in western New York.

He has moved often since then, always followed by trunk loads of his favorite books; years ago he began collecting first editions with the notion of going into the book-selling business when he retired; but in his heart he is a collector, not a seller. The result is that he is constantly looking for a new shelf to store his growing collection of Civil War, contemporary fiction and history volumes.

His other interests include soccer, which he learned from the English neighbor kids when he lived in London. He was also a competitive sailor for a numbers of years, racing a 20 foot C-Scow, an inland lakes boat. These days he’s happy just to get on the water every now and then.

He currently resides in Wisconsin with his wife and two daughters, who take turns trying to teach him the Zen of Volleyball.


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