Altar of Pearl is a magnificent story. I've never read a book at all like it, one with such a poetic view and description of life, involving such interesting and varied characters in such a kaleidoscopic plot, and with a sub-story involving supernatural events, which itself teaches a moral of the bigger story, underlying it all. The book certainly deals with constant danger and threat of violence, and, disturbingly, it's sometimes not just the criminal types who are cruel. But it deals mainly with loyalty and love, and says to us that the highest love involves, maybe most importantly, loyalty, as demonstrated dramatically when the most upstanding characters of the book are gathering together at its end to selflessly support and protect those of them who are being threatened. This gathering is just happening as the book ends, but we know that during it, on the next page of the book if another page were written, will occur the most selfless act of love attached to the story, and it warms our hearts to know what’s about to happen. Underlying all of this is the internal story of the pearl, which, even though the main character tries half-heartedly to rationalize, is certainly supernatural ... there is no other explanation ... and, amazingly, the author’s poetic writing makes us accept it as totally natural, totally real! I only put this book down once while reading it, and then rushed to pick it up again! I think the unique poetic writing style of this new author will have wide appeal, and that his keen observation and description of life has something to teach us all - to me, his book is a masterpiece!!!