338 pages
ISBN 0-920428-49-5






Reviewed by Vivienne Denton


Selakhi, first novel by poet Sean Virgo, is the story of a teenage dropout who, like Salinger’s protagonist in Catcher in the Rye, throws off authority and sets out to experience forbidden adult vices. However, this young man is streets ahead of that young innocent, Holden Caulfield, in the vices he explores. Already smoking, drinking, and sexually initiated, Darien Hughes lives in a fantasy world where he is the arch-emperor of evil. The imaginary world he has created for himself is the stuff of dungeons and dragons and currently popular fantasy novels. He revels in his vices and savours the act of experiencing them.

When the story begins, Darien Hughes has been sent home from boarding school in England to his father’s station in the Solomon Islands. In these steamy isles of the South Seas he throws off the final shackles of authority, runs away, goes native, cohabits with a native girl, chews betel nut (the native dope), and finally commits murder. This tale of depravity might have been quite racy if the hero had been more credibly portrayed, and if it were not interrupted by the purple prose in which the philosophizing and fantasies of this precocious youth are expressed, as well as by his poetry — for we are asked to believe that he is a talented poet, indeed a modern-day Arthur Rimbaud. The author has not brought his protagonist convincingly to life, largely because Darien does not have the authentic angst of youth. The evils he imagines are essentially banal, and the writing in which they are presented is pretentious. The author appears to be not so much analyzing as indulging in teenage fantasies.


Virgo, Sean, “Selakhi,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,