Towards the end of Robert Louis Stevenson's life in the late 1880's, he had to move to the Pacific islands for his health. He managed to visit many of the most famous locales while there, including Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, the Gilberts, the Marshalls, and many besides these. He listened to and recorded both native legends and sailors' stories, besides creating a few original stories of his own.
The book contains the following stories: The Beach of Falesa, The Bottle Imp, The Isle of Voices, The Ebb-Tide: A Trio and Quartette, and two very short stories. The book also contains a very lengthy literary overview and critique of Stevenson's work, which I would recommend skipping until after you've read the book. Thankfully, it also contains a map, which you will repeatedly refer to.
The Beach of Falesa is about a European trader (Wiltshire) who takes up residence in the fictitious island of Falesa, whereupon he is hoodwinked by a fellow European (Case) into buying a worthless business and marrying an untouchable girl. Wiltshire then determines to unseat Case from his position of dominance among the natives, so he (Wiltshire) can make good on his business and restore his wife Uma to respectibility. This story like the others that follow are true character studies of both human weakness and resolve.
The Bottle Imp is the story of a native Hawaiian who gets his genie in a bottle to grant him his wishes. But though his wishes are made true and he wins the heart of the girl of his dreams, he becomes both arrogant and cursed with leprosy. He is believed to be a devil by his neighbors. Forced into exile with a wife who believes that he doesn't love her, he desperately seeks out the genie once more to cure his illness. Then he can be with her again, but at the price of external damnation. Or is there still a way out?
The Isle of Voices is also a story about greed and lust. One young Hawaiian man (Keola) yearns for a native girl, but lacks the material wealth for a comfortable marriage. So his girlfriend's father magically takes him to the mysterious and frightful Isle of Voices where treasure lies at his feet simply waiting to be picked up. Not sated with slight and trivial wealth, Keola determines to treacherously seize a vast fortune despite being ominously forbidden by the father. However, Keola's plan is overturned, and he is doomed to learn the secret of the Isle of Voices.
The Ebb-Tide is about three washed up derelict sailors of varying criminal aptitudes who take up the job of delivering an abandoned cargo ship to Australia. However, the ship's European company have all died of smallpox, and everyone believes the ship to be cursed. So, Herrick, Davis, and Huish let sail - but to sell the cargo themselves and then take up as pirates. As the trio complete their dangerous moral and legal fall into piracy and murder, they come upon a queer island loaded with wealth. But will they survive what lies ahead?
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I wasn't engrossed in it. Skip the introduction, or you won't continue reading the book. Go straight to the stories. All the stories are good, but the Ebb-Tide is probably the best.