Black Water Sister


eBook, 400 pages

English language

Published June 9, 2021 by Penguin Random House.

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4 stars (3 reviews)

As Jessamyn packs for Malaysia, it’s not a good time to start hearing a bossy voice in her head. Broke, jobless and just graduated, she’s abandoning America to return ‘home’. But she last saw Malaysia as a toddler – and is completely unprepared for its ghosts, gods and her eccentric family’s shenanigans.

Jess soon learns her ‘voice’ belongs to Ah Ma, her late grandmother. She worshipped the Black Water Sister, a local deity. And when a business magnate dared to offend her goddess, Ah Ma swore revenge. Now she’s decided Jess will help, whether she wants to or not.

As Ah Ma blackmails Jess into compliance, Jess fights to retain control. But her irrepressible relative isn’t going to let a little thing like death stop her, when she can simply borrow Jess’s body to make mischief. As Jess is drawn ever deeper into a world of peril and family secrets, …

4 editions

A contemporary fantasy novel set in Malaysia that captures how locals (both living and spiritual) live their lives here.

4 stars

A good contemporary fantasy story set in Malaysia involving local spirits. It also serves as an introduction to the world of spirits in the region. As a former Malaysian now in Singapore, the non-fantasy aspects of Malaysian society and culture featured in the book ring true, while the fantasy aspects do have solid roots in how spirits are worshipped by local people. But on to the actual review. :-)

The book centres around Jessamyn Teoh, who is reluctantly moving back to Malaysia from the US with her parents. But from the start, strange things happens when a voice in her head begins to speak to her. This turns out to be her maternal grandmother, who has a bone to pick with a wealthy Malaysian who is developing land on which a shrine that is the home to the spirit of Black Water Sister is sitting.

Jessamyn reluctantly agrees to help …

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4 stars