Title: Black Water Sister
Author: Zen Cho
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy.
When Jessamyn Teoh starts hearing a voice in her head, she chalks it up to stress. Closeted, broke and jobless, she’s moving back to Malaysia with her parents – a country she last saw when she was a toddler.
She soon learns the new voice isn’t even hers, it’s the ghost of her estranged grandmother. In life, Ah Ma was a spirit medium, avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a business magnate who has offended the god—and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it, whether Jess wants to or not.
Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business, but dealing with her grandmother is just as complicated. Especially when Ah Ma tries to spy on her personal life, threatens to spill her secrets to her family and uses her body to commit felonies. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny – or the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.
Why This Book
Black Water Sister is about Jess becoming the reluctant medium for her late grandmother’s spirit, who has a score to settle. Jess has just graduated from college and has moved with her family back to Malaysia, where she spends some time wondering what to do with her life and about her love life, but spends most of her time acting on her late grandmother’s behalf. A fun and sometimes amusing story of gods, ghosts, and gangs, Black Water Sister deftly wove cultural and religious clashes into a fun, yet also dangerous quest for revenge.
Why this book? It’s summer in Malaysia and apparently very hot. I’ve never been, but this book made me feel like I was sweating alongside Jess. I loved how the heat played a role and how it always seemed to be brought up. This book practically sizzled, and I keep thinking it might make for a toasty read in the middle of winter.
My review: “Black Water Sister was a surprisingly fun and delightful read. There’s definitely a serious streak running through it, but I was always caught off guard by just how much fun I found it to be. It’s both lighthearted and serious, dealing with heavy topics, but the interactions Jess has with everyone is casual and, well, fun”
Ellie from Beyond a Bookshelf gave this 4 stars, saying “For those wanting a summer read that will sweep you away to somewhere distant and new (maybe whilst you’re stuck at home), I would certainly recommend Black Water Sister. It’s a really great standalone, and a wonderfully fresh story to boot.”
Elif from Elif the Reader said “Black Water Sister tells an entertaining story about family secrets, the difficulties brought about by generational differences, the diversity of beliefs and cultures, the impact of the family on the way people become an individual, violence against women and many more”
Nat from The Lesbrary said “Despite the serious nature of bodies controlled by restless spirits and vengeful gods, while grappling with sexuality and life’s purpose, this book had me cackling the entire time”
Becky from Becky’s Book Blog said “Overall I really enjoyed this book, it had me cackling with laughter as well a cringing away from the pages, but all in all, it was a story about the bonds of family and how, even after death they can stay with us”
Belle from this belle reads too gave this 4 stars, saying “Overall, Black Water Sister was a wonderful story about ghostly encounters, misunderstandings that spanned generations, and a young woman trying to find her place in this world. Set in Malaysia, Black Water Sister reflected the culture and atmosphere of the country clearly“
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