“Ghosts, gods, and supernatural vengeance collide in vividly-depicted modern day Malaysia to create a contemporary fantasy story that’s full of voice and heart. At turns suspenseful, poignant and hilarious, Black Water Sister is an addictive tale of personal identity, family secrets, and culture clash.”


Black Water Sister is a contemporary fantasy by Zen Cho that sees the protagonist Jessamyn and her family move back to Malaysia from the USA. It all comes as something of a culture shock, and Jess is also struggling to hide her sexuality and her secret girlfriend from her family so when she starts to hear a mysterious voice in her head she puts it down to stress and hopes it will go away as things settle down.

It turns out that the voice belongs to her dead grandmother, Ah Ma , and she has plans for Jessamyn, plans than involve a sacred temple and settling the score against a local mobster. As Jess finds herself throw in at the deep end and trying to juggle family commitments, her secret relationship and a world of powerful and vengeful gods and ghosts she risks her life , her sanity and everything that she holds dear.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book, and loved the interplay between Jessamy and her Grandmother, one of the most acerbic and most fun characters I have read in quite a while. I loved that the author took this elderly woman and put her at the heart of the story, something that I have not seen very often. The story is quite intricate but never so much so that I felt confused, rather I was intrigued to see where the author was taking me. The writing style was descriptive without being overly so, enough that I could imagine the settings etc without it slowing down the story. The book started at a gentle pace but picked up speed as it continued to a dramatic and exciting conclusion.
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.


Reviewed by:

Annette Jordan

Added 18th August 2021

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Annette Jordan