“A stressed zillenial lesbian fights gods, gangsters, & grandmas in 21st century Penang” – Zen Cho
Honestly… SAY LESS
Hello everyone! My name is Jan, and welcome back to another blog post ◝(ᵔᵕᵔ)◜ ♥
After I saw the cover of Black Water Sister floating around Twitter, I knew that I MUST read it, I mean seriously it is GORGEOUS. Aftering hearing about a “stressed zillenial lesbian” who fights gods, gangsters and grandmas in Penang, I knew that I was automatically going to be hooked. I absolutely love stories that include ghosts and gods, especially if those ghosts and gods embody a Malaysian grandma with an attitude.
Without further ado, let’s get on with the review!
Title: Black Water Sister
Author: Zen Cho
Release Date: May 11, 2021
A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy.
Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it.
Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.
CW: attempted rape, homophobia, racist microaggressions
I jumped into this completely blind except for the fact that the mc is sapphic and she fights ghosts with her grandma and can I say… I was well fed!
Jess was a character I could see a lot of people relating to- the type of character that’s basically stressed out about life in general and had no idea what was going in her life.
She is a closeted sapphic who is a recent college graduate and moves back to Malaysia with her parents not knowing what to do next. Moving back to Malaysia is a bit of a culture shock since she lived in the US all her life. She tries to adapt back to the culture and language and has even more stress upon her tightening relationship with her girlfriend. Just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, she becomes haunted by a ghost. That ghost more specifically being her grandmother.
Her grandmother is back and as witty and sarcastic even as a ghost. Her Ah Ma refuses to move onto the afterlife and she needs Jess’s help to get revenge on gangster Ng Chee Hin on behalf of the goddess Black Water Sister.
Even typing her name sounds cool af.
This book goes back and forth from having hilarious scenes between Jess and her Ah Ma, trying to figure what to do next and fighting ghosts, I found myself having a lot of fun reading this! I’m not Malaysian myself but I learned a lot about the culture and the folklore which were all very interesting to read!
This story has it all from fighting goddesses and ghosts, gangster gang rivalry, family secrets, a witty and fun grandma that isn’t afraid to speak her mind. While I enjoyed the story, I wished I got more explanations and more background about the culture and language as a reader who is not Malaysian myself. But I still enjoyed the book nonetheless!
Black Water Sister was a very fun and interesting book to read! If you’re the type of reader that loves ghost stories and fun adventures with a stressed zellenial who has no idea what the heck is going on, then you’ll absolutely love Zen Cho’s stunning book.
Thank you for stopping by for my review! I hope you’re all staying safe ❤