Reviews

Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho

craftysilicate's review

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challenging dark emotional funny hopeful fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

mitone_winona's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional funny mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Before going into how fantastic the author, Zen Cho, did an amazing job doing magical realism during modern times, I praise the author for perfectly capturing family dynamics and how family REALLY is. The story is through the eyes of Jess as she deals with leaving America to go back home to Malaysia as well as the heaviness of wanting to help her parents as well as keeping her girlfriend secret from her family. Not only is Jess dealing with problems stewing in herself, she is also being possessed by the ghost of her grandmother, Ah Ma. Ah Ma has unfinished business of her own and has chosen Jess to carry out her plans so she can finally pass on and be at rest.

Throughout the story, Ah Ma and Jess bicker continuously and Ah Ma doesn't always give a straight answer to Jess instead giving the infamous "Because I told you so" to Jess in response to questions about why in the world does Jess of all people have to deal with gods and gangs and family matters for her grandmother.

While the mentioning of being possessed by a ghost grandmother, dealing with gods and gangs and the consequences of gentrification will throw a viewer in a loop, I promise the author tells the story beautifully and all of it makes sense and this book never has a slow moment.

Jess is a character trying not to be suffocated under the weight of the world, she is a fighter to the bone and that will make you cheer on for her. She is straight forward, smart, and heart breakingly real that you'll feel as if you want to back up Jess' throughout her journey in investigating what is going on, how to make her grandmother leave immediately, and who is Black Water Sister.

For those that like stories dealing with magical realism as well as action and family matters, I encourage you to read this book.

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lettuce_read's review

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dark

4.0

starowls's review against another edition

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adventurous dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

kitvaria_sarene's review

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adventurous challenging reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

5.0

First look at the authors twitter pitch:
A stressed zillennial lesbian fights gods, ghosts, gangsters & grandmas in 21st century Penang.

I loved this one so very much! I'm a big fan of teh Sorcerer Royal series, but this one worked even better for me.

It's Urban Fantasy, but it's so very different from the typical wizards throwing fireballs! (I like those too, but a fresh breath of air is always especially welcome...)

We have a young woman who grew up in America, move back to Malaysia when her immigrant parents lose their livelihood. 

Obviously Jessamyn is very used to some of the customs, as her parents still stayed rather true to their old customs, but her having grown up in the US has her sitting between to worlds every so often. This allows Zen Cho to sprinkle in enough information to you easily keep a reader new to the culture firmly in the setting, without over explaining or info dumps. She's as curious about some of the things she learns as I was, and I loved exploring more and more of her new surroundings. 

Now she doesn't just have to get used to her new home, she also has to keep hiding her, now long distance, girlfriend, or risk estranging her parents and family.

Oh and did I mention she is haunted by her dead grandma, who kinda moved into her head? 

Sounds like a lot of chaos and challenges, and it made for a great main frame to put the story in.

And the plot itself was as addictive as the setting and characters! Ghostly grandma needs to solve a spiritual problem, and is not shy about the tricks she uses...

There's gods, spirits, ghosts, murder, gangsters and a lot of gossipping as well as the struggle to balance this new spiritual aide of things with the normal day to day life. How are you supposed to settle in, find a job and be a good daughter and niece, if all these things are happening? You better find a way...

I loved how interwoven the plot and the setting was, and just how well Cho ported me to a part of the world I've never been to. The characters and world just felt so real I completely forgot I was reading!

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jodyhardy's review

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adventurous dark mysterious tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

emac021's review against another edition

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dark reflective medium-paced
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5


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a_glom's review

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adventurous dark tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.5

didn’t love it didn’t hate it 

ishouldreadthat's review against another edition

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adventurous dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.0


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kaiyakaiyo's review against another edition

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5.0

this book was such a quick and delightful read! every time i was about to mark the page and shut it, my eyes would keep reading even as i was trying to close the book. amazing amazing amazing book with a queer protagonist that isn’t A Queer Protaginist; jess felt very authentic without feeling like a diversity plant. loved the descriptions of the gods and the gorgeous depictions of everyday Penang. this is my second zen cho book and definitely my favorite of the two, but her skill with characters, emotion, and magic even in the everyday shines in both books. now to read the sorcerer to the crown sequel!