A review by kitvaria_sarene
Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho

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


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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