Black Water Sister


paperback, 384 pages

Published May 10, 2021 by Ace.


View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (4 reviews)

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 …

2 editions

A contemporary fantasy novel set in Malaysia that captures how locals (both living and spiritual) live their lives here.

4 stars

A good contemporary fantasy story set in Malaysia involving local spirits. It also serves as an introduction to the world of spirits in the region. As a former Malaysian now in Singapore, the non-fantasy aspects of Malaysian society and culture featured in the book ring true, while the fantasy aspects do have solid roots in how spirits are worshipped by local people. But on to the actual review. :-)

The book centres around Jessamyn Teoh, who is reluctantly moving back to Malaysia from the US with her parents. But from the start, strange things happens when a voice in her head begins to speak to her. This turns out to be her maternal grandmother, who has a bone to pick with a wealthy Malaysian who is developing land on which a shrine that is the home to the spirit of Black Water Sister is sitting.

Jessamyn reluctantly agrees to help …

Review of 'Black Water Sister' on 'GoodReads'

4 stars

TW: homophobia, misogyny, mentioned abusive husband, strangulation, rape, gang violence


Jess has been afloat since graduating college- she's in a long distance relationship that's also completely secret, since she'd rather never have to deal with coming out to her parents, and she's the only person she knows without a job. So moving with her parents, back to Malaysia, a place she doesn't even remember, is a strange step but not one she has any reason to fight against. Except that apparently stepping foot in Malaysia has made the voice of her grandmother's ghost stronger. She wants to believe it's stress, but as strange things continue happening it's harder to pretend. Jess has found herself in the middle of family secrets and old gods, with nothing to help her but her belligerent dead grandmother and a degree she can't use.

This book was a lot of fun! There's a great …

avatar for mouse

rated it

4 stars