Black Water Sister

Novel by 
Zen Cho
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Binding: Paperback
Published: Jun 2021
Cover: Melissa Four

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 grandmother is just as complicated. Especially when Ah Ma tries to spy on her personal life, threatens to spill her secrets to her family and uses her body to commit felonies. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny – or the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.

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Praise for Black Water Sister

"Zen Cho's brilliant and distinct voice brings worlds to life on the page. A sharp and bittersweet story of past and future, ghosts and gods and family, that kept me turning pages into the dark hours of the night."—Naomi Novik, New York Times bestselling author of A Deadly Education

"Told with love and humour, Black Water Sister is both ode and accusation to all the ties that bind - to family, duty and home. Thrilling and terrifying, honest and hopeful, this may be Zen Cho's best work yet."—Karen Lord, award winning author of Unraveling

"A creepily atmospheric and surprisingly heartwarming tale of gangsters, family, and spirits"—Aliette de Bodard, Nebula-award winning author of Seven of Infinities

“Zen Cho’s Black Water Sister is a perfect blend of ghosts, gods, and the eternal bonds of family ties. Set in the gorgeous backdrop of Penang, Jess reunites with her extended family and navigate the world of spirits and gangsters. This novel is perfect for readers craving an otherworldly, atmospheric fantasy.”—Roselle Lim, author of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune

“Zen Cho’s Black Water Sister is the diaspora fantasy of my dreams – funny, creepy, and heartfelt. Jessamyn Teoh never wanted to be haunted by her sassy, score-settling grandmother, but when she moves from America to her parents’ hometown in Malaysia, she must navigate family, gods, ghosts and old grudges in this compelling and heartwarming ghost story.”—Vanessa Len, author of Only A Monster

“A thrilling modern fantasy tale packed to the brim with deliciously petty spirits, intriguing family secrets, and an achingly tender personal journey for our thoroughly relatable heroine. I absolutely loved it.”—Sarah Kuhn, author of Heroine Complex

"A compelling and deftly written ghost story of a young woman's passage through the grudges and tragedies of her family's past to find a path into a future she chooses for herself."—Kate Elliott, author of Unconquerable Sun

“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.” —Fonda Lee, award winning author of the Green Bone Saga

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