THIS book continues where Miyah And The Forest Demon (2011) left off. I reviewed that book too and found it engaging, mystical and a pageturner.
The review can be found at The Star Online (tinyurl.com/mg9tthq). When I reviewed Miyah I did not realise there would be a sequel in two years’ time. This new book doesn’t fail to impress, though. It has all the ingredients to capture the attention of pre-teens and teens and get them to keep reading right till the end.
Based in Sarawak, it has many themes and native words that would be familiar to readers – from hantu to penyamun and the shape-shifter.
It starts off introducing readers to the village of Tapoh where Kumang, her younger sister Malidi and their friend Suru live.
Suru is athletic and loves to go hunting with her brother Temaga and their friend Rigih. Kumang recently married Majang, while Malidi is a young, curious and adventurous girl.
One day, Malidi picks up some beads in the forest – despite countless warnings from elders never to do this, as they believe things found in the forest could either be enchanted or bait by penyamun wanting to kidnap children and youths.
But Malidi has seen those beads before and since nobody else has picked them up, she thinks they are safe to take to the longhouse.
When she is found out, her parents try to get a healer to free her of the “spell” while confining her to a room in their home.
Malidi is miserable being stuck in her room and not even allowed out to have a bath. Unable to stand it any longer, Malidi sneaks out of the house one day when she discovers she is alone. She takes the beads and runs out to have a bath nearby.
When she is done, Malidi intends to return home when she hears a rustling nearby. And then she disappears! With both Miyah and now Malidi missing – Miyah disappeared in the first book – something must be done.
Believing that Malidi, like Miyah before her, has been taken by a hantu, Miyah’s brother Bongsu, who has the gift of sight, and Rigih go to Nenek Kebayan for help. The trio then set forth on a journey to find the Bobohizan (witch) of Moon Lake, for only she can vanquish a hantu. I have to admit I was reluctant to start reading this book. Despite being familiar with author Tutu Dutta-Yean’s works and being a fan of them, I feared that this book might be a letdown because I am not a big fan of stories about mystical beings or those set in the jungle.
I needn’t have worried. Dutta-Yean has not disappointed. From the first chapter, Rigih And The Witch Of Moon Lake is a page-turner. It’s a quick read and your pre-teen and teenage kids will not want to put it down for needing to know what happens next.
This book can be read as a sequel to the first book or as a standalone.
The black and white illustrations are few but help readers picture what the characters look like and even serve to get readers to empathise with characters.
The Tapoh family tree at the start of the book also helps readers to keep track of who is who.
Another good feature of the book is the glossary at the back of the book for words like pisacha and remaung.
Once again, Dutta-Yean has done a good job. She is a splendid storyteller who really takes the time to put in a lot of details into her stories and reel the reader in with her memorable characters and intriguing plot.
Kudos also to illustrator Tan Vay Fern for the beautiful drawings.