Beau­ti­ful page-turner

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS - Rigih And The Witch Of Moon Lake (The Ju­gra Chron­i­cles #2) Tutu Dutta-Yean Tan Vay Fern MPH, 148 pages, fic­tion Re­view by BRIGITTE ROZARIO star2@thes­tar.com.my

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.

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