Monday, June 25, 2012

Books I read: Shadow Play by Barbara Ismail

My colleague first told me about this book, which is about a mystery set in Kelantan (a north-east state in Malaysia).
I heard the words mak cik (which means aunty/ ajumma) sleuth and I was sold! I just have to read it.

One would expect a makcik to be investigating stolen chickens or stolen kain songket (songket cloth) but no, this gutsy lady is already tackling a murder that happened in her own backyard in this first book in the series.
A new police chief was put in charge of the case but face difficulties due to his lack of understanding of the local culture and dialect (Kelantanese is a local dialect spoken in Kelantan and not many Malaysians can speak/ understand it).

I love a good mystery and this story sure has some interesting elements: a murdered man who had two wives, dubious characters, and some black magic thrown in. Juicy!
The language makes for easy reading that even teens (or maybe even elementary school kids) would be able to understand.

I am now a fan of the main character Mak Cik Maryam, what with her take-charge attitude and ability to switch to a motherly figure in order to get people to open up to her.
I love the fact that she is not a stereotypical iron lady who do not show her emotion easily; this mak cik has shed tears during a conflict but soon regained her strength to overcome the adversities.
What I love is the use of Malay terms and idioms in the story, which adds a Malay touch, making this book both an interesting and educational read.
For those who do not understand Bahasa Malaysia, fret not, there are only few Malay words used and the terms are explained in the Glossary page. 
Tahi Itik, which means duck shit, was mentioned in the story and I was glad to learn from the glossary page that is a type of Kelantanese sweet cake (I don't think duck shit is a delicacy ><).
There are currently six books in the series, namely Shadow Play, Princess Play, Songbird, Moon Kite, Western Chanting, amd Little Axe.
I'm looking forward to the second one :)

*disclaimer: these are merely my personal opinion. please don't throw a tantrum if you do not like the product stated or agree with what I said. Cheers ;)

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