Book review: True Singapore Ghost Stories Book 26 is chillingly awesome

The latest book in the series is the first released in three years and our writer thinks it was worth the wait.

Naren Lee Sankar

Nostalgic man, never giving up. Loves cartoons

Published: 5 January 2021, 11:57 AM

True Singapore Ghost Stories started in 1989 and three years after Book 25, the 26th book in the series was released on Dec 24, 2020. And it begs the question: Was it worth the wait?

My love for the book series began when I first read Book 6 at 14 in 2007. That book contained a story called The Devil’s Child, one so disturbing that in subsequent reprints of Book 6, it was rewritten.

I was even featured on the back page of Book 17 when the book series author, Russell Lee, came to my secondary school that year too.

I was 14 when this photo was taken. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/NAREN SANKAR

The history I have with the book series, coupled with my fascination with ghost stories, meant that I’ve always had high expectations for the True Singapore Ghost Stories. Thankfully, Book 26 did not disappoint.

Much like the other books in the series, Book 26 draws readers in by describing things so well that readers can picture what they are reading.

The lead story, The Silat Princess, was particularly relatable to me because it was written by someone claiming to be a former journalist. That shows in his lengthy story, in which he really described every scene vividly.

In the story, he described how while on holiday in Malaysia, his son went missing and when he was found, the son claimed to have been taught silat by the legendary princess, Walinong Sari.

The princess had been watching over the family for years and by the tale’s end, his wife, who had been suffering from cancer, was cured and the son changed for the better, becoming more disciplined and focused than he had been before.

Beyond the fact that so many details were packed in the story, I found the fact that Walinong Sari reached out to help a family in need very touching.

Walinong Sari has a folk song detailing her whole tale. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK/TRUE SINGAPORE GHOST STORIES

That said, not all stories in Book 26 were of the heartwarming nature.

A story in Book 26 that I found really creepy is the Revenge of the Pontianak. The story tells the tale of an expat who had an affair with a lady, who later died while undergoing an illegal abortion.

The expat, believing that his affair had just ended without any consequences, felt happy about it, but little did he know, he was very mistaken about it.

That story reminded me to always respect friends and family. For the superstitious ones, the story also advises you to not look up at a tree at night or make eye contact if you spot something in the tree – it was how the pontianak in the tale spotted her old “lover”.

A pontianak is the ghost of a woman who died at childbirth. PHOTO CREDIT: TWITTER/@CRYPTKEEPPOD

Another highlight in Book 26 is the Russell Lee Investigates section – this time about the concept of Chinese Hell. That section discusses the 10 courts of hell and the 18 levels of hell, which gave me a better appreciation of a certain place in Singapore (no spoilers though!).

Overall, I would say that True Singapore Ghost Stories Book 26 has the right amount of creepy, touching and entertaining stories to keep readers invested. There are even lessons to be learnt.

So yes, Book 26 was definitely worth the wait, although I sure hope I wouldn’t need to wait another three years for the next book!

True Singapore Ghost Stories Book 26 is now available at major bookstores in Singapore.

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