Ameen Kreatif, RM12.90, ISBN 978983-3991-38-9
I bought Nambai’s Bomoh & Spells ages ago, along with the other two books in his trilogy of Malaysian supernatural woo-woo and legends, but this one somehow went missing. One of the nicer things about moving house is that I come across things that I thought I had lost, and this is one of those things. Hence, after a little bit more than twelve years, I finally manage to complete my review of the trilogy. Awesome.
Despite the title – bomoh is the Malay word for witch doctors – this one is more of an “anything goes” affair rather than a focused subject matter book, with the topics here overlapping with those in the other books. Still, it remains an entertaining entry as always, with the author presenting the various supernatural topics in this one as anecdotes coming from friends and family members, even strangers, while injecting his occasional opinion here and there.
Most interesting, to me, is the first chapter, Grave Peculiarities, which touches on the supernatural aspects in Malay burial customs. We have corpses of martyrs and pious people which never rot over time, as well as monstrous, still-bleeding corpses of wicked people. There are also prophetic dreams of those whose time is up, premonitions, battles between evil and holy witch doctors, and so forth. This is the closest one would get to old school Malay horror stories, and the author manages to make this section fun and perhaps a little bit frightening at the same time.
The rest of the book is all over the place, though. The section on the supernatural tricks used by people to improve their business while sabotaging their rivals’ are common knowledge among most Malaysians, but it’s fun to see them being brought up. I wonder what people outside of Malaysia would think after reading these chapters, though – they will probably be frightened of consuming foodstuff while they are here, heh. There are also chapters of famous haunted places and retreads like pontianak and such, and these rely more heavily on the author’s voice and style to carry them to the finish line.
Bomoh & Spells isn’t a necessary read when one already has read the other two books, but still, the entire trilogy is a must-have for fans of local superstition, if only for the fact that we don’t find many books on these topics these days. The fact that the author has a nice, breezy style is cherry on top. Sure, it’s not thorough or comprehensive, but it’s a quick and pleasant distraction when one has time to kill.