My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hantu Macabre started off great. Suzanna Sim, the half-American, half-Malaysian protagonist is based in George Town, Penang, so I started off loving the Penang vibes. The setting is described with so much detail and love that you can tell that Girardi really did enjoy living here. There's a series of grizzly murders and Sim sets off to solve them with the help of her assistant, a toyol named Tokek. Some of the cases take Sim to other parts of Malaysia as well, but I felt those places weren't described with as much care or detail as she did George Town.
The thing that ultimately felt off to me was the way it was written and/or structured. The series of murders are all interconnected, but in many ways, it felt like a bunch of short stories/novelettes that were put together instead of a cohesive novel.
Part I, the one titled "Hantu Macabre" itself, felt like the best part of the book.
Part II was a leeeeetle bit too outlandish for me, involving magical Japanese swords and undying generals from the Japanese occupation. But whatever. Here's where we figure out who the recurring antagonist is, and that she's going to be the actual main nemesis in this book.
Part III flipped back to a more Malaysian paranormal crime feel, and also reveals more about Suzanna Sim's past. It's the most substantial part of the book and should've probably been the climax. See, there was this big black magic event that happens and felt like it could be the Big Battle but it doesn't... end... there.
In Part IV, Sim spends a lot of time doing nothing especially interesting before the final show down happens. It does, however, also solve the mystery of Sim's past besides resolving the main crime issue of the whole book. And then it ends on a line, which I guess sets it up to have more books in the series.
Ultimately, I felt like, as a novel, Hantu Macabre started off with great promise but kind of petered out.
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I've been behind on posting reviews, so I figured eh, whatever, I'll post even if it's not a Wednesday. lol. So, bonus post, I guess? Or belated one.
This one's for October's TBR challenge. I have a couple of ARCs to read this week for books that are releasing in October, so I'll probably be skipping the stretch goal.
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