What's a pelesit? Find out in Hanna Alkaf's new book, which comes out this August


Hanna's second novel has been described as a 'Malaysian folk tale come to life'. It will be targeted at the middle-grade audience. Photo: Filepic

Last year, author Hanna Alkaf, 35, made waves in the publishing scene with the release of her first novel The Weight Of Her Sky, which received acclaim both locally and internationally.

On Aug 4, Hanna is set to release her new book The Girl And The Ghost, which explores themes of jealousy, love, and the extraordinary power of friendship.

“A Malaysian folk tale comes to life in this emotionally layered, chilling middle-grade debut,” reads the description of the book on the author’s website.

"Middle-grade" fiction usually refers to books for readers aged between eight and 12.

The Girl And The Ghost is the tale of Suraya, a young girl who is delighted after her witch grandmother gives her a pelesit. A pelesit is a spirit from Malay folklore, often said to take the form of a grasshopper or cricket. Suraya names the pelesit ‘Pink’, and the two become friends.

“But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side – and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive, before they are both lost to the darkness, ” continues the book's preview.

The Girl And The Ghost is published by Harper Collins, with cover art designed by Anastasia Surorova.

Hanna’s The Weight Of Our Sky, was published by Salaam Reads, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. This year, it won the Young Adult/High School Category award at the Freeman Book Awards.

The Girl And The Ghost has received positive early reviews, and has been selected by the Junior Library Guild, a leading book review and collection development service.

“Delightfully gruesome, humourous, haunted and heart wrenching, The Girl And The Ghost is an intense tale of grief, family, friendship and forgiveness”, reads a review from Robin Yardi, author of The Midnight War Of Mateo Martinez.

During the movement control order (MCO) period, Hanna was one of the key members behind the online initiative #kitajagakita, which verified and listed public/private initiatives done on the ground to help vulnerable communities and medical frontliners through the MCO.

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