Title and Author: Iban Dream by Golda Mowe
Name of Reviewer: Anna Tan
Reason for choice of rating:
The story deals with native Bornean beliefs, which include headhunting and blood sacrifices, though they are not described in detail.
Iban Dream is the story of a young Iban boy left to fend for himself after the shaman of his longhouse ordered for him to be cast out because of an evil spirit. Adopted by Tok Anjak, respected leader of the Orang Utan, as a child and claimed by Sengalang Burong, the warpath god, in his adulthood, Bujang Maias must reconcile his peaceful upbringing by the apes with the violence required of him as a warrior and headhunter.
In this fanciful tale, Mowe offers a glimpse into the ancient beliefs of the headhunting Ibans. Legends come to life as Bujang discovers his heritage and his half-forgotten adat (customs) through his conversations with the gods, the spirits, the animals, and the augur of the longhouse that he eventually comes to lead.
Mowe's writing is style is simple, capturing the innocence of Bujang and the rural naïveté of the Ibans as they come into contact with the deceptions and depravity of life outside their jungle for the first time. There is a distinctive sound to the way she writes, as if she is one of the story tellers of old, narrating according to the oral tradition.
Although the blurb describes it as "fantasy fiction" drawing on the real beliefs, taboos and terminology of the Ibans in Borneo, the book itself reads like a mix between folktales and mythology. Iban Dream, with its animistic, tribalistic framework may be a little jarring for readers used to white epic fantasy.
Those interested in folklore
Paranormal, Spiritual, Coming-of-Age, Folklore, Mythology, Quests
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