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Creatures of Near Kingdoms
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Creatures of Near Kingdoms

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Zedeck Siew's feverishly imaginative prose intertwines with Sharon Chin's stunning lino prints and pattern designs.

Sometimes fantastical fancy, at other times of nightmarish quality, the book catalogues the flora and fauna in and around Malaysia. From worms that live in your digital devices, to ants and crows that explode - these 75 creatures surely do not exist, but they
Paperback, 158 pages
Published 2018 by Maple Comics
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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Zen Cho
An inventive and delightful illustrated bestiary of imagined Malaysian flora and fauna, threaded through with sly humour.
Alyssa J.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fuhh, finally done! I have so many mixed feelings about this book.

For one, I truly enjoyed it. It reads like an encyclopaedia for magical creatures in Malaysia. I love reading Malaysian things and being able to say "heh, I know what you mean!". This book is like if "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them" took place in Malaysia.

Hell Dog was definitely one of my favourites, but Ghost Cat sure tugged at the heartstrings. Also, I wish Giant Skunk Pleco was a real being.

Has a good kick out of watch
Anis Suhaila
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
What Zedeck managed to do was letting us see the world through his eyes, but at the same time made us think these are all what we have been thinking about all along. Each creature feels like a micro fiction of its own. Every word carefully selected, every sentence carefully constructed.
Patrick Stuart
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pick up the book in your hands.

It's light, pages near-translucent. Strong black marks of monochrome pictures show through the text from the un-flipped page beyond.

The cover is luxuriant, a royal purple, it flexes and flops in your hand. The urge to bend it is near-irresistible!

It is written in second-person like cookbooks, choose-your-own adventure texts and a handful of literary experiments. Very fancy and unusual!

Who is the "you" in the book? You seem to change gender (by inference at least)
Mushisho Azhar
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's an interesting collection of fictional "creatures" inspired by real ones. Each has a certain origin or trait that really makes one think deeply, as it is usually a cloaked commentary on the happenings in Malaysia. The art inside is also really exquisite, I was surprised to learn that they're linoprints, and not digital art. ...more
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The last time I read this kind of book in a Malaysian context was The Malaysian Book of the Undead. Both books are encyclopedias of fantastic creatures endemic of our country, so many were immediately familiar to most and possibly even sighted by others.

As a book, 'Creatures of Near Kingdoms' presents itself as one-page entries by Zedeck Siew, accompanied by a woodcut illustration by Sharon Chin. All 75 of them.

I read somewhere else that this book spent a long time in the making, and I think it
Syar S Alia
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: illustrated
This was such a delightful rollicking read. Each story is a page long, but it's packed with so much detail and atmosphere that it doesn't feel too short at all. Each story was a perfectly packed spoon of nasi lemak, to use an entirely Malaysian cliche because this book makes me feel so very connected to my roots and surroundings here in the Nusantara, where the bite is balanced and has a bit of everything and just right. A fair amount of the stories had a sense of menace, danger, haunting, while ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ok, that was not what I was expecting, and all for the best. The book describes various plants and animals that are similar to the plants and animals we know, but then there are not. There are Firecracker Crows, Tropical Rock Maples, Allergy Bunnies, Auntie Wasps and many more. Each one is a story of its own, where you've just met one of this amazing creatures. And each one is accompanied by a beautiful illustration, which you come back to now and then while reading. ...more
Faidz Zainal Abidin
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it

Encyclopedia-ish. Quite an interesting read.
Ian McDougall
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book is ~160 pages, paperback, liberally illustrated with woodcuts. There are 25 flora and 50 fauna inside, with each described on the right-hand page via a short second-person vignette with ecological digressions, and illustrated on the left-hand page. It could be described as a bestiary of a near-future mythical Malaysia.
I loved this book. The second-person narration seems strange at first, but it quickly becomes very comfortable, like the voice you talk to yourself in your head with. I do
Anna Tan
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: malaysiana, sea
Creatures of Near Kingdoms is a beautifully illustrated bestiary of Malaysian flora and fauna. Each one-page description is accompanied by a full-page illustration or lino print.

It's whimsical. And fantastic. And witty.

And occasionally confusing if you're trying too hard to figure out The Point.

It's best read in short bursts. Take it as a collection of microfiction, if you will.
Herinza Syadza
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another book that took me months to finish, simply because I appreciate bits by bits of the story.

I usually finish a page and sip the freshness and go deep inside my thoughts. Satisfying read.
Celine Wu
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've always been a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction, so this book immediately drew my interest when I found out about it. Now, I've read compendiums of fantasy creatures before, but this is unique of course because it focuses on South-East Asia and Malaysia, more specifically.

What I enjoyed the most was discovering the quiet creativity of Zedeck Siew. Rather than retell stories of pontianak and other local beings, all of the fantastic flora and fauna in the book were unknown to me, all n
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had to special order this from Malaysia, but I'm very glad I did. This is a unique book that blends beautiful illustrations with a kind of prose poetry. Together, the book is a kind of bestiary - not your typical RPG monster book, but a magical realist take on the concept. What I liked best about it is how author Zedeck Siew transports the reader into everyday Malaysia through his short but superb descriptions of flora and fauna. Highly recommended for open-minded readers, and worth the wait i ...more
Derek Lim
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love the book. Gorgeous, detailed illustrations. The descriptions of the creatures were mythic, mysterious, at times alluring and creepy, but nevertheless still feels every bit as magical as both Zedeck and Sharon intended. Really tough to pick a favorite but if I had to, 'Rainmaker Frog' made me smile the most.

Volume 2 please, if you will.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The art is great and the descriptions convey a sense of place that makes me want drop every other creature or plant into a roleplaying game, although it'd be more challenging to use some of them as active parts of plot hooks. ...more
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
zedeck siew introduces a hidden world page by horrifying page - coupled with delightful illustrations by sharon chin - i am intrigued & terrified & i cannot help but believe every word.
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Provocative prose rich with imagery, humour, and questions readers regarding what we actually know about the flora and fauna around us. About how they are creatures with their own stories to tell.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Gorgeously, beautifully weird but oh so recognizable to Southeast Asians.
Carlyn Booi
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For those who see or want to see the magical in inanimate objects and living beings around us.
Charis Loke
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Sep 27, 2019
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Woolfie Silvanus
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Lily Pierce
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Cheyenne Phillips
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Mar 03, 2021
Kasey Rackowitz
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Dec 25, 2018
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Oct 14, 2020
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Nadia Rosli
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Nov 23, 2018
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Zedeck Siew is a writer based in Port Dickson. He has been a journalist, essayist, editor, and game designer. He writes short fiction in English and translates from Malay. Creatures of Near Kingdoms is his first book.

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