All is not well on the tiny Malaysian island where our story takes place. Maybe something bad happened here long ago… or maybe the near future holds a dark fate for the villagers under the protection of Marsiti, the local healer. Whether the sense of menace in the air comes from supernatural causes or from the oppressive presence of Dutch colonialists on the island is a subject of heated debate in the village, as farmers and merchants continue about their daily routines. When a woman is murdered and a baby disappears, Marsiti is the only one who recognizes the ominous traces of their killer. Marsiti’s knowledge of healing and “the old ways” of magic lead her towards the solution of the village’s mystery, but as she comes closer to revealing the evil in their midst, the townspeople’s fear and anger threaten to overwhelm their judgement.
Garlands of Moonlight, a pocket-sized story, is distinguished by Shoto Press’ characteristically gilded artwork. Wasisto Edi’s pencil drawings, illuminated with metallic silver, make every landscape ghostly. Individual characters seem to shine with an inner light as they move through darkened surroundings, heightening the story’s feeling of oppression. This is definitely a ghost story, and like the best around-the-campfire tales of its kind, we’re left with a lingering sense of dread after the last page.