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It’s book review time!

The Sister's and Manco's Stories written by Jan Carew

The Sister’s and Manco’s Stories written by Jan Carew

I have had this book with me for awhile now. I won’t say where I got it from because it might incriminate me in a court of law. *eh-hem*

Anyway, had I known it would have been this pleasant to read I would have read it a lot sooner.

Written by Jan Carew from our neighbouring Guyana, the book is separated into two parts. The first half being, The Sisters and the second part, Manco’s Stories. The stories are based off of Guyanese folklore, which is a fusion of Amerindian and African mythology. Yes, I copied that directly from the synopsis at the back of the book.

Yes, I did.

Oh yes, I did.

The first thing that stuck out for me in this book were the descriptions. This is how every English teacher wants their students to write! From the very beginning the metaphors are rampant.

Excerpt (From the FIRST page!!):

And, from its source in mountains that wore a permanent headdress of clouds and snow, the Great River wound its way through all four regions like a golden serpent. Fed by hidden springs and melting snows, it gathered strength and rushed with a breathless ardour through green valleys, tumbled down a succession of rocky staircases, and its white water spilled over steep escarpments as waterfalls

This ‘breathless ardour’ for storytelling continued for the whole book. It was strangely dizzying but at the same time drew me in like a magnet. Completely engaged, I even walked with it during my lunch hour. While it did make me look intriguing at the food court.



I just really wanted to keep reading and my regular ‘reading while I commute’ practice wasn’t enough! It has been so long since I’ve read a book with such lovely, engaging descriptions. Most reads these days are written in the casual tongue because the times have changed.

I’m sure there was a time when words like ‘escarpment’ was littered in regular, every day conversation and vocabulary but no one speaks like this much anymore so why should people write like this much anymore, right? Rhetorical question.

And the book’s not even that old. According to the publishing information it was first published in 2002. It really reminded me of the classic old literature books I used to read as a child though. The same beautiful, captivating descriptions.

But back to the actual stories.

I really enjoyed the first part. The Sisters. At first I thought that it would be about Elana having to learn to become a better person under the wings of her grandmother despite everyone loving her because of her beauty so she could eventually be a kinder queen than her mother. But I quickly realised it was going to be much more about her sister Marta’s awakening to her own strengths more than anyone else.

But all in all it was really about both sisters at the end of the day and I encourage everyone to read this story. It feels like a fairy tale almost with the two banished princesses but still has the classic feel of old fables which tell of what really should matter in life like kindness over beauty, mutual respect over blind esteem for those in authority. And what will happen to those who make the mistake and choose the wrong one. Yup, morals! But like a good story it was shown, not told. Which I like.

The second part, Manco’s Stories, on the other hand while just as engaging in the descriptive department felt more like authentic folklore. There was lots of talk of gods and their children and how they interacted with each other and us poor mortals. Manco himself seemed to be a man-god who would come down and tell stories to the people every season, hence the second part being called Manco’s Stories.

There were six stories in this section my favourite being The Sky-God and the Sun Children. Many of the stories depicted the weather and elements like the wind and thunder as if they were real beings or animals like great birds, but I particularly liked this one because it reflected a lesson that I had set during my writing camp which required the same thing. Writing as if everything has a mind and a soul, from the wind to the sun to the rivers and create actual conversation between them.

All in all, the book was very well written. And I would refer it to anyone looking for an experience in folklore from other countries.

– Written by Travesaou

Copyright © 2010-2015 Critics May Lie All Rights Reserved


So I normally put a link where you can get the book but forgot this time because I was literally falling asleep on myself while writing this at one in the morning. O_O !! But I am wide awake now! So here it is! See link below!

The Sister’s and Manco’s Stories by Jan Carew published by Macmillan Caribbean Writers