Curse of the Anito
by Isabelle R. Duffy
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
Print Length: 204 pages
Reviewed by Elizabeth Zender
A thought-provoking novel of ancient evils buried just beneath the surface
Angela has spent the summer with her family in the Philippines, learning about her culture and seeking some sort of belonging. When her grandmother says that she will help Angela learn the family’s healing practices, she is overjoyed. Her mother had denied the opportunity, but Angela is ready to take in more knowledge about her cultural heritage. She wants to remember the traditions of her family, even if some may find them superstitious. The summer has been full of good food, happy family, and the opportunity to learn.
However, a dark and ancient power has a far different plan for Angela. She wakes in the night to find the Anito, an old God, at the foot of her bed, telling her she has been chosen, that she has a destiny to fulfill.
This is the first of a number of terrifying encounters for Angela, ones she cannot escape even when she flies back home to Australia. If given the chance to learn more about where you came from, would you take it? Would you take it even if it meant accidentally awakening an ancient deity? Isabella R Duffy sends readers on a captivating adventure alongside Angela in Ancestral Shadow: Curse of the Anito.
Duffy’s novel is full of self-discovery, familial love, and the need for cultural connection. In Angela’s storyline, readers feel the push and pull of what is modern and what is tradition. When she returns to Australia, Angela is met with confusion mixed with good intentions on the part of her friends and her mother. At first, it is hard for them to understand how she left a devout Catholic and returned with newfound belief in indigenous religious practices. Nevertheless, Angela finds support in the face of danger. Even though her mother did not wish to learn about the ancient healing practices, she puts Angela’s safety above her own beliefs.
In this day and age, we are often faced with the difficulties of assimilation into the dominant culture and denial of our heritage. Duffy explores this through Angela’s struggle with the Anito; we don’t know much about Angela’s life before her stay in the Philippines, but it’s obvious that her family and her ancestry is important to her now, possibly because of how she lived before her visit. The deeper into her heritage she goes, the more aggressive the Anito becomes in his quest to use Angela for his own needs. This journey of self-discovery will have young adult readers thankful for its nuance and ever-looming danger.
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