Review: Hamra and the Jungle of Memories by Hanna Alkaf

Hamra and the Jungle of Memories by Hanna Alkaf

Hamra and the Jungle of Memories
Hanna Alkaf
Published March 28, 2023

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About Hamra and the Jungle of Memories

A Malaysian spin on Little Red Riding Hood from the critically acclaimed author of The Girl and the Ghost, Hanna Alkaf.

Courage is the strongest magic there is.

On Hamra’s thirteenth birthday, she receives nothing but endless nagging and yet another errand to run in the Langkawi jungle that looms behind her home.

No one has remembered her special day.

And so, stifled and angry, Hamra ignores something she shouldn’t: the rules of the jungle.

Always ask permission before you enter. Hamra walks boldly in.

Never take what isn’t yours. Hamra finds the most perfect jambu and picks it.

Of course, rules exist for a reason, and soon an enormous weretiger is stalking her dreams, demanding payment for her crimes–and Hamra embarks on a quest deep into the jungle to set things right.

For fans of Ikegna and A Tale Dark and Grimm comes a story of a brave heroine, a beguiling villain, fantastical worlds, magical adventures, and a journey that will remind you that hope, friendship, and love endures all.

Hamra and the Jungle of Memories on Goodreads

My Review

What a fun story! Hamra’s adventure in the jungle swept me away. I loved the way the story is introduced. In a few places, the narrator kind of steps back and tells us things about what’s coming. Sometimes that mechanic doesn’t work for me, but it really felt like it was a good fit for this particular story.

I loved the relationship between Hamra and her grandmother. It was heartbreaking to see the divide between them caused by her memory issues and her illness. Her hopefulness when her grandmother had a moment of clarity made me cry every time. I can remember so deeply feeling the same ache with my grandmother during her illness, too.

I also really loved the dynamics in the friendship between Hamra and Ilyas, her best friend and neighbor. He’s so nerdy and sweet in all the best ways. I loved his loyalty and also the moments he pushes back on Hamra when she’s getting to be too controlling. We all need someone in our lives who can remind us to be our better selves, and he definitely does that for Hamra without rescuing her or mentoring her, just being her friend.

The way the story explores Little Red Riding Hood is really cool, too. At first glance, it may not seem to be much the same story, but as you look closer, there are a lot of similarities, so I loved the way the author created those parallels in less obvious ways. For example, Hamra lives with her grandmother, so her quest through the jungle isn’t about bringing a basket of goodies to her grandmother’s house. But for Hamra, the whole goal of the quest is to provide a cure for her grandmother’s dementia– helping her grandmother get well.

All in all, I thought this was a really clever, deeply immersive story with so much heart. I think readers who enjoyed THE PLENTIFUL DARKNESS by Heather Krassner or THE FIREBIRD SONG by Arnee Flores will love the strong characters and atmospheric storytelling of HAMRA AND THE JUNGLE OF MEMORIES.

Hamra and the Jungle of Memories on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Hamra and other characters are Malaysian.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
One instance of mild profanity.

Romance/Sexual Content
A man and woman kiss on the mouth.

Spiritual Content
Hamra wears a hijab. She mentions daily prayers and practices Islam. She and her allies visit places and people from Malay folktales, like ghosts or elves.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. A group of men with spears surround Hamra and her friends. Multiple creatures threaten them. A tiger attacks its enemies. Hamra and her friends have to pull all the teeth from a dangerous creature.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of HAMRA AND THE JUNGLE OF MEMORIES in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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