8 Frog Street

Fiction - Supernatural
294 Pages
Reviewed on 03/15/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite

Richie King had already seen his fair share of the unusual in Manila but it's the visit of a strange lady offering his family piano lessons that set him and his friend on a mission that would draw them into the world of the multi-millionaire business tycoon Lee Chan. Lee had emigrated from Fujian to the Philippines in search of a better life but little else is known about how he rose to the top of a business empire that would come to rival the government of the day. Richie and his friend are led to a cemetery with a million stories about spooks and zombies around it but their interest in one particular spook leads to a ghost story like no other in Rezaul Khan's 8 Frog Street.

Rezaul Khan's story about a business mogul's climb to the top is revealing. While it is a work of fiction, the way he incorporates the paranormal angle that Manila is famous for is simply delightful. His characters have deep origin stories that are tied to different aspects of Manila's rich history. The novel alternates between the comedic and the frightening, ramping up the fear factor as you progress through each chapter. I kept looking over my shoulder as I became immersed in this enthralling novel. The story in 8 Frog Street may be centered on Lee, but Isabella's coy antics make you wonder who is running the show. The book combines some of the best elements of drama, romance, and mystery in an elaborate manner, resulting in a one-of-a-kind novel that teases the imagination of the reader from start to finish. Kudos must go to the author for a beautiful piece of work.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Rezaul Khan’s 8 Frog Street is a fantasy novel mainly set in the Philippines. It tells the story of Lee Chan, a wealthy tycoon in Manila. Through narrator Richie King, we are immersed in the suspenseful and mysterious world of the supernatural as he becomes acquainted with Lee Chan. What starts as a casual friendship eventually becomes an exploration of the strange mysteries of Filipino superstitions and myths. King introduces us to a plethora of characters, from the real world to the supernatural, as he reveals the traditional tales and entities that proliferate in Filipino culture. We learn about Philippine mysticism, its effects on society, and how all of this is connected to Lee Chan, King’s neighbor. As we are immersed in the mysteries of Frog Street and Richie King’s investigation into the life of one of the richest tycoons in the Philippines, we realize that some things are not as they seem.

Rezaul Khan's 8 Frog Street, while being immersive overall, takes a little while to get going. The main narrative doesn’t begin until you reach the midpoint. In the first half, Richie King describes the various mysterious tales of Filipino folklore and mythology and their impact on the modern world. From here, the story builds up to the main event - Frog Street, where King’s mysterious neighbor resides. Although somewhat confusing at times, Khan’s folklore fantasy is still an enjoyable read. I was surprised by some historical facts about folklore and superstition in the Philippines. Despite some inconsistencies in structure, Khan makes up for this with interesting and intriguing characters who help paint a bigger picture that somehow pieces everything together. This is a good read if you are into history, mystery, and the paranormal.

K.C. Finn

Penned by author Rezaul Khan, 8 Frog Street is a work of fiction in the surrealist, paranormal and urban fantasy adventure subgenres. It is intended for both young adult and adult readers. In this quirky and darkly themed fantasy tale, we learn the legacy of Lee Chan, and how he rises from nothing to become a celebrated billionaire in Manila, the Philippines. Told by Lee’s neighbor, Richie King, the story takes surreal and unexpected fantasy twists as the protagonist and narrator interact with supernatural entities, spirits, and creatures beyond the normal proportions of the natural world. All of these interesting elements play a part in the secret to Lee’s amazing success.

Author Rezaul Khan has crafted an original work of surreal fiction that borrows from different genres and layers their influences together to form a really creative fantasy tale. One of the things that I really appreciated about the story was the connection to the Philippines and the cultural significance that the author places on the story and its characters. There’s a great heritage and belief system around Eastern spirits, ghosts, and spirituality that Khan develops into some new and unique forms for this story. I really loved the way that the passage of time is handled to deliver such a detailed origin story for Lee but to do so in a well-paced way that never gets dull. Overall, I would definitely recommend 8 Frog Street for fans of interesting life stories, cross-cultural fiction, and engrossing paranormal adventures.

Vincent Dublado

Rezaul Khan puts a fascinating fictional twist on his experiences living in Manila in his eerie fantasy novel 8 Frog Street. He writes about his Chinese-born tycoon neighbor, Lee Chan, and the bizarre mysteries surrounding his life that are shrouded in ancient Philippine lore and superstitions, many of which are still accepted today. Like many Chinese immigrants who came to the Philippines, Lee was from a poor family searching for a better life. He thrived in his new country, becoming a Forbes-listed multi-billionaire. Through local mysticism, the main protagonist Richie discovers that the spirit of Lee’s grandmother was largely instrumental in her grandson’s success. But there is more to Lee that Richie will uncover as the billionaire is facing marital issues and people trying to get a slice of his riches.

The story that Rezaul Khan offers in 8 Frog Street affected me deeply. As a Philippine local, the panoramic colors he presents are spot-on. The Philippines is a land of contrasts and Khan mirrors the experiences of many immigrants who go there to find fortune, yet not everyone is successful. His narrative style is so simple and easy to digest in that he blends ancient beliefs with contemporary mystery with ease. I surmise that Khan had a colorful time in the Philippines on account of his descriptions of interesting personalities who come from different walks of life. While the book is brilliantly presented as a fictionalized account, the situations strongly reflect the preoccupations and values of a culture that embraces both the past and the present. The attachment to the past as far as beliefs are concerned is likely to remain. This is a great story that I highly recommend to anyone interested in Asian studies or to those who simply want to immerse themselves in a good, supernatural tale.

Anelynde Smit

Rezaul Khan's 8 Frog Street is a haunting story narrated by Richie King, a new immigrant to the Philippines. He paints a vivid portrait of the superstitions and ghostly goings-on. Even though the story takes place in 2010, people still believe so many superstitions and stories about zombies. Richie doesn’t take this seriously until his own encounters baffle his rational mind. The most mysterious of these mysteries is the man who lives at 8 Frog Street, Mr. Lee Chan, who although in his nineties is still very active and successful. From humble beginnings in Fujian to his rise to power in Manila, this man is said to have a powerful spirit protecting him. The spirit of his grandmother Yu steers his life in all kinds of directions. From banking to grocery stores to a very mysterious industry creating bioweapons, this tycoon rubs shoulders with everyone from a diplomat to a gangster. Richie befriends the elderly Lee but knows nothing of his past, only about his family. They say when you come for the king, know he is well protected and I do not mean the armed guards outside the gates. There is also the story of Lea who appears and disappears when Richie’s daughter starts taking piano lessons. She lives in a cemetery but no one has heard of her.

Rezaul Khan's 8 Frog Street really struck a chord with me. His brilliant storytelling brings the characters to life. You believe Richie King to be a real man telling you a real story about Lee Chan and Lea. My favorite parts were, of course, the scary ones, where he described the old fortune teller and the spinning wood, and the ghostly sightings. One of the best parts was about the antang-antang, amulets you can buy from fortune tellers or occult stores which ward off evil or cause harm to others if used correctly. I immensely enjoyed this work; his descriptions of the Filipino culture were very realistic and I loved how the streets were named after animals where Richie lived. It added to the flavor of the story - everything is shrouded in mystery. This story will haunt your dreams because we might all have some experience with the other side. I highly recommend this book to horror and suspense lovers.