#Review: THE GHOST BRIDE by Yangsze Choo
THE GHOST BRIDE
“One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”
Part 19th century novel, part magical journey to the Chinese world of the dead, Yangsze Choo’s debut novel The Ghost Bride is a startlingly original historical fantasy infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, and unexpected supernatural twists. Reminiscent of Lisa See’s Peony in Love and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, The Ghost Bride is a wondrous coming-of-age story from a remarkable new voice in fiction.
Oprah.com’s Book of the Week, Indie Next List pick, Good Housekeeping August Book Pick, Glamour Magazine Beach Read, The Bookseller Editor’s Pick, Library Journal Barbara’s Pick
“Choo’s clear and charming style creates an alternate
reality where the stakes are just as high as in the real world, combining
grounded period storytelling with the supernatural.” Publishers
“What makes all this work is the sumptuous world of Chinese émigré
culture and the love story that flows under it all–the kind so full of longing,
the pages practically sigh as you turn each one.” Oprah.com – Book of the
“‘The Ghost Bride’, an impressive first novel, takes
readers on one of the wildest rides since Alice fell down the rabbit
hole.” San Jose Mercury News
“Choo’s remarkably strong and arresting first novel
explores the concept of Chinese “spirit marriages” in
late-nineteenth-century Malaya through the eyes of the highly relatable Li
Lan…With its gripping tangles of plot and engaging characters, this truly
compelling read is sure to garner much well deserved attention.”
Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.
After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy–including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets–and the truth about her own family–before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.
I happened up The Ghost Bride while at the library the other day. The gorgeous cover caught my eye. My daughter gave me a mini lesson about Chinese culture and what a ghost bride is.
Li Lan is a teen girl whose mother passed away a long time ago. Her father has been offered a deal where his money troubles would go away IF his daughter, Li Lan, would marry the Lim family’s deceased son. The Lim’s are wealthy and they want their restless deceased son’s passage to the afterlife to be a calm one. The spirit marriage of the living to the deceased would be beneficial for everyone. Except Li Lan doesn’t want this arrangement and to make matters worse Lim Tian Ching (the deceased son of the wealthy Lims) is haunting Li Lan in her dreams.
“If I married Lim Tian Ching in a spirit wedding, it would satisfy almost everyone, I thought. Amah would have a better old age; my father’s debts would be canceled. …. while I was visited nightly by a ghost. I couldn’t bear it.”
Li Lan falls ill and while her body is sick she crosses over into the world her potential husband haunts her from. In this, afterlife she sets out on a mission to find out why the Lim family is insistent she marry their dead son. Along the way, she crosses paths with many spiritual beings. Her world is twisted upside down from all discoveries she makes as she tries to reenter her unconscious body.
THE GHOST BRIDE is a standalone book. It’s the author’s debut novel – published in 2013. I had both the book and audio from the library. The author narrators the audio and I really enjoyed listening to it. I was excited to find out that Netflix is making this into six-episode drama. You can see a Netflix preview below.
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