Published by William Morrow on August 6th 2013
Genres: Fiction, Ghost, Historical
Yangsze Choo’s stunning debut, The Ghost Bride, is a startlingly original novel infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, and unexpected supernatural twists. Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride” for their son, who has 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 what price? Night after night, Li Lan is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where she must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family. Reminiscent of Lisa See’s Peony in Love and Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter, The Ghost Bride is a wondrous coming-of-age story and from a remarkable new voice in fiction.
The Ghost Bride is one of those books that I can’t even begin to describe just how beautiful, how perfect it is. The setting, both of the living and the dead, felt so real and enticing. I almost want to cross over the Plains of the Dead myself (no, actually that’s scary).
It is not, by all means, a fast paced story with tons of action or heightened drama around every corner. And it was not at all what I was expecting when I read the synopsis (I thought there was going to be a heavier romance aspect when it came to the ‘groom’). Though my suspicions were incorrect, I adored everything about The Ghost Bride. There’s such beauty in the subtleness of how the story is written, with no lack of suspense and the showcase of vivid emotions of the characters.
I was genuinely worried for Li Lan throughout the book because there was never that sense of “well, she’s obviously going to be fine.” The Ghost Bride tells us and Li Lan learns that in life and even in death there is tragedy. And in the end, Li Lan has to make a choice. One that I happily agree with!
While the book is perfect how it is, I’d love a sequel.