Book: The Ghost Bride
Author: Yangsze Choo
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Supernatural/Coming of Age
Summary: Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound. 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, traditional ghost marriages are used to placate restless spirits. 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 Lims’ 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. - HarperCollins, 2013
I bought this book years ago, when it was on Barnes & Noble’s Discover New Writers list. I wasn’t able to read it until now because I wasn’t able to get enough time to sit down and read.
Now that I have though, oh my goodness, this book is absolutely perfect!
I can’t go into details without spoiling anything, but it was an incredible read! If you have ever heard of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, this is like an adult version of that story. There’s lots of complications. It’s deeply rooted in culture and history. I absolutely couldn’t put it down. I loved it that much. It’s been a long time since I enjoyed reading a book so much and I want to read more of Yangsze Choo’s work. I’ve read on her blog that she’s open to a sequel so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping she takes that plunge. I want to know more about Li Lan (and the guy she ends up with).
The plot was perfect in pacing and depth. I never felt like the story was dragging or lacking. The characters are fully fleshed out and I loved reading about them. Li Lan is a fantastic heroine and Er Lang made my heart skip a beat. Choo also explains the cultural aspects of the story very well so that you’re not confused.
This is one of those stories where I would read it over and over again, as well as want to see it become a movie or a television show - though with my comment about it being similar to Spirited Away (a comment that is not unique to me as some research has shown), that might not be possible.
I have no criticisms about this book. It’s my idea of a perfect read and I’m hoping with all of my heart that there is a sequel.
I give The Ghost Bride a well-deserved A+.
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