2015 Book #68 – The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

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Title: The Ghost Bride
Author: Yangsze Choo
Date finished: 7/5/15
Genre:  Historical/paranormal fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Pages in book: 354
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

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 NeverwhereThe Ghost Bride is a wondrous coming-of-age story from a remarkable new voice in fiction.
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.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I saw this book awhile ago I think it was in a previous publication of Book Page but I can’t remember for sure. I thought the premise behind this novel sounded extremely interesting, a woman being pledged to marry a ghost. There was a lot of information in the book about the cultures at that time in Malacca (where the book was set, which apparently is another term for an area in Malaysia). Li Lan lost her mother to small pox when she was very young, and the disease also left her father disfigured and he became something of a recluse. It is because of this that Li Lan does not have a marriage arranged for her when she comes of age. And even further, Li Lan’s father doesn’t seem to do anything for which and smokes just too much opium every night so they don’t really have any money at all. So when the Lim family offers for Li Lan to be their recently deceased son’s ghost bride, while not ideal, it is an offer than is hard for her father to turn away.
Soon after this offer is made, Li Lan begins having dreams of the deceased son where he basically demands that she marry him. Overall though it is really creepy and I can’t blame her for saying no way. Things go from bad to worse though and the story continues through the spirit world including it’s funeral customs.
I found this book very interesting. It was different from anything I have ever read before and included a lot of new information on foreign superstitions and customs. The characters in the book were frustrating at times and there some slightly wordy parts but the plot was interesting and kept me engaged throughout the story. The description of the spirit world was fascinating and while I thought Li Lan was a bit flip-floppy, I liked the ending.
The bottom line: I would recommend this book because I found it to be different from the norm and interesting.
Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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