HarperCollins US|September 1, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-222732-4
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 favourable 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.
The Ghost Bride, was an exhilarating ride through the afterlife in Malacca, China. I felt throughout the book that I was being pulled up a huge hill and then let down for a wild ride on the other side. Over and over throughout the book I was on this amazing journey.
Li Lan, was the only daughter of a bankrupt business man whose mother had already passed away years before. Her grandmother lived with them and doted on Li Lan as her father was usually too buzzed out on opium to even carry a conversation with her.
One day, Li Lan’s father asked her if she wanted to become a “ghost bride” which apparently was a folk tradition of marriages to ghosts in order to satisfy the spirits or allay a haunting. In other words, a living woman would be married to a dead man with a real wedding taking place with a “rooster” standing in for the dead bridegroom!
Of course, Li Lan thought her father was joking but he was dead serious. He had been approached by a member of the Lim family, the wealthiest family in all of Malacca. If he agreed to Li Lan marrying their dead son, Lim Tiang Ching, they would pay off all his debts and provide himself and the grandmother with a comfortable living. Li Lan would live out her days in a beautiful mansion with servants at her beck and call and the all the riches she could ever hope for. Li Lan did not think this was a good idea at all and said she would not ever consent to doing that.
Then, Lim Tiang Ching began invading her dreams from the other side, even showing her the beautifully decorated reception hall done in red. Li Lan told Lim Tiang Ching it wasn’t going to happen, that she would never marry him.
Li Lan ends up visiting the Lim mansion and becomes even more haunted by Lim Tiang Ching but also lays eyes on Ching’s new heir, Tian Bai whom she found exceedingly handsome.
Night after night, Li Lan is drawn into the afterlife. She meets Fan, a long deceased spirit she sort of befriends who helps, Li Lan but ends up turning against her later. She meets Er Lang who is not of this world either but a guardian spirit, and Master Awyoung whom I despised, along with a host of other worldly spirits.
Li Lan’s trek through the ‘Plains of the Dead’ had me biting my fingernails and glancing around the room I was reading in every few minutes. The puppet servants scared me to death.
Can Li Lan find out the secrets of the Lim family before her spirit is out of her body too long and is trapped in the ghostly world forever?
Believe me, The Ghost Bride will keep you reading long after bedtime.