The Ghost Bride

The Ghost Bride

A Novel

eBook - 2013
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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.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, 2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780062227386
0062227386
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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akzfineart
Oct 13, 2017

I absolutely loved THE GHOST BRIDE by Yangsze Choo. I ended up listening to the audiobook, read by the author. The writing is really lovely, I couldn't stop reading/listening to the story and the author did a fantastic performance re: reading the book. Audiobooks are usually a hit or miss for me, but this was probably my best experience yet. Another great thing about the author reading the book, I got to hear how the characters sound to Yangsze, which was pretty cool.

Li Lan was a very interesting protagonist. Sometimes things would happen to her and she'd act totally calm or she'd go do things she probably shouldn't. Half of it was probably bravery and if she didn't do them the plot wouldn't move along but the other half was like curiosity or something. So I'd be like "no don't do that" but also "why are you doing this *very confused*". So I liked the protagonist but I also had mixed feelings re: her actions. Li Lan doing certain things that were obviously a bad idea didn't create suspense but confusion.

I'm torn between giving this a 4 or 4.5/5 stars. I would also categorize this book as historical fiction with fantastical elements. The story was very captivating and I didn't want to stop listening to the audio. My favourite part was probably part 2 or 3, when the MC was exploring the afterlife. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the ending - it kind of ended on a cliffhanger. This may be an effect of listening to the audiobook so I plan to check out a physical copy; I might get a sense of closure that way.

The book does use the slur c*olie a few times and while technically accurate (the book is set in 19th century colonial Malaysia) I think the author should have acknowledged it's a slur. I'm not 100% sure if it was necessary, considering the MC doesn't think of those in a different class as below or less than her.

This book is also told from the POV of an upper class Chinese woman (I think she's around 18?) living in colonial Malaysia. The family have fallen on hard times, so they aren't exactly rich but have been able to (mostly) hide their debt and still have a good name. It should've probably been acknowledged the sort of privilege the MC has over other classes of people living in 19th century colonial Malaysia.

KateHillier Apr 11, 2016

Li Lan's family is not doing so great financially, her father seems to prefer smoking opium to actually managing his house and affairs, and there have been no real efforts to socialize her into colonial Malaysian society in order to procure her a match. Until the wealthy Lim family offers her one: to their dead son, Lim Tian Ching. Li Lan is not at all interested in being a ghost bride but being a widow so young would mean her and her family would be provided for. Tian Ching also definitely wants her and lets her know it through her dreams.

This book started out with the vibe of growing into a romance you see in folk tales, then turned into another sort of folk tale all together. It's very magical but also very, very menacing. Li Lan is in a mess, a bigger one than she ever thought, and she learns more about herself and her family than she ever thought was there to discover I'm sure.

It's a fantastic and, dare I say it, magical read. It also needs a sequel right this instance. The ending is perfect but I would kill to see more.

forbesrachel Jun 27, 2015

Li Lan has little prospect of marriage or financial security because of her father's state of affairs, that is until she receives a most peculiar proposal. The wealthy Lim family wants her to marry their son Lim Tian Ching, the only catch is, he's dead. Choo takes this Chinese tradition and uses it as the basis for an fantastical story of a girl haunted by an unwanted suitor, the machinations of the spirit world, and ultimately, about giving careful consideration in matters of love and marriage. Li Lan sums up Lim Tian Ching's character from their first meeting; she refuses to marry this spoiled, intolerable, and frightening ghost who won't take no for an answer. Slowly his nightly visits to her dreams whittles her fortitude away, and even with help from her loyal Amah and a medium, any respite she gains is short-lived. Driven to the edge, she overdoses on a medication that was supposed to help, yet instead of dying, her spirit hangs on by a thread. The resulting out-of-body-experience affords her an opportunity to investigate the spirit world where a bargain has been made with corrupt officials. The Ghost Bride takes place in Malaya, 1893, a time and place where girls of means were confined and their actions restricted. When Li Lan finds herself detached from her earthly bounds, she is enticed by the freedom of her new form despite some of the terrifying things she faces. For the first time she has to depend primarily on herself so that she can uncover the past and the secrets that the dead hold. She still receives help from others, and gets saved plenty of times by the mysterious Er Lang, but gradually she makes more decisions for herself, and acts on them. All these factors, as well as Choo's bewitching worldbuilding, grips us firmly. The Ghost Bride is a well-rounded mixture of adventure, romance, folklore, and mystery that will leave you wanting more books like it.

l
Lasanthi1
Apr 26, 2015

loved this book. It shows how different cultures have different belief systems of what happens when a person dies. It was very interesting and I couldn't put this book down.

LPL_KateG Mar 27, 2015

Yangsze Choo immersed me in a spooky, dreamy, unfamiliar world, and I loved it. Readers who enjoy atmospheric historical fiction with a side of fantasy will find themselves sucked into this novel.

n
nidofito
Jan 22, 2015

An entertaining read that starts out with a bang and has a wonderfully satisfying ending.

e
Elusian
Dec 22, 2014

This was a lovely, eerie tale, well-written and poetic. It was both a Chinese ghost story and the story of a woman trying to escape -- or come to terms with -- the narrow confines of her sheltered life.

The book drew me in, and while I was reading it I felt like I was in a bewitched dream of terror and magic. It was culturally interesting and full of rich, strange imagery. I really enjoyed it.

c
caxiong
Oct 06, 2014

This book grabbed me from the very beginning! The idea of a girl becoming a "ghost bride" was very interesting and eerie to me. Coming from an Asian background all the elements used in this book kept me on my tip-toes! It will bring you into a new eerie world that will excite and intrigue you!

l
lizhelboe
Jul 27, 2014

The Ghost Bride is a compelling story that takes the reader into the the eerie world of the Chinese afterlife. Li Lan is the only daughter of a once prominent family that has fallen into hard times. Her father approaches her to ask if she would consider becoming a ghost bride where she would marry the already deceased son of a wealthy family which would then guarantee her financial future. It is a well written book, full of detail and folklore. It reminded me of Peony in Love by Lisa See. The middle of the story drags a little but picks up in the end and overall was a very enjoyable read.

s
ScoobyFan
Jul 18, 2014

The journey of Li Lan from the ghost bride proposal to her trip to the afterworld to her decision at the end was entertaining. The superstitions and the traditions of the culture were fascinating and I enjoyed the notes at the end giving a bit more explanation to the Malay-Chinese culture.

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rem85
Jan 21, 2014

rem85 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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