The Ghost Bride By Yangsze Choo
5 out of 5 Stars
I started this book expecting it to be one thing, then it spun around on me and went in a completely unexpected direction, and I definitely enjoyed the ride!
Li Lan, an impoverished but genteel Chinese girl living in Malaya, receives an offer of marriage–to a dead man. The man’s wealthy family,are seeking a bride to help his soul rest in peace, an arrangement the dire financial straits of Li Lan’s family makes hard to resist. But resist she does, and Li Lan soon finds herself haunted by the dead man, the barrier between the living and the dead becoming thinner and thinner around her.
This is the start of the book: a well researched historical fiction, with a supernatural twist that somehow feels natural to the plot. However, within a a few chapters, catastrophe strikes for Li Lan, and even this unusual pairing can no longer contain the story. I suddenly found myself immersed in a murder mystery/ghost story that jumps between planes of existence and across the barrier of life and death. This description might make you think the book is chaotic, but the author beautifully weaves everything together into an interesting and original shape.
The characters in this book stand out for being superbly written. Their flaws, hopes, and dreams seem real and believable. I greatly enjoyed the repartee between the heroine, Li Lan, and her occasionally unwilling companion, Er Lang. My difficulty in this review is that I am loathe to tell too much of the plot, as one of the highlights of this book was the joy and surprise of following the story as it unfolds.
In all, a well-written and enjoyable book. If you don’t mind a bit of a ghost story with your historical fiction, or a bit of a monster movie in your mystery, this is a great book for you. The author brings colonial Malaya to life (and afterlife) in this book with vivid, accurate detail. Her use of Chinese and Malayan beliefs and superstition is glorious and well used in the plot. I would love to see a sequel on the horizon!