Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

"One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride..."

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, 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.


Li Lan is a hard character to talk about. Truth be told I'm not sure if I liked her or not. I didn't agree with her on a lot of things and didn't understand many of her emotions and decisions and yet I don't think she was a bad person. I just think me and Li Lan live in different times. The decisions she made about men and her feelings about the people around her seems ridiculous to me but probably made sense to her. She lives in a world where men marry many times and have many concubines; a world where the power of a woman is restricted to the household. It's a world where the rich grow richer and the poor poorer. I did enjoy reading about Li Lan. she is a complex character and an able protagonist.

Er Lang is a character I enjoyed reading about. I found him the most relatable of the whole lot of characters. He has a dark sense of humor and a snarky attitude that added life to the story. Another character I really liked was Amah. She is superstitious and caring and I loved the scenes with her.

All the characters in this book had a role to play. Even characters whom readers will probably think of as minor ones played huge roles in the story.

I expected the plot to be quite different. After reading the blurb I expected the plot to be cliched but I'm glad it was not. There are many twists throughout the story and some while predictable were still wonderful to read about. The tone of the story shifts as the story proceeds; it gets darker and darker and the plot was creepy, haunting and quite interesting. There were points where i felt it dragged but towards the end I was flying through the pages with excitement.

The writing is truly the best part about this book. This is not the kind of book I usually pick up. I'm all for non stop action and neck-break pace from page one to the end and while I did find this story to be slow at parts I wasn't at all bored by it because the writing is exquisite.

The descriptions are wonderful! The author paints a wonderful image of ancient Malaya which is now etched into my head. As I was reading I was transported to this haunting and complex world. The various cultures in Malaya are described and explained wonderfully. I personally loved all the food in the story!

The depiction of the Chinese afterlife is haunting too. The descriptions here too and wonderful and there was so much to learn about the culture. This book through the writing and setting has shown me rich culture of ancient Malaya and I loved it!

- The characters (for the most part)
- The setting
- The plot
- The writing
- The Diversity

- The draggy parts (It took me long to complete the book)

The Ghost Bride is a haunting and beautiful story written in an exquisite manner. It may be slow but the setting, the story and the descriptions more than make up for it. I would definitely pick up and other book the author writes.


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