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.
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by William Morrow
audio version - 12 hours, 7 minutes
There are times when I have absolutely no desire to read a certain book. Even before The Ghost Bride was released there was such a big hype about it. I read the synopsis and immediately thought this book is not for me. Seriously, marry a dead guy? Nine months still great reviews and a nice rating.
What can I say? Via my library using overdrive I grabbed the audio version when it became available. Loaded up the iPod, grabbed Spencer's leash and away we went. Spencer was in his glory because his walks became longer and I think he got a few extra ones tucked in there too. I was hooked! The reader was the Yangsze Choo, the author, she did an amazing job.
The year is 1893 in British ruled Malaya (Malaysia), Li Lan is asked the most peculiar question - would she like to become a ghost bride? This sets off one of the most interesting and original stories that I have read in a long time. Lim Tian Ching is dead (proposed bridegroom) and he begins entering Li Lan's dreams. What happens to Li Lan next was so interesting and definitely a twist I didn't see coming. The journey for Li changes her from a rather spoiled 17 year old to someone who is courageous and has grown up, what a journey she had. I will stop now before I give too much of the story away.
There is so much going on in this book. Not just the mystery of Ching's death, but the history and superstitions of Malaya had me captivated, along with some adventure and a touch of humor.
This is Yangsze Choo's debut and I can't wait to see what she is working on next.