When Li Lan receives a proposal to be a ghost bride, she pays no heed. But her acquaintance with the Lim family introduces her to Tian Bai, the cousin of the deceased Lim heir.
Caught between her attraction toward Tian Bai and being haunted by Tian Ching, she is inadvertently thrust into the afterworld and must tread a long journey before her time on Earth is up.
I was so mesmerized reading this book that I can’t seem to move on from it. A part of my mind keeps lingering on various scenes.
The Ghost Bride is an Asian fantasy-historical fiction that is brimming with cultural significance. Set in Malaya during the 19th century, the story incorporates Chinese folktales, customs, and superstitions in an engaging manner.
You also get to learn a lot about the history of the land and how its people have been influenced by the various colonial powers. In my opinion, none of this comes across as textbook-ish. The author divulges the right amount of information to enhance your understanding.
While it has a slow-medium pace, there’s a lot about the context and the characters that consistently keep you engaged.
The story has been written from Li Lan’s perspective and that made for a fun reading experience. She is adamant in her ways (even when you wish she would make safe decisions) and sometimes doesn’t consider the consequence of her choices.
There are so many scenes where she is just wandering around in the afterworld, and you want to shake some sense into her and get her to go back to her body.
Her Amah is a spirited presence throughout the book. Any Asian would recognise her as the mother/ grandmother figure they themselves have known in their life. The way she takes care of Li Lan made me glad that our protagonist has someone in her corner.
The way Tian Bai’s storyline wraps up left me with some questions. Was that plot point merely for adding tension? Is there more to his character that’s left to our interpretation?
Two of my favourite characters are Er Lang and Amah.
For some reason, even though there are quite a few layers (twists and developments) in the afterworld part, I felt that this section stretched on and on. If it had been a bit more shorter or substantial, I would’ve appreciated the book more.
Yangsze Choo’s writing is elegant and well-suited for the genre. There’s not a single scene that I couldn’t visualise and so much of it is ingrained in my mind thanks to the author’s prowess.
I’d love for there to be at least another book or two in this series (or the world!) because Li Lan is just the type of character to find herself in tricky situations. And the way this novel ends leaves a lot of room for adventure and mishaps in her life.
On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Ghost Bride and would recommend it if you like fantasy-historical fiction.