Review: The Ghost Bride / by Madeleine

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Yangsze Choo's The Ghost Bride is a captivating story, set in colonial Malaya, where new British traditions clash with old Chinese customs and where Li Lan's family is experiencing a steady decline into poverty. Unfortunately for Li Lan, her family's bankruptcy and father's addiction to Opium have left her little opportunities to socialize; she approaching marriageable age without any prospects, until she receives an unusual proposition from the town's wealthiest family. The prestigious Lim family's heir, a pompous and unpleasant boy, died of a fever before his time. In accordance with old superstitions, the Lim matriarch wishes for a bride to placate her son's restless spirit. Li Lan is taken by their opulent lifestyle, and must weigh the comfort that wealth brings with the consequences of marriage to a spirit if she were to accept the proposal. Soon she finds her dreams haunted by her spirit suitor, and at the same time feels drawn to his very real cousin, the newly crowned heir. It comes to light that her suitor's death may not have been due to illness, and as Li Lan investigates she comes to find out secrets about the Lim family- as well as her own- that hold consequences for all involved.

This book was an unusual pick for me, as I normally gravitate towards historical fiction that falls into the subcategories of Victorian mysteries or WWII adventures, but it just goes to show that you shouldn't always stick with the same type of book because this book was amazing. It has a twist that elevates it to a whole different setting, and it was one of those books where the descriptions made everything come to life so vividly in my head that I had no trouble getting lost in it. I especially loved learning about the old Chinese traditions and the ways in which British influence were creeping into the stubborn Chinese culture in Malaya. I want to say more, but the twist is too good and I wouldn't forgive myself if I spoiled that moment of surprise for another reader. This is Choo's debut, and I'll definitely be looking out for more of her work and similar work in future trips to the library. 

Bottom Line Rating: 5/5

  • Title: The Ghost Bride
  • Author: Yangsze Choo
  • Publisher: William Morrow, 2013
  • Price: $12 on Amazon
  • ISBN: 9780062227324
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Source: Library