Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo- 368 pages
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.
My Review: 4 stars
Two thumbs up for creativity. What a refreshing burst of history mixed with folklore then sprinkled with romance and mystery. I found myself consumed in this magical ghost world of Li Lan and her crazy cast of characters that surrounded her. Li Lan quietly reminded me of Belle from Beauty and The Beast in that she was raised by her dad, consumed herself in books, very rarely left home and of course, in her choice of mates. This first time author has a great gift for description so that you can truly immerse yourself in the 1890’s of Malaya and taste their food, see their garments and easily imagine their streets. Over all, a well done debut novel.
Quotes I liked:
- “I liked the moon, with its soft silver beams. It was at once elusive and filled with trickery, so that lost objects that had rolled into the crevices of a room were rarely found, and the books read in its light seemed to contain all sorts of fanciful stories that were never there the next morning.”
- “Amah always said too much thinking made me pale and peaky. Of course, she was perfectly capable in the next breath of scolding me for going into the sun and ruining my complexion. She never seemed bothered by her ability to embrace two opposing things at once.”
- “To see spirits is a taint, not a talent.”
Tags: 2013, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, China, Romance, Asian, Magical Realism
Labels: 2013, Asian, China, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Paranormal, Romance