Rating: «««« ½
It is 1893 Malaysia (or as it was known then, Malaya) where you are about to enter a mystical world of ghosts and spirits. The Ghost Bride is a novel of suspense, mystery, betrayal and love. Despite the fact that the setting is a very real place, Yangsze Choo was able to create a very vivid and haunting world of her own based on ancient Chinese/Malaysian mythology. I absolutely LOVED the setting of this novel. It was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful – the background, the history, the superstition and the traditional beliefs of turn-of-the-century Malaysia was wonderful.
The story is centered around gorgeous 17-year old Li Lan, a young woman from an old, respected family of Chinese decent in Malaya, who is hidden away with her mentally-absent, opium-addicted father and her Amah, when at her age and her position, she should be out socializing to secure a place for her future. As her father falls deeper and deeper into his opium addiction, he begins to run out of money, soon the family will have nothing. An old business associate of her father soon presents him with a proposal – a marriage proposal for Li Lan to his son Lim Tian Chiang. There is a catch however, Lim Tian Chiang is dead. The proposal is of a rare form – he wants Li Lan to become a ghost bride and marry the spirit of his deceased son.
Some of the best parts of the book were Li Lan’s dreams where she is pulled into the spirit world. They are realistic and stunningly portrayed – they feel like dreams one could have and nightmares that would scare most anyone. Due to these nightmares, Li Lan makes a desperate decision and as result she becomes a shadow, a living ghost. Forced into the parallel ghostly underworld, she must solve a number of mysteries before it is too late and she will be trapped there forever.
Loved the story. Loved the setting. Loved the characters. My one criticism of the story was that it sometimes dragged on . . . and on . . . and on . . . Still, I would highly recommend it for sure.