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The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
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The Ghost Bride

by Yangsze Choo

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1,0126812,651 (3.74)60
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Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
I don't think I was quite expecting what I found between the pages of The Ghost Bride. Perhaps it's because I glazed over the synopsis, rather than reading it carefully, but I wasn't ready for the more fantasy driven part of this book. I was expecting a story about a girl who was fated to be sold off as a ghost bride. A story rich with history. I was given both of these things, but also so much I didn't see coming. Li Lan's story is based around her Chinese culture, but with a paranormal twist stemming from mythology.

I'm not entirely sure when this book is meant to take place, but Li Lan reads as a more modern woman than I was anticipating. She's opinionated and intelligent. Her views on women and society are at odds with the others around her. I was charmed by her fresh, no-nonsense take on the world around her. What really threw me for a loop though is how young she really seems. I've seen this book labeled as adult fiction, but Li Lan's personality really feels like it has more of a young adult feel. Especially once the paranormal aspect comes into play.

However the biggest issue I had with The Ghost Bride was the writing style. Lots of telling, instead of showing. For example, describing an article of clothing. Rather than have the reader infer what it is through the writing, Li Lan will just directly explain what it is for, how it's worn and how she knows. If the protagonist I'm following is of the culture the book is based in, I somewhat assume they know about traditional clothing. I felt like I was being lead of a guided tour, instead of swept up in a mysterious story. That's not to say that the story itself isn't ultimately interesting. The folklore, mystery, and unexpected twists definitely created a need to keep reading. If you can see past the writing style, the story underneath is actually very well done.

My very jumbled feelings are why I ultimately decided on a three star rating for this book. There were aspects of The Ghost Bride that I really enjoyed, and others that took away from the journey. If you are a reader who often reads historical fiction, this might be something you enjoy. Especially since it has the added bonus of a bit of mythology to keep things fresh.
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  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
A cute story with magnificent imagery. Naive but still an immensely enjoyable read (sorry, listen). The only thing that I find really distracting in books of this type is how authors try to describe mundane details of everyday life of the time while maintaining first person narrative. A person telling her story would not describe ingredients of common dishes or common practices/traditions. She would assume the listeners know this. In my personal opinion, footnotes would do a much better job of filling the readers' knowledge gaps without interrupting the flow of narration. ( )
  Firewild | Jan 3, 2019 |
I took awhile to read this book, breaking off and reading other books in between chapters. The central character was engaging enough, the central concept fascinating. And when I passed the halfway point, I couldn't put it down.

What slowed me down as I started out, though, was the level of explanation of the real history and culture around the more fantastic elements. It probably didn't help that one of the books I read while trying to get into this one was Nnedi Okorafor's [b:Lagoon|18753656|Lagoon|Nnedi Okorafor|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1383619801s/18753656.jpg|26643213], which plunges the reader straight into Lagos culture and expects one to keep up because there's a story to get to. The Ghost Bride, in contrast, strives to leave no reader behind while introducing the Malaya of 1893. It's not the wrong choice for all readers, by any means - I'm honestly trying to figure out the best way to get this book to my mom, because she'll probably love it. But too much hand-holding throws me out of a story. Also, the singular footnote. One. Footnote. Why.

But overall? An intriguing story, lots of family drama - including figurative skeletons come to light - and interesting takes on Chinese and Malaysian mythology. A good summer read. ( )
  akaGingerK | Sep 30, 2018 |
I loved this book. It is set mostly, but not totally, in the afterlife or spirit world. I enjoyed the characters, both dead and alive and I was sorry to come to the end. ( )
  scot2 | Aug 11, 2018 |
Quite good!

Interesting story that pulls one into Chinese beliefs regarding spirits and the afterlife. It is compelling and leads one through many dark and unexpected places. ( )
  Omegawega | Mar 31, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
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This book is for James
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One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride.
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"Do you know I'm supposed to be interrogated by demons?"

""Yes, well, it's not my fault that you proved to be such an inept spy." "Inept!" I inadvertently raised my voice and the puppet servant outside my door stirred suddenly.
Though I couldn't see his face, Er Lang seemed extremely pleased."Very good," he said at length. "I must congratulate myself." "Yourself?" I spluttered. "Why, yes. For recruiting you as a spy. From the moment I saw you, tracking me so diligently through a mangrove swamp, I thought that this was a girl who could be counted on to dig around the underworld."
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.
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"One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride..." 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.… (more)

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