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The Ghost Bride: A Novel (P.S.) by Yangsze…
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The Ghost Bride: A Novel (P.S.) (edition 2014)

by Yangsze Choo (Author)

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1,60810311,107 (3.75)104
Fiction. Literature. HTML:

A startlingly original voice makes her literary debut with this wondrous coming-of-age story infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, adventure, and fascinating, dreamlike twists

One evening, my father asked me whether 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, traditional ghost marriages are used to placate restless spirits. 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 Lims' 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 bureaucracyâ??including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family's darkest secretsâ??and the truth about her own familyâ??before she is trapped in this ghostly

world fore… (more)

Member:librarianarpita
Title:The Ghost Bride: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Yangsze Choo (Author)
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2014), Edition: Reprint, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:None

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The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

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# ReadAroundTheWorld #Malaysia

This is a historical fantasy and romance by Chinese Malaysian debut author Yangsze Choo. Choo spent her early childhood in Malaysia before her father, a diplomat, was posted for extended periods to Japan, Germany, Thailand and the Philippines. She then moved to the USA for university. This story is set in Malaya (Malaysia) during the British colonisation in the 1890s and is based on Chinese mythology.

17 year old Li Lan is the daughter of a respectable family living in a crumbling mansion with her opium-addicted father and her old Amah. Her father surprises her with a proposition from the wealthy Lim family to marry their late son, Tian Ching, and become his ghost bride, a rare tradition amongst the Chinese diaspora. When Li Lan goes to visit their house she finds herself attracted to Tian Bai, the living heir and cousin to her proposed fiance.
After this Li Lan is plunged into a world of superstition and the supernatural, with Tian Ching haunting her dreams. She then becomes separated from her body and finds herself in the spirit world trying to avoid hungry ghosts, malevolent spirits, family plots and machinations. She meets the rather spoiled Fan, waiting for her lover to join her in the realms of the dead. The pair go to Malacca in the Plains of the Dead. Li Lan meets the mysterious Er Lan who helps her in her quest. Li Lan is caught between two worlds and uncertain if she can return to the world of the living. She is also caught between two men, the Lim cousins, both of whom she has been promised to at different times, and an attraction to a third.

The story is richly told, with the traditional clothing and food of both Malay and Chinese heritage described. Choo makes the comment about Malaysia that, “It seemed to me that in this confluence of cultures, we had acquired one another’s superstitions without necessarily any of their comforts.” I found this to be a book that sets a historical and cultural scene. The storyline in the spirit world became a little convoluted and complex. I did not feel I really connected with any of the characters, but this was nevertheless an entertaining read. 3.5 stars for me. ( )
  mimbza | Apr 14, 2024 |
Thought it was going to be a mystery/romance, but is really more of a fantasy/ghost story. Enjoyed the elements of Chinese folklore and religion that were included and story was adequate ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
When I was younger I read a book that was set in far ago Ireland. I don't remember the title exactly, but what I remember best is that the author had immersed me in the culture of ancient Ireland so much that when I finally finished the book I had completely forgotten the story itself. All that remained was the land and its people and its culture. THE GHOST BRIDE is very much like this. I went into the story very intrigued by the notion of a "Ghost Bride". I am interested in Asian culture in general, but the "Ghost Bride" aspect is not one that I've encountered that often before (it was part of a TV series I watched a long time ago called "Restless", which I believe was actually a Thai show).

Choo's writing is beautiful, there are no other words for it. The strength of her words are evident in the depiction of Li Lan's genteel poverty versus how her potential "husband"s family, the Lim Family, live and later in the quasi-afterlife that Li Lan fights for her freedom in.

This is a book steeped in traditions, values, hopes and dreams that I was fascinated by. Li Lan's father, an opium addict who cares a great deal for his daughter, but more for his addictive lifestyle, makes it clear from the beginning that its Li Lan's choice. Even though it would be better, for them both, financially if she accepted the Lim's offer, he wanted her to understand what it would mean. What she was giving up (love, children, a living breathing husband) vs. what she would gain (roof over her head, fine clothes, a place in society).

Li Lan, having been sheltered and had very little contact with anyone who wasn't her father or her Amah (nursemaid), accepts an offer from the Lim Family to visit their estate. Curious she goes, but very quickly she figure outs what being the Lims' dead son Tian Ching "Ghost Bride" would mean. Her ghostly spouse's personality is abusive, juvenile and sadistic. Increasingly so as she refuses to play his games. Not aiding the issue is Tian Bai, Tian Ching's cousin. A harmless guy, Li Lan falls for him (I would to if my other choice was Tian Ching) and angsts, endlessly, about how it can never be.

I'll be honest I could have done without THAT particular side plot. It makes sense for her to have developed a crush on him, and even to a certain extent that she is so dramatic about it (sheltered being 17 hopeless situation sadistic ghostly haunting = drama is okay). I just rather wish when things really started going badly for her, she could have been a bit more proactive. It sounds strange to say, considering the limited amount of freedom women had in the world in general during that time period, but Li Lan was a more proactive individual. Not like "Feminism, Equality of Genders, Women's Rights" proactive, but she used what resources were available to her to find answers.

In the quasi-afterlife world that Li Lan increasingly found herself in (through the machinations of Tian Ching and her own explorations) Choo focuses a lot of her writing talent in making the the world immersive and "real" to the reader. Rather then feel like a tourist in some foreign country, I felt as if I was exploring and living as Li Lan did. The atmosphere and the tone of Choo's writing invited me to come be part of the Chinese version of heaven of and hell (which strictly from a non-religious standpoint, sounds so cool).

Some plot points are more predictable then others (the "mysterious stranger" for instance), and the story moves at its own pace, which might be too slow of a burn for most people. There isn't any "action" persay, moments of excitement and suspense and exhilieration, moments that will keep your heart pumping for sure. The various ways the book could have ended for Li Lan are numerous, made moreso by the many many plot lines that tie into one and other.

If you're looking for something that is outside the norm for historical fiction, with elements of fantasy and boatloads of culture, I highly recommend this novel. ( )
1 vote lexilewords | Dec 28, 2023 |
I had this sitting in my TBR pile for so long and had nearly forgotten about it until I saw it on Netflix. I had also just finished beta reading for an author friend on her story set in Southeast Asia, and I was feeling nostalgic for Singapore, where I grew up.

I really enjoyed this. I loved the setting of historical Malaysia and seeing words and phrases that I recognized from my youth. I liked how our protagonist, Li Lan was written as an actual teenager and the love story was typical to one you’d find in a YA romance book. I adored all the lore behind Chinese death rituals and creatures and our idea of the afterlife. The writing flowed and was easy to read.

I did think the story dragged quite a bit in the middle and found myself losing interest at some points, though it did pick up again around the 65% mark. I also felt that the subplot with Lim Tian Ching could have been fleshed out more, considering I thought he was going to be a major part of the story. But he just seemed to disappear a little more than halfway in, only to be given a quick mention later. I also thought there were going to be more mention of the levels of Hell, but Li Lan was mostly in limbo, awaiting her judgment for her time in the afterlife.

Overall, an interesting read for anyone who’s interested in a YA romance in a really unique setting, and who enjoy reading about Chinese culture! ( )
  galian84 | Dec 1, 2023 |
It's been a long time since I was swept away into a fantasy world quite so thoroughly. Choo's writing is sensational! Elegant and lyrical, it has an old world charm that perfectly matched the setting of this novel and the otherworldly themes.

I liked Li Lan quite a bit, and I eagerly followed along on her adventures. Though I wish she'd had a bigger role to play in solving her problems rather than being rescued by others -- men, ox headed demons, otherworldly creatures, and the like. But that's a minor squabble, and it certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of the novel.

I was also thoroughly taken with the unexpected romance. Without giving too much away and spoiling the story, I will say that there's a lovely and extraordinary relationship that develops as Li Lan goes on her journey; a love that is at once beautiful and completely believable.

The characters in this novel are extremely well developed - from Li Lan herself to Tian Bai, Amah, and Er Lang, all the way to the old cook and the servant in the Lim ghost mansion.

Overall, this is an engaging, irresistible, beguiling story that held me firmly in its spell as I eagerly turned the pages. ( )
  Elizabeth_Cooper | Oct 27, 2023 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
This book is for James
First words
One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride.
Quotations
"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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Fiction. Literature. HTML:

A startlingly original voice makes her literary debut with this wondrous coming-of-age story infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, adventure, and fascinating, dreamlike twists

One evening, my father asked me whether 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, traditional ghost marriages are used to placate restless spirits. 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 Lims' 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 bureaucracyâ??including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family's darkest secretsâ??and the truth about her own familyâ??before she is trapped in this ghostly

world fore

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