Book Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

I recently finished reading The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. It is a really fascinating book that I highly enjoyed and would recommend.

The book’s description does not do the book justice. According to Amazon:

Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride” for their son, who has 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 what price?

Night after night, Li Lan is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where she must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family.

That is the basic plot of the book, but really only the first quarter of it. The majority of the book actually takes place in the Chinese underworld. This was something I have never seen in a Chinese novel before. Most references to China’s afterlife deal with how the dead interact in our world – ghosts. While the book does deal with this, Choo goes much further, actually taking readers into Hell, which is a fascinating place. Choo’s version of Hell is vividly depicted. If you want to read a book that does an excellent job of painting with words, I would highly recommend this one.

The story itself is also very good. I enjoyed the characters and the plot and read the book quickly. It delves into Malaysian and Chinese culture, history, and and folklore, all things I enjoy. There is a bit of mystery in it, as well as love and murder. The book would appeal to a wide range of readers. The book really is an impressive feat as a debut novel and is sadly Choo’s only novel to date. Hopefully she will have a long and productive writing career.

I also have to say the cover is gorgeous. Mumtaz Mustafa, the cover designer, needs a pat on the back because the cover is beautiful and very eye-catching.

What about you? Have you read The Ghost Bride? Let me know what you thought in the comments.