Friday, September 27, 2013


Title: The Ghost Bride
Author: Yangsze Choo
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Genres: Crime, Mystery, Historical fiction
Reviewed by: Margitte
Margitte’s rating: 5/5


Seventeen-year-old Li Lan lives in 1890s Malaya with her quietly-ruined father, who returns one evening with a proposition - the fabulously wealthy Lim family want Li Lan to marry their son. The only problem is, he's dead. After a fateful visit to the Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also her desire for the Lims' handsome new heir. At night she is drawn into the Chinese afterlife - a world of ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, monstrous bureaucracy and vengeful spirits. Enlisting the help of mysterious Er Lang (a dragon turned clerk) Li Lan must uncover the secrets of the ghost world - before she becomes trapped there forever.

Drawing on traditional Malayan folklore and superstition, THE GHOST BRIDE is a haunting, exotic and romantic read perfect for fans of EMPRESS ORCHID and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA.


The title of the book captured my attention immediately. I just had to read it.

Li Lan, the eighteen-year-old narrator stemmed from a Chinese family who settled in Malaya in the 1800s. Although there were various other influences in their lives from the multitude of cultures present at the time, including the British influences, her family, as most Chinese families, still maintained their own belief systems. Hence it resulted in her being subjected to one of the traditions of providing prosperity and catering to all the needs of the deceased in the afterlife.

When her formerly affluent father landed in dire straits, losing his inherited wealth, he asked her to become the ghost bride to the deceased son of the Lim family. Through the meddling of his mother, a grieving woman, Lim Tian Ching accessed Li Lan's dreams, haunting and harassing her to become his wife. When she refused, ghost started to fly. Literary!

Through different avenues and assistants, she managed to meet up with more deceased members of both her and her supposedly new family-in-law, resulting in one fast-paced exhilarating journey through different worlds with different tutors in the form of different characters that died and were waiting to be called to Judgement Day. They would ultimately teach her enough so that she can meet love on her own terms in the end. And what a surprise it was.


I haven't read a book like this before and did not want to be trapped in a spiritual world much longer than the first few chapters, as it made me uncomfortable, but the writing was so good, that I just could not stop reading after I started! In the process I learnt so much more about all the different Malay cultures - I even looked up how to roast water melon seeds the right way.

The book is a complete testament to Chinese food, languages, beliefs, and cultural practices. Informative, thrilling, and evocative.

Mmm, I did not believe in ghosts before, but now I wonder....


The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo has 325 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.



Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. Due to a childhood spent in various countries such as Germany and Japan, she can eavesdrop (badly) in several languages. After graduating from Harvard, she worked as a management consultant and at a startup before writing her first novel. Yangsze eats and reads too much, and often does both at the same time.

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