Monday, July 17, 2017

The Ghost Bride

I've been wanting to read The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo ever since I came across it at work. It sounded like a very different but interesting read.  I ended up buying it for myself around my birthday.  I intended to get to it a bit sooner than I did (for some reason I got distracted by Charles de Lint's The Wild Wood), but I still managed to read it within a month of getting it.  I'm pretty proud of myself - with the amount of books I have piled up waiting to be read, that's super good timing!

The Ghost Bride is the story of Li Lan, the daughter of a merchant who has withdrawn from the world (and let his business and contacts slide as a result).  Because of this, Li Lan has no real prospects.  But another powerful family, the Lim family, contacts her father and requests that Li Lan become a ghost bride to their recently deceased son.  Their son, Lim Tian Ching, begins courting her in her dreams.  In an effort to rid herself of his attentions, she accidentally overdoses on a potion a medium gave her.  Sending her body into a coma, her spirit is released into the afterlife.  There she gets drawn up with the supernatural Er Lang, who is trying to figure out what is going on with the Lim family in the afterlife (because they clearly have some clout with the border guards).

I loved Choo's writing style.  It really set the stage for 19th century Malaya.  And I really liked the world of the Malayan afterlife.  My major complaint was that parts of the story were very predictable (such as who Li Lan's mother actually was in the afterlife, or what Li Lan would ultimately choose for her own life).  I know that some people (here are two examples) complained that Li Lan wasn't a very engaging character, but I didn't really have much of a problem with her.  While she sort of failed to save herself all the time, she was at least trying.  And since she was a young woman who was not at all worldly (and was largely left in her house, or only went outside when accompanied by her Amah), I thought the way she was seemed entirely fitting.

Overall, I enjoyed The Ghost Bride, and would be interesting in reading Choo's second book, whenever it comes out. :)

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