December 20th, 2013

Gwen 1

Book Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Yangsze Choo’s The Ghost Bride is a fantasy novel set partly in the Chinese community of 1890s Malaysia, and partly in the Chinese otherworld of ghosts and demons. While it covers much of the same material as Lisa See’s Peony in Love, the fast pace and more likeable protagonist make it a better read.

Pan Li Lan, our heroine, receives an unusual and insulting proposal, to wed Tian Ching, the dead son of the wealthy Lim family, in a ghost marriage. Li Lan fiercely opposes this match, but is nonetheless drawn to the Lim family when she falls for its living heir, Tian Bai, and finds herself being aggressively haunted by his cousin Tian Ching.

Li Lan must discover the truths behind Tian Ching’s death and that of her own mother, and thwart a vast cosmic conspiracy, in order to follow her own desires and marry for love.

One of the great strengths of The Ghost Bride is its setting in Malacca, a diverse trade hub in the British colony of Malaya. Malacca’s Chinese community, which exists in an uneasy thrall to both mainland China and the British, blends its own traditions with Malay customs, and the US-based Choo’s love for this ancestral land shines through.

Collapse )