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The Ghost Bride

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  8,717 ratings  ·  1,725 reviews
"One evening, my father asked me if 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 propos
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by William Morrow (first published 2013)
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Community Reviews

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Before I start the book review, I’d like to bring you all to hell.

The Chinese Ten Courts of Hell, that is.

This particular hell is located at Haw Par Villa, Singapore. I first entered its dark depths in August 2006, and remember recoiling in horror when I saw a few bloody scenes you can view here.

So what are the Ten Courts of Hell? According to Chinese mythology, souls must enter these courts to be judged for the sins they committed in the land of the living. Each court deals with different sins
Khanh (Clowns, Nightmares, and Bunnies)
It seemed to me that in this confluence of cultures, we had acquired one another’s superstitions without necessarily any of their comforts.
The star of this book is not Li Lan. It is not her book; the focal point is not the very mild romance, it is not the mystery. The overwhelming show-stealer is the setting, the background, the history, the superstition and traditional beliefs of turn-of-the-century Malaya.

I am Asian myself and I maintain my love of Asian culture despite having immigrated t
Imagine having to marry a deceased bridegroom. Yes, you read that correctly. Although uncommon, this was the practice among some folk-lore practicing Chinese and is the ill-fate of Li Lan , a young woman in 19th century Malyasia in “The Ghost Bride” by Yangzse Choo.

Despite some beautiful imagery and scene settings, “The Ghost Bride” is painfully slow. Even though it has the calming zen-like presence common to most Asian historical fiction novels; the plot is halted, as well. Choo has the habit
I see dead people....

Li Lan, the motherless Chinese maiden, whose opium-addicted father has betrothed her to the deceased son of a wealthy family, accidentally finds herself roaming the Plains of the Dead - a terrifying afterworld where ghosts wait around to be judged, punished or reborn to new lives.
 photo fda52b23-625a-4740-8e34-6021b0c1879a_zps97b30f0b.jpg

Within the ghost world, she embarks on a supernatural adventure, filled with highly imaginative, colorful characters including horned demons, corrupt judges and shape-shifting otherwordly beings.

This was a beautifully written and touching novel. Fans of Peony in Love or Hayao Miyazaki's film Spirited Away will not be disappointed. The heroine of this story grows from a demure and spoiled girl into a confident and courageous woman. The world that Yangsze Choo creates is fantastic, more so because they reflect actual beliefs about the afterlife. This book has romance, terror, adventure and even some humor thrown in too. Ghost Bride earned every one of its stars
Dec 03, 2013 kari rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
In a word: disappointing.
This started out so positively, the first page had me hooked and then it went downhill, fell apart, became tedious and ended up a mess.
I think the main problem I have is that Li Lan is such a nothing character, sorry to say. She isn't interesting and has no personality. She has been educated in a fashion, that's the sum total of who she is. And she is like a child, easily distracted and believing of anything anyone anywhere tells her. Someone says this person( a good per
I am a Chinese Malaysian, born about a hundred years after the period this story takes place, and even I, jaded as I am about the state Malaysian is in now, find The Ghost Bride fascinating.

It's interesting to remember how people lived back then, before Malaysia was Malaysia, when it was still Malaya and under the British rule, how the various immigrants and cultures intersect.

What I enjoyed most is imagining how this story could've very well been my own family's story. Not the ghost bride par
Li Lian
Having grown up in Singapore, with a mother from Malaysia, I was thrilled to read a book set in Malacca, a town I visited many times in my childhood. Yangsze Choo has done a fantastic job of creating the mood and place of Malacca. She has clearly done her homework!

Her novel is a great read, full of adventure and twists and turns, I could barely put it down once I started into it. I loved the detailed descriptions of the clothing and food. It made me nostalgic for yummy Malaysian food!

I see a seq
Four and a half stars! Looking at the cover of this book, I expected some slow-moving historical fiction kind of like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Instead I got a book that could easily have been put into the genre section (scifi/fantasy) but has been marketed as "literary fiction" because that's where the acclaim and hopefully for this author, the money will be.

To be clear, saying that the book is like genre fiction is a compliment from me.

This plot of the book hinges on a practice I had n
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
When I was a little girl I found a set of books that had folk lore tales in them. They had China, Japan and several other countries stories-I inhaled them all. I love, love, love that kind of thing.
This book is like that. Go into it with an open mind. When I first heard of it I kept wondering how the heck do you marry a ghost? The author answered that very well.
It surprises you in the thinking that it's going to be a love story. It really isn't. Twists and turns at every junction. But enjoy the
I had high hopes for this novel. The cover is intriguing as is the book jacket's summary. The novel even has the makings of a grand complication that I can't spell out here without spoilers. Though I have to wonder how many non-supernatural readers picked this up only to find themselves knee deep in the afterlife?

I'm not finishing this book despite being up to chapter 7. The reasons are:
1) The main character reeks of "virginal sweet girl." You can almost peel her off the page with just how a "
"I usually only read nonfiction, but my wife insisted I immediately read the Ghost Bride. I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I was transported into a world that I knew about, but for the first time, felt that I experienced it. Now, every time I see reminders of the Chinese afterlife, I will always think "adventure" just as it was for Li Lan. I hope the author writes a sequel!

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
Melody Chua
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simply put, The Ghost Bride is fantastic. I went into this book fully expecting historical fiction with a murder mystery twist. What I got is a delightful paranormal story the likes of Spirited Away.

The book starts slow describing an impoverished Chinese family in Malaya. Li Lan's mother died when when she was little, and she basically grew up with her grieving dad who smokes so much opium that he managed to lose family fortune and any prospects for his daughter to make a prosperous marriage.

One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride.

There really is a severe lack of Southeast Asian representation in popular literature, not just YA. The Ghost Bride proves that. I was born and raised in Singapore, that tiny country neighbouring Malaysia (or Malaya as it used to be/is in this book - we were even part of them for, like, two years), so knowing Choo Yangsze broke out in the publishing world with a young adult novel set in 1890s Malaya was both extremely
When you have few prospects for a marriage, and your father is so addicted to opium that those prospects get fewer by the day, is becoming a ghost bride really the worst that could happen?

Li Lan is the only daughter in a Chinese family in Malaya. Her family, once reasonably respectable, has fallen far after her mother's death and her father's ensuing addiction to opium. So when a wealthy neighboring family suggests Li Lan as a ghost bride for the dead son, her father mentions it to her in passin
In Malaya in the 1890s, 19 year old Li Lan lives with her opium addicted, widowed father. Formerly a wealthy man, opium use has caused her father to trust the business to partners who took all his money, leaving them alone in a big house with only a cook, a maid, and Li Lan’s Amah- the nurse/nanny who brought up Li Lan and also her mother. While having three servants sounds fabulous to our modern mindset, in that time and place it was the bare minimum.

Li Lan is in danger of becoming an old maid
Diane S.
This is probably not a book I should have read, I think it is brilliantly written and it is certainly about a little explored subject. The tone is almost dreamy, which is expected because so much of the book takes place in dreams. Which leads me to my problem with the book, I love learning about new cultures, so Malaysia as the country was enticing. It was just too much fantasy for me, too much of the dreaming and the dead. Just not my cup of tea, but I know others have loved and will love this ...more
3 bintang

Buku terjemahan pertama yang dibaca untuk #ProjectBacaBukuCetak. Dipilih karena ada di bagian paling atas di timbunan, hohoho.

Suka sama cover terjemahannya dan terus terang walau sempat parno mau baca Ghost Bride karena elemen hantunya, nyatanya malah ga nakutin. Halah, merinding disko aja ngga :v. Adanya malah pengen nabokin si tokoh utamanya Li Lan. Ni cewe dah naif, sembrono pula. Entah kenapa sikapnya kadang sama kayak Bella Swan. Bahkan hubungan dia sama Er Lang kok agak2 mirip Bel
Kayla Beck
Review originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please.

Being as a tend to read a lot of young adult novels, it is easy for me to forget out delicious a well-written piece of literary fiction can be. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo is a beautiful novel that satiated my adult reading hungers. Journeying with Li Lan through the spirit world and watching her meet various spirits unfold the mysteries surrounding the Lim family and her own was mesmerizing.

Li Lan is very similar at first to many of the f
Abigail Wen
The Ghost Bride is a richly atmospheric and well-researched tale set in colonial Malaysia. I was completely caught up in the love story and read late into the night to find out what would happen to Li Lan.

Choo details a sinister and intriguing Chinese afterlife with many recognizable signposts in the real world. It’s a stunning debut that has stayed with me long after I finished.
Joan Adamak
Intriguing tale based on ancient Chinese myths

In the back of this book are Notes explaining some of the Chinese myths, which are the basis for much of this story, making it more understandable and a page turner.

Li Lan, an attractive young Chinese maiden, whose mother was deceased, her father was an heavy opium smoker who allowed the family finances to disintegrate. Her father was approached by a wealthy family whose son, Lim Tian Ching, had died and although he was now a ghost, the family wante
Georgia (The Bibliomaniac Book Blog)
“One day, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”

Li Lan lives with her father and Amah, in 1890′s Malaya. One day her father arrives home with the craziest, most unexpected marriage proposal. The rich Lim family would like Li Lan to marry their dead, teenage heir as a ghost bride-a rarely come by, ancient Chinese tradition- in order to preserve the Lim family name. After a strange visit to the Lim family mansion, Li Lan finds herself falling for her dead fiancee’s cousin, th
Arah-Leah Hay
If I'm going to get picky and critical with this, then it will suffer a lower rating. I wasn't expecting this book to be as much fantasy as it turned out to be or that most of the story would take place in the after life; this didn't actually bother me but turned out to be a pleasant surprise.It is a tale about the living wedding the dead. Interesting right?! The setting is the strong lead in this story and was just wonderful to surround myself with. Where this story fails is in its chapter set ...more
Laura Kump
I loved this book! I am a huge Amy Tan fan as her books always take me on a journey. I had heard this book being compared to Tan's so it got my attention. The author may not have Tan's style, but she surely has storytelling abilities. I was pulled in immediately and kept going until I finished. Took me two days. Great story and character. Loved it and highly recommend it.
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On Ageless Pages Reviews!

3.75 out of 5

The Ghost Bride is an evocative, eerie tale of one girl in 1890's Malaya (now known as Malaysia). Debut author Yangsze Choo writes with authority and with clear prose that lends well to picturing the important port town of Malacca. Part historical fiction, part supernatural tale of the Chinese afterlife, The Ghost Bride is a slow-moving but deftly written piece of fiction. Memorable and unique, Choo creates a vivid setting
Rebecca Huston
I found this one to be a pleasant surprise, telling the story of Li Lan, a girl who is urged to become a ghost bride to their deceased son by a wealthy family. She wants no part of it, but when she finds out that sorcery is involved and Li Lan travels to the underworld to free herself of the spell. There's quite a bit more, and how the author weaves it all together is what makes this one work for me. Overall, four stars and a recommend from me, despite the ending being a bit too abrupt.

For the
I am not one to dream about ghosts or have any morbid fear of them.Yet I took this book up upon the recommendation of a learned friend. What a fascinating find! There is a living ghost in all of us (he tells me) that yearns to travel through portals of time and culture seeking for eternal truth of our present human condition. You will find in "The Ghost Bride" a door to such curiosity. I will read the book again, this time as a gentle romance which it is meant to be.
Suelika Chial
I loved this book! The Chinese afterlife and Malaysian setting made it intriguing, but it was the story of Li Lan's quest in the afterlife and the ultimate choice she makes that had me riveted. The bittersweet and haunting ending left me wishing for more. I hope Yangsze is working on a sequel!
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Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. 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. You can follow her blog at or on Twitter @yangszechoo
More about Yangsze Choo...

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“In the darkness of a thousand
withered souls, it was Er Lang’s hand that I
sought, and his voice that I longed to hear. Perhaps
it is selfish of me, but an uncertain future
with him, in all its laughter and quarrels, is better
than being left behind.”
“The Chinese considered the moon to be yin, feminine and full of negative energy, as opposed to the sun that was yang and exemplified masculinity. I liked the moon, with its soft silver beams. It was at once elusive and filled with trickery, so that lost objects that had rolled into the crevices of a room were rarely found, and books read in its light seemed to contain all sorts of fanciful stories that were never there the next morning.” 18 likes
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