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The Ghost Bride

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  17,086 ratings  ·  2,941 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 April 6th 2013)
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Hilari It is a classic coming-of-age tale, so it comfortably sits between both genres. The mixture of culture and adventure make it appealing to all ages.

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3.76  · 
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 ·  17,086 ratings  ·  2,941 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, first of her name, mother of 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
Apr 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
12.01: On offer Today for 1,99.

Enjoyed this a lot although I did not have many hopes. I bought the book because i found it as book deal on kindle.

I am really happy that I the book read since I learned a lot about old Malaya's culture and history. Also, it was fascinating how the author introduced the reader into the world of the Chinese-Malayan myths about the afterlife.

What I liked the most about this book is how beautifully the author describes the sights and culture of Malaya. I remember r
Elyse Walters
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Library ebook....

It seems two or three times a year I must read a tale that journeys me into the Asian afterlife...the Asian History...the culture....and the family at hand.

I enjoy other Asian books by authors Lisa See, Janie Chang, Alice Poon, Tan Twan Eng, and others.

This is my first novel by Yangsze Choo. She grew up in Malaysia...and is a 4th generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. She received her undergraduate degree at Harvard....and I’m thrilled to learn she is living here in the Bay
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.

Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-books
Beautifully written book with a beautiful cover. It captured my attention from page 1 and it was very hard to put down. There was a not a single page that I did not want to read.

The long and short of it is that Li Lan, the daughter of opium addicted and bankrupt man (her Mother passed away when she was a child). Her father receives an offer by a wealthy and powerful family. The Lim family want her to become a ghost bride for their recently deceased son,Lim Tian Ching. .

After a visit to the Lim
Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell
This is currently $1.99 right now! I just bought it because I received an ARC of her up-and-coming book, and want to read them both together. <3
May 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, read-in-2015
The first chapters of The Ghost Bride had me hooked. I have always enjoyed reading about Asian families, Asian history and culture. The audio is narrated quite beautifully by the author, and it was very calming to listen to her as the atmosphere and characters were formed.

Then the dream sequences began and an endless journey into an underground spirit world. I came off that hook I was attached to real fast, as new character after new character was introduced and the storyline went off into fant
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2014
Interesting and imaginative fantasy about Li Lan, a 17-year-old girl living in Malaya (Malaysia) in 1893. Her mother has died and she lives with her opium-addicted father, her nursemaid Amah and several servants. Her father is deep in debt and proposes offering Li Lan to the wealthy Lim family as a "ghost bride" to their recently deceased only son, Lim Tian Ching. Li Lan is horrified at the idea of being a bride to a dead groom and refuses. The next day, an invitation comes from the Lim family, ...more
Melody Chua
Aug 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Li Lian
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jody McGrath
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Li Lan is a young woman from a family that was once prestigious but is in decline in Malaya, 1893. Unbeknownst to her, she had been betrothed to the second heir of the very rich Lin Family, Tian Bai. But when the first heir dies, the family wants Tian Bai to marry for status and they ask Li Lan's father if she will marry their dead son and become his ghost bride. This is a seldom used custom where a living person is married to a dead person and assumes the role of their widow for the rest of the ...more
Diane S ☔
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: roadrallyteamb
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
Amy | Foxy Blogs
I happened up The Ghost Bride while at the library the other day. The gorgeous cover caught my eye. My daughter gave me a mini lesson about Chinese culture and what a ghost bride is.
Li Lan is a teen girl whose mother passed away a long time ago. Her father has been offered a deal where his money troubles would go away IF his daughter, Li Lan, would marry the Lim family’s deceased son. The Lim's are wealthy and they want their restless deceased son's passage to the afterlife to be a cal

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
Li Lan a woman on the edge of childhood and womanhood gained a proposal from a famously rich dead son. Crazy, right? Terrorized by his ghost leads her through a journey to solve a cloudy mystery.

Clearly, I really liked this book. It had everything that enticed me; folklore, spirits, beautiful scenery, mystery, and romance. I would agree with some reviewers that this story is not really about Li Lan. It wasn't about her romance or the mystery. She was only the medium. The book was about culture,
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
‘If we’re going to have a wedding, maybe we should have an exorcism first.’
‘Are you mad?’ she said. ‘That’s the last thing anybody wants to hear before a wedding!’

Finally, finally, I got to read Ghost Bride. It's been on my kindle for such a long time, I nearly forgot about it.

I had tried to get into the book previously but never found a way into the story. This time the Malaysian setting, the excursion into the Chinese spirit world and the unlikely murder mystery grabbed me almost from the sta
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
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
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 pr
Ashley Brooks
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: vaginal-fantasy
Ehhh. 2.5 for me?
The shining star of this book is less the story, and more the setting and folk lore that weaves through the whole thing. Both the mystery and the romance were pretty lacking and plot in general just did not capture my interest. I stuck with it though because I found the setting so intriguing.

If you don't mind a book with just an OK plot but a fantastic world, I'd recommend picking this up.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Giving a book four stars again is as precious as Kageyama's smile. *.______.*

“We Chinese did not like to give or receive certain gifts for superstitious reasons: knives, because they could sever a relationship; handkerchiefs, for they portended weeping; and clocks, as they were thought to measure out the days of your life.”

Might not seem an important quote, or a memorable one, but it honestly portrays pretty much perfectly why I loved this. The Ghost Bride does not shine for its characters or it
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"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!
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
Nov 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
What a disappointment. I wanted to love this book so badly, and I loved the first hundred pages or so. The author began with the tale of a young girl from a poor family, Li Lan, who is propositioned to be the bride of the spirit a recently deceased rich man. He begins to haunt her dreams, and she is drawn into his (creepy) family.
Sounds great, right? That was the first hundred pages. The next two hundred pages reads like a video game. (view spoiler)
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SBTB Goodreads Group: June 2019 Read-Along: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo 6 31 Jun 16, 2019 03:28PM  
Play Book Tag: The Ghost Bride by Yangstee Choo, 3.2 stars 3 17 Feb 16, 2018 07:13PM  
Vaginal Fantasy B...: MAIN: The Ghost Bride Discussion *SPOILERS* 71 393 Jul 24, 2017 03:57PM  
Central European ...: Ghost Bride 22 9 Jul 08, 2017 01:31PM  
The Yearning Yinzers: Ghost Bride 1 2 Jun 05, 2017 08:27AM  

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Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. Due to a childhood spent in various countries, she can eavesdrop (badly) in several languages. After graduating from Harvard, she worked as a management consultant 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 @yangsz ...more
“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.” 31 likes
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