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The Ghost Bride

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  21,075 ratings  ·  3,615 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
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Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by William Morrow (first published April 6th 2013)
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Popular Answered Questions
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.
Stephanie I loved the book and the characters so much and the Netflix series has changed so many details of the characters and the plot it seems like an entirel…moreI loved the book and the characters so much and the Netflix series has changed so many details of the characters and the plot it seems like an entirely different creation. If you watch it on its own merits it is worth seeing, though, it seems like it is set more in the 1990s than the 1890s, with some of the dialogue and the added sitcom humor. (less)

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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  21,075 ratings  ·  3,615 reviews


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Christine
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
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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 immi
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Orsolya
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
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Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell

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I'm very picky about fantasy novels. All of my favorites have some unusual hook or quality that make them stand out from the rest. I knew as soon as I started THE GHOST BRIDE that it was going to be one of these stories. Set in late 19th century Malaysia, it is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl named Li Lian, who lives with her opium-addled father and her caring nurse. She's about the age to be married, but the man she should marry
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Adina
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
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kari
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
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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
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Debra
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
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Nicole~
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.

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Hazellie
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
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Margot
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
Alice Poon
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
An enthralling story about the afterlife in Chinese myths, with unexpected twists and turns, though in some places it dragged a little and in others the sensibilities a tad too modern. The writing was vivid and evocative.

I'm giving this novel 4.3 stars.
Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
Oh, oh my. The ending left me breathless. I loved this so much.

However, I did struggle with the middle portion of this book, but it didn't take away my love for the characters or the story. I think I missed some key information, and I felt like I was wandering around in the dark more so than Li Lan herself.

Okay, so I'm going to keep this short and without a personal recap or summary. Let me tell you what I loved: the writing (lovely), the mystery + mythology, ER LANG AND ALL HIS SCENES, and pret
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Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
4.5★
"The problem with the dead was that they all wanted someone to listen to them."

Now, I wouldn't have thought this was my sort of read at all, but it shows how wrong you can be.



More than what I was expecting as I knew there would be the fantastic and paranormal,this was also a (somewhat tepid) romance and a murder mystery. Ms Choo's use of evocative language is assured - quite amazing that this book was a debut. Ms Choo allows us to pick delicately through Li Lan's
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☮Karen
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
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Dianne
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
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
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
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Kate
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5/5stars

This was AWESOME. someone described this to me as "Three Souls meets Spirited Away" and I can't agree more. This book is an incredibly entertaining, incredibly endearing, incredibly fast-paced and interesting book about a girl who is proposed to become a ghost bride - aka; the bride of a person who has died. When she rejects the marriage, the ghost of the boy whose family proposed to her begins to haunt her and she has to go into the spirit world to find out hidden secrets and learn more
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Gabi
3.5 Stars

I finished the book some days ago and since then was pondering If I should round up or down.

There is a lot I loved in this narration. The Chinese and Malaysian myths and culture were wonderful to read. I especially loved the idea of the settings of the afterlife dependend on the burned offerings.
The explanations thereof in the afterword were very much appreciated.

The characterisation of Li Lan, the mc, was convincingly done. It was nice to see a character depicted true to her backgrou
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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.
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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
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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
Margitte

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
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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
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BrokenTune
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 st
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Jacqie
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
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Kara-karina
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD*
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
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Maryam
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, audiobook
Enjoyed this book very much. I picked as part of my Read Harder Challange and I'm happy that I came across it. Very interesting book about the culture and traditions of old Malaysia which was affected by China.
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
I feel like I've read a lot of ownvoices books in the last few months, but this book, with its setting, characters, and cultural context, felt like it was just for me.
And that's what makes this book special to me.

- More than just historical fiction: also incorporates elements of fantasy, paranormal, romance, and mystery.
- Amazing, amazing setting and worldbuilding: set in dreamy Malacca but the story also takes you to more otherworldly planes.
- Very accessible to anyone and everyone, especiall
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Ashley DiNorcia
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-fiction
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.
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2,123 followers
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 http://yschoo.com/ or on Twitter @yangsz ...more

Articles featuring this book

Asked to marry the dead son of a wealthy family, a young woman is pulled from her body into the afterlife in The Ghost Bride, a historical novel se...
85 likes · 26 comments
“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.”
53 likes
“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.” 34 likes
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