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The Ghost Bride

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  29,333 ratings  ·  4,761 reviews
Yangsze Choo’s stunning debut, The Ghost Bride, is a startlingly original novel infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, and unexpected supernatural twists, reminiscent of Lisa See’s Peony in Love and Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter.

Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has los
Paperback, 354 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published April 6th 2013)
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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)
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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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 immi
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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Update: I FINALLY got around to watching the TV adaption on Netflix. If you're not watching it, what are you doing????? It's everything that is good about Asian dramas but with a supernatural twist and brilliant cinematography.

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 st
Apr 09, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
“The problem with the dead was that they all wanted someone to listen to them.”

The Ghost bride's strength lies in its vivid settings, served by a lush imagery. It shines with its palpable atmosphere, with the fascinating descriptions of Malaysian culture and traditions. I fell in love with the evocative and compelling qualities of  Yangsze Choo's writing. Moreover, as I've mentioned in my weekly check-in, her narration is fantastic and suits the book perfectly - listening to Li Lan's
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
Elyse  Walters
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
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
Oh, oh my. The ending left me breathless. I loved this so much.

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 pretty much the entire beginning, where Li Lan is thrust into the mystery of Tian Ching, what happened to him, and how she's going to get rid of his ghost. Unlike the tv show (not impressed, Netflix), Li Lan herself goes into a kind of coma and must
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Alice Poon
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.
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
"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
K.J. Charles
Exceedingly enjoyable fantasy novel set in the Chinese community of historical Malaya, where Li Lin's down-on-his-luck father proposes she become a ghost bride, ie marry a dead guy so he can have a wife in the afterlife. This spools out into a murder mystery, plus a fantasy rooted in Chinese myth and folklore and funereal beliefs, plus a romance that doesn't go where you initially think, but definitely goes to the right place. Our heroine is a bit wet at first but shines up her spine as the book ...more
Charlotte Kersten
“The problem with the dead was that they all wanted someone to listen to them.”

So What’s It About?

Li Lan is the daughter of a poor opium-addicted scholar in the British colony of Malaya. She has woefully limited prospects until a strange offer comes: the wealthy Lim family wants her to be a ghost bride for the family’s son who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Soon Li Lan starts to become haunted by the odious dead son, making nightly trips to the Chinese afterlife. When she becomes
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
While this started promisingly and evocatively, it quickly devolved into an overly drawn-out, languorous, tepid fable, and I progressively ceased to care about any of its characters or about what would happen to them. The first-person voice is incredibly devoid of spark or personality, and while aspects of the settings (both 19th-century Malaya and the spirit world) are interesting, I need far more than trappings to compel me to care about what’s occurring in those settings.

I had high hopes for
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
Richard Derus
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I really enjoyed this strange, off-kilter magical realist tale of the role of women in traditional cultures: Necessary, but might as well be dead for all the respect they're paid. Until they're necessary. Then, once the problem is solved, status quo ante. Unless you're Li Lan....

Big plus for the gloriously weird Chinese afterlife painted by Choo's ghost bride, Li Lan. Her, well, matter-of-factness in the face of goins-on that'd make me feel I was insane was pitch-perfect and the sheer gonzo "rig
may ➹
I took almost 2 weeks to read the first half of this and then 2 days for the last half…. clearly I am excellent at reading at a regular pace

short rtc
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ☔
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

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
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
Li Lian
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This was so much fun to read! A beautifully told magical story about a girl who accidentally loses herself in the afterlife being chased by a crazed ghost determined to marry her as she tries to prove his crimes.

4.5 ⭐

My Highlights:

- Top notch worldbuilding and setting! The way the author vividly describes Malacca and the Chinese afterlife, I could picture it all so clearly. Very atmospheric and lush writing style.
- I also appreciate the explanations of Chinese Malaysian rituals and customs
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
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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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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

Articles featuring this book

For as long as people have been telling stories, we’ve spun tales of the monsters and nightmares that lurk in the shadows of our imaginations....
203 likes · 61 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.”
“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.” 41 likes
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