The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
“The problem with the dead was that they all wanted someone to listen to them. Each ghost I had encountered had a story that it was only too ready to share. Maybe it got lonely in the afterlife. Or perhaps those who lingered longest were the ones who could not bear to give up.”
Li Lan is the daughter of a heartbroken and bankrupt man who spends his days grieving his long dead wife in an opium induced haze. The only thing that keeps the man going is Li Lan and his desire to secure a future for her where she will be well taken care of.
The Lim family is extremely wealthy and was once a business associate to the grieving man. They approach him with an unusual proposal: they want Li Lan to become the ghost bride for their recently deceased son.
Li Lan is fiercely against this idea because while it may secure her a home for the remainder of her life, she will miss out on the pleasures of love and family.
After a visit to the Lim mansion, Li Lan finds her dreams haunted by the ghost of their son, Lim Tian Ching, who has gained power and favor in the afterlife. Li Lan wants nothing to do with him until he tells her a shocking piece of information: he was murdered by none other than his cousin, the new heir to the Lim fortune, Tian Bai. What he doesn’t know is that Li Lan has recently fallen in love with Tian Bai.
In the small town of Malacca, the afterlife is closer than it appears thanks to the superstitions of its residents. Li Lan must find a way to stop the marriage and learn the truth behind Lim Tian Ching’s death.
Crossing the Plains of the Dead, Li Lan encounters hungry ghosts, vengeful spirits connected to her own family, and a corrupt bureaucracy managing the fate of dead souls.
Accompanied by the striking spirit guardian named Er Lang, Li Lan gathers information on Lim Tian Ching and his shady dealings between the living and the dead while learning some devastating family secrets of her own.
Time moves at a much different pace in the Plains of the Dead and it is running out; Li Lan’s spirit cannot remain away from her body much longer or she will be trapped in the Lim’s spirit world mansion as a bride to a corrupt spirit surrounded by secrets and lies.
The Ghost Bride has been on my TBR since 2013 according to Goodreads! I remember reading glowing reviews and was interested in the unusual concept of a person marrying a spirit but those with a neverending reading list know how some books just fall further down the list or get lost in the shuffle. I happened to find a copy at my local Dollar Tree recently and instantly remembered the title and beautiful cover.
I’m so glad this book found me finally! The Ghost Bride is beautifully written with rich details of the history of Malayan (Malaysia was formerly known as Malaya) culture, from its language to its superstitions about ghosts and the afterlife. Taking some of the most interesting superstitions, Choo wrote a compulsively readable novel and added some exciting plot twists for readers that enjoy both historical fiction and paranormal fantasy.