Author: Yangsze Choo
Genre: literary fiction
Length: 362 pages
Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: The Indianapolis Public Library
Plot Basics: In 1898 Malacca (Malaysia) Lan Li’s prospects for marriage are diminishing with her family fortune, going up in smoke through her father’s opium habit. When a wealthy family in town proposes that Lan Li become the ghost bride to their recently deceased son, Lim Tian Ching, Lan Li does not know if it is a joke or a frightening entrance to the shadowy world of spirits. She meets Lim Tian Ching’s still-very-alive (and now heir to the family) cousin Tian Bai and finds her heart stirred by the quirky man. But, the hauntings grow worse and Lan Li has to take a desperate journey into the spirit world to free herself and find out what her heart truly wants.
Banter Points: I have to thank the Chattanooga Library, actually, for recommending this book to me. Back in September 2013, I stumbled on them doing a #mynextread event on Twitter. You’d tell them the last three books you read, they’d recommend one for you. What I sent them was: “The Magnificent Ambersons,” Hank Phillippi Ryan’s “The Wrong Girl” and “Cuckoo’s Calling.”
They came back with “The Ghost Bride” and I am now astounded, looking back at that list, and seeing how well their recommendation aligned with those three books. (We’ll just skip over the fact that it took me 7 months to actually get this books to the top of my TBR list.)
It’s a mystery (like Wrong Girl and Cuckoo’s Calling) and has a lot of themes about wealth and class (like Cuckoo’s Calling and Ambersons). As a bonus, it’s a supernatural story which doesn’t link up to those three, but is always something I enjoy. I was fascinated by the world of the Malaysian Chinese and that society and their beliefs. The settings and the descriptions were as compelling as the plot.
Bummer Points: I can’t say much without spoilers, but there is one character who does not get enough screen time, so to speak, and I would happily read more books about that character.
Word Nerd Recommendation: “The Ghost Bride” is like ”Sense and Sensibility” meets “What Dreams May Come.” It’s a strong contender for 2014’s Top Ten and should be on your TBR pile.