Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

One evening Li Lan's father comes to her with a strange question.  He asked if she would like to become a ghost bride.  A ghost bride was a living woman married to a man who had already died.  The family of Lim Tian Ching had inquired of her father if he and Li Lan would be amenable to this request.  The Lim family was quite wealthy and Li Lan would have no material worries if she agreed.

But, she had no desire for such an inhuman mating.  Indeed, she had fallen in love with Tian Ching's cousin, Tian Bai, and he had been promised to her earlier before Ching had died.  The family now wanted to cancel that engagement and marry her to the dead man they missed so much as a son. 

Soon, Ching began haunting Li Lan's dreams, showing her the palaces and feasts she would have as his wife.  Scared, she got medicine from a medium, but one night when she was more terrified than normal, took too large a dose and her spirit slipped out of her physical body.

Li Lan goes to the Plains of the Dead, to try to determine how to get back into her body and how to ward off her unwelcome suitor.  While there, she tiptoes between those who would help her such as her own deceased relatives, and those that wished to do her harm.  Will she manage to get back into her body before demons claim her?  Can she ward off Ching and find happiness with her first promised mate, Tian Bai?

This is the debut novel by Yangsze Choo, and she shows promise of an intriguing career.  The writing is dreamy, captured in the mists of Chinese beliefs and superstitions.  The reader is caught up in Li Lan's quest, and cheers for her to gain what she most wants in life, someone to love who can love her back.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction and those interested in literary fiction.

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