Yangsze ChooThe Ghost Bride

HarperCollins, 2013

by C. P. Lesley on October 18, 2013

Yangsze Choo

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Malaya, 1893. Pan Li Lan, a beautiful eighteen-year-old, has watched her Chinese merchant family decline since the death of her mother from smallpox during Li Lan’s early childhood. Her father lives in isolation and smokes too much opium: bad for business, as anyone can see from the decaying surroundings of their Malacca estate. One can even buy poems that explore this topic in greater detail.

Li Lan knows that her prospects of finding a husband are poor. Still, she does not expect her father to offer a dead man as bridegroom—even one whose family promises to keep her in luxury for the rest of her life. When Li Lan’s would-be husband begins to haunt her dreams—and she falls for his cousin in reality—her desperation to escape leads her on a journey through the Chinese afterlife, searching for the key that will free her from a marriage she dreads. But she slowly realizes that to succeed, she must uncover the secrets of her past … and her prospective groom’s.

The Ghost Bride (HarperCollins, 2013) opens a window on a fascinating and little-known world in which a spunky young woman tests the boundaries of her traditional middle-class existence in pursuit of a better future. Yangsze Choo brings Li Lan and her family to vivid life, then spins them off into a mirror society with rules eerily familiar yet utterly strange. It’s a journey well worth taking.

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