The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo


My Thoughts: 

I found this delightful little gem in my local bookstore, sadly I couldn’t stay in said bookstore all day and neither did I buy as many books as I would have liked to however, The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo caught my eye and I’m so glad that it did! It didn’t take long for me to be completely absorbed by this story, I ABSOLUTELY ADORE Hayao Miyazaki’s work and as soon as I picked up on the Spirited Away-esque vibe seeping from the pages of this novel, I was hooked! I would literally beg Hayao Miyazaki to make The Ghost Bride into one of his spectacular animations, Myself and I could name a few others, would definitely buy and watch it.

It should come as no surprise, the mysterious Er Lang was my favourite character, closely followed by the main character, Li Lan. I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail here as there are literally thousands of reviews which cover everything, but for a little taster; Er Lang is a sassy, hilarious, and a slightly arrogant character, Li-Lan is a strong female protagonist with a big heart. I’m only sad that there wasn’t more of Er Lang in this story as he really stole the show for me when he did appear, so I’m hoping there is going to be a sequel with more Er Lang!

I have to agree with all the good reviews, the writing is beautiful, and I mean BEAUTIFUL, like the same awe-inspiring feeling you get when you look at a fantastic work of art. The historical elements along with the customs and beliefs were both educating and wonderful, maybe I have a slightly morbid fascination with death but I loved the spirit realm. The storyline was easy to follow and made sense to me, and the characters were all three dimensional, even the minor characters have been obviously thought out with care and attention to detail. I found that my emotions and thoughts were all in tune with the storyline and the characters, I loved Li-Lan, mistrusted and then loved Er Lang, hated with a passion the sniveling Lim Tian Ching, and definitely had a bad feeling about Tian Bai. It was as though the author managed to pull me onto her wavelength with this story and I loved every second of it.

The ending of The Ghost Bride particularly touched a nerve with me and after I had finished reading The Ghost Bride, I was left feeling warm and contented, not an easy thing to pull off for any author, so I request that you all shower Yangsze Choo with many literary appraisals. Definitely another author to keep an eye on, and another novel that I will be adding to my bookshelf.

From The Current Reviews:

The Good: Choo’s evocative descriptions still pulled me in and sent shivers down my back‘, ‘Yangsze Choo has created hauntingly fantastic worlds of the living and dead‘, ‘A spellbinding tale that is, at once, mysterious, suspenseful, romantic and otherworldly intriguing‘, ‘a beautifully written and touching novel, fans of Peony in Love or Hayao Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away will not be disappointed‘, ‘romance, terror, adventure and even some humor thrown in too‘, ‘a great read, full of adventure and twists and turns, I could barely put it down once I started into it‘, ‘The book is a complete testament to Chinese food, languages, beliefs, and cultural practices. Informative, thrilling, and evocative‘, ‘Strong heroine, captivating story and wonderful glimpses of Chinese traditions and customs towards the dead’, ‘the story flows compellingly, and the setting is vividly portrayed’, ‘a delightful spectacle for my imagination’, ‘Great story and character‘, ‘richly atmospheric and well-researched tale set in colonial Malaysia‘, ‘the characters were three dimensional and understandable; and the plot was totally unpredictable‘,  ‘An incredibly imaginative and well-written story about wonderfully unique characters‘, ‘This is a ghost story…unlike any you may have read before!‘, ‘I loved this story – it’s rich imagery, the cultural detail, the heroine (imperfect but with such a good heart), the amazing supporting characters and a setting that was magical‘, ‘With a lyrical writing style, Ms. Choo has created the best kind of young heroine (gutsy and impulsive with a lot of heart)‘, ‘Jet lag be damned, I finished this on a long flight and it was worth every moment of lost sleep‘, ‘interesting concept’, ‘both vividly visual and deeply thought provoking’, ‘Well-written and suspenseful, this book is an anthropological treasure‘, ‘fascinating, beautiful and imaginative’, ‘The wonderful love child of the movie Spirited Away and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere‘, ‘combines elements of several different genres, all told in first person perspective‘, ‘captivating tale of love, mystery and fantasy cast between reality and a supernatural realm‘, ‘It’s not often that a supernatural romance is truly original, but this one was quite unlike anything I’d ever read in the genre before‘, ‘a fantastically written book, that kept me reading until after my usual bedtime‘, ‘this has a sense of timeless magic about it‘,  ‘a compelling insight into Malayan folklore, and I found it to be very interesting and intriguing‘. (I could go on forever here, there are literally thousands of amazing reviews for this book! -C.L.)

The Bad: I found the middle section of the book frustrating and far too long winded and unnecessarily descriptive‘, ‘despite some beautiful imagery and scene settings, “The Ghost Bride” is painfully slow‘, ‘I found the plot quite simple, and the layers of incidents and subplots needlessly convoluted‘, ‘total lack of character development killed this book for me‘, ‘ I am sure there are readers out there who couldn’t put it down…I sure could‘, ‘Who knew the afterlife was so boring? I didn’t finish this one and skipped to the end which was boring too‘, ‘the plot of the book didn’t capture my interest and I found the lead character to be whiny/annoying‘, ‘I’m not saying this book is necessarily terribly written or anything, but it bored me to tears and I didn’t want to finish it‘, ‘The title is misleading and NOT what I thought it was going to be‘, ‘Not what I expected. And not in a good way’, ‘Although I do not dispute that THE GHOST BRIDE is an original idea, personally I didn’t feel that the characters were developed enough for me to lose myself within their story‘.

The Darn Right Ugly:one of the worst, most ridiculous stories I’ve ever read, with the shallowest protagonist possible.‘, ‘The plot is cardboard, but maybe the characters are interesting? Li Lan is an idiot.‘, ‘This whole book was a mess‘, ‘I’m abandoning this one after about 100 pages under the Life is Too Short and There are Too Many Good Books rule’.

The Unicorns: As a Malaysian, it felt like Choo was writing a personal story just for me. The sprinkling of Malay vocabulary felt like delicious candy in my mouth — I read them aloud — and though set more than a hundred years ago, I could picture it all in my head‘, ‘Simply put, The Ghost Bride is fantastic.‘, ‘I hope the author writes a sequel!‘, ‘The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo is one of the most gorgeously written novels that I’ve read this year.‘, ‘a stunning debut that has stayed with me long after I finished.‘, ‘This book has two things that make it so much fun. The first is the detailed historical setting that was totally new and interesting. The second is a gripping plot filled with fun characters. I can’t stop thinking about the book. I want a sequel!‘, ‘my appreciation is for more than the story alone; it’s also for the storyteller. Yangsze Choo is mesmerizing in her style.‘, ‘Definitely an author to keep an eye on. Cannot recommend enough!‘, ‘

This Book Has Been Compared/Likened To:
Novel Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away Animation, Novel Peony in Love by Lisa See, Author Amy Tan.

 Release date: 6th August 2013

Pages: 368

Age Range: 13+

Contains: Ancient Chinese customs and traditions. Mild violence.

Genre(s): Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance.

Awards: Four literary awards at the moment, see them here.

About The Book: “One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”

Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

UK Amazon Rating: 4.0 Stars (4.0 Stars)

goodreads Rating: 3. 99stars(3.73 Stars)

Where to Buy? UK Amazon: Kindle, £2.63.  Paperback, £7.99. US Amazon: Kindle, $3.66. Paperback, $10.53.

About the Author: Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent. After graduating from Harvard, she worked as a management consultant and at a startup before writing her first novel. Yangsze eats and reads too much, and often does both at the same time.

Author’s Websites:


Twitter: @yangszechoo


Disclaimer: The reviews and opinions above are either from online sources or my own, and have been collaborated together for the ease and benefit of potential new readers. All ratings have been collected from the date of this blog’s publishing and will potentially change in the future.

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