Reviews for Ghost Bride
Booklist Reviews 2013 July #1
Choo's remarkably strong and arresting first novel explores the concept of Chinese spirit marriages in late-nineteenth-century Malaya through the eyes of the highly relatable Li Lan, a poor but spunky young woman, who is approached by the wealthy family of a dead man to become his bride. Li Lan prefers to rebuff the unusual offer despite its implications of good social standing and financial rescue for her money-strapped family. But when her dreams are brusquely invaded by the rather unsavory dead man, Lim Tian Ching, she realizes she may already be in over her head. Her dead suitor's living cousin, Tian Bai, now the family heir, further complicates matters as Li Lan wrestles with her very real attraction to him. As the angry ghost becomes more possessive in her dreams, and his family more demanding that she marry him, Li Lan's involvement with the Lim family becomes even murkier and potentially dangerous. With its gripping tangles of plot and engaging characters, this truly compelling read is sure to garner much well-deserved attention. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2013 July #1
A young woman risks giving up the ghost as she roams the afterlife in Choo's fascinating debut set in 1893 colonial Malaya. Young Li Lan's family was once rich and respected, but since her mother succumbed to smallpox when she was 4, her father, scarred from his own near-fatal struggle with the illness, has squandered the family fortune in a haze of opium. But she's still shocked and disturbed when her father asks her if she'll consent to become a ghost bride to the dead son of Malacca's wealthiest family, the Lims. Marriage to a dead man isn't exactly what Li Lan had in mind when she dreamed of her future, but after a visit to the Lim mansion, she does, indeed, dream of the dead son. Actually, the dreams are more nightmares since Lim Tian Ching is pretty creepy and persistent in his pursuit of Li Lan. He also informs Li Lan that his cousin, Tian Bai, the current heir--to whom she's attracted--murdered him. The dreams, which haven't exactly been conducive to a good night's sleep, take a toll on Li Lan's health, and she finally admits to her amah that she's being visited by ghosts. Her amah takes Li Lan to a medium, who supplies her with potions. After taking more than the recommended dosage, Li Lan's spirit leaves her near-lifeless body and enters the land of the dead and the near-dead, where she finds that most ghosts are pretty rude and uncivil. As she attempts to discover the true nature of Lim Tian Ching's death, Li Lan enlists the assistance of a selfish spirit named Fan who guides her to the Plains of the Dead. Her investigation into the Lim household is fraught with danger as Li Lan's spirit becomes weaker and she tries to avoid vicious ox-headed demons, Lim Tian Ching and other ghosts who wish her harm. But she's not totally alone: A mysterious stranger in a broad-brimmed hat, an elderly-appearing servant and a cool steed help her. Choo's multifaceted tale is sometimes difficult to follow with its numerous characters and subplots, but the narrative is so rich in Chinese folklore, mores and the supernatural that it's nonetheless intriguing and enlightening. A haunting debut. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2013 March #2
In 1890s Malaysia, penniless Li Lan agrees to become the "ghost bride" of a wealthy family's recently deceased son, following an ancient Chinese custom meant to pacify an anguished spirit. But she finds her husband's spirit intruding darkly on her dreams and must enter the stilly dread of the Chinese afterlife to set things right. With a 75,000-copy first printing and a reading group guide. [Page 90]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #2
In her debut novel, Choo tells the unlikely story of a young Chinese woman who marries a dead man. No, this is not a tale of vampires or zombies, but of an ancient custom among the Chinese in Malaysia called "spirit marriage." Set in 1893 colonial Malacca, the novel follows 17-year-old Li Lan, who, like other young women her age, hopes for a lucky and prosperous marriage. The wealthy Lim family's proposal seems to be a great stroke of luck--until Li discovers that their son, Lim Tian Ching, is already dead, stricken by fever months ago. Li's father refuses the offer, but even the prospect of marriage forces her to confront the fact that she and her father are in danger of losing the comfortable middle-class life they once enjoyed. Madam Lim presses her case during the day, Lim Tian haunts Li's dreams from the afterlife, and she pines for another suitor altogether--Lim's cousin Tian Bai. When Li falls ill, she plunges into the world of the Chinese afterlife, complete with ghost cities, servants, and its own bureaucracy. Choo's clear and charming style creates an alternate reality where the stakes are just as high as in the real world, combining grounded period storytelling with the supernatural. Agent: Jenny Bent, Bent Agency. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC