The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. ★★★★
Li Lan is the seventeen year old daughter of a declining Chinese merchant family in colonial Malaysia. Her mother’s dead, the family business close to nonexistent, and her father’s addicted to opium. Then, Li Lan receives a marriage offer from the wealthy Lim family – for their dead son. Their marriage would placate his restless spirit. Li Lan refuses the marriage offer, but she soon finds herself haunted and drawn into an otherworldly realm.
The Ghost Bride is a historical fantasy novel with an extremely vivid, atmospheric setting. While The Ghost Bride isn’t marketed as YA, I think it could make an easy crossover. The protagonist is a teenager, the writing is graceful but accessible, and to cap it all up there’s a love triangle. Luckily, it wasn’t a super angsty love triangle, but it was there.
I liked Li Lan as a protagonist. From the very beginning of The Ghost Bride, it’s clear that Li Lan has a strong sense of curiosity about the world. Yet due to her gender and station in life, she’s constrained within the walls of her house. Thus when the supernatural events of the story begin to occur, a part of her sees it as an adventure. It’s a chance for her to explore and she learns about a part of the world she never knew existed.
There’s many different elements making up The Ghost Bride. There’s the journey into the world of the dead, a ongoing romance subplot, and a murder mystery as well. I never had any trouble with the pacing and found myself drawn irresistibly through the story. Thankfully, there was also enough of the supernatural element to keep the fantasy fan in me happy.
I would recommend The Ghost Bride for anyone looking for a combination of fantasy and historical fiction. Or to anyone else who’s simply in want of an enjoyable book.