I picked The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo because it’s the first fiction book set in Malaya (19th century Malaysia) that I’ve come across – plus I love ghost stories. The story centres on Li Lan who becomes haunted in her dreams by a ghost who turns out to be her fiance thanks to an arranged marriage proposal. In love with another guy, Li Lan finds ways to avoid her dead fiance and eventually does by unintentionally leaving her body. Li Lan travels to the world of the dead to discover how to get back inside her body before she truly becomes dead. On top of that, she has to get rid of her fiance and clear suspicions of the other guy being a murderer. Don’t worry, a teen can handle it.
I was exposed to the rich language and culture (I was able to relate because of my Chinese and Indonesian background and the whole multicultural environment in colonial Malaya – Australia is multicultural). I never heard of ghost marriages which is part of Chinese culture so I thought the concept was haunting but interesting. I wonder how these marriages turn out in reality. I’ll research about them later.
Each chapter got on my nerves in a good way and they kept the plot at a high stake, though I think the book could’ve live without the subplot of Li Lan’s object of desire being a potential murderer. There are a lot of things going on including the secondary antagonist whose part should’ve been fleshed out and not left until towards the last few chapters.
Overall, The Ghost Bride is a brilliant story and has motivated me to research, write and read more stories set in Southeast Asia.