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Historical Fantasy Early Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Egalley thanks to William Morrow

Synopsis from Goodreads
Li Lan, a young Chinese woman in lush, 1890s colonial Malaya, hopes for a favorable marriage. But the proposal she receives from the wealthy Lim family is for their dead son, who begins to shadow her mirror and her dreams. Set in the elaborate world of the Chinese afterlife, with its parallel ghost cities, paper servants, and monstrous bureaucracy, THE GHOST BRIDE is based on a peculiar historic custom amongst the Chinese in Malaysia called a spirit marriage.

Release date: August 6th 2013.

Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository US/UK | Fishpond


* * *
Simply put, The Ghost Bride is fantastic. I went into this book fully expecting historical fiction with a murder mystery twist. What I got is a delightful paranormal story the likes of Spirited Away.

The book starts slow describing an impoverished Chinese family in Malaya. Li Lan's mother died when when she was little, and she basically grew up with her grieving dad who smokes so much opium that he managed to lose family fortune and any prospects for his daughter to make a prosperous marriage.

So when Li Lan's dad suggests to her a ghost marriage to a rich Lim family, she is absolutely horrified, because it's the worst thing she can do to herself. But then Lim Tian Ching, the dead son of the family starts haunting her dreams, and in a bid to stop him, she goes to a medium and starts drinking sleeping drought to ward off a hungry and petulant ghost who slowly drinks her life force.

Little does she know that an overdose of the medicine she took would put her into coma and leave her spirit wondering the dangerous waters of the underworld...

When Li Lan herself becomes a ghost, this book hits you like a ton of bricks. It turns into a gripping and intense story where the main heroine, a resourceful and brave girl,  teams up with a mysterious deity, Er Lang, to uncover the corruption of Hell officials who help Lim Tian Ching with his position of power and haunting of an unwilling bride.

Be ready for the ox-demons, Plains of Dead, fascinating funeral and ancestor prayers of Chinese mythology, a host of wonderful and complicated characters, and  a race against time, where Li Lan has to complete her tasks before the link between her body and spirit severs.

Li Lan and Er Lang's entanglement is completely unexpected and comes as a wonderful surprise when she still thinks that she is in love with another young man. He is cocky and secretive, and absolutely delightful, and has a lot of different facets. You warm up to him slowly, but once you do, like Li Lan herself, you can't look away.

Strong heroine, captivating story and wonderful glimpses of Chinese traditions and customs towards the dead. I really enjoyed The Ghost Bride and very much recommend it.

* * *
Невеста Призрака оказалась для меня совершенно неожиданным и прекрасным сюрпризом. Я начала читать эту книгу, ожидая историческую драму с детективным расследованием, а получила увлекательнейшую историю, полную хитрых призраков, демонов и продажных бюрократов китайского Ада.

Ли Лан живёт с обедневшим купцом отцом, который чрезмерно увлекается курением опиума и оставляет хозяйство в руках верных слуг. Из-за финансового положения семьи у Ли Лан нет никаких шансов на удачный брак, но когда отец упоминает возможность стать невестой призрака сына богатой семьи Лим, девушка в ужасе отказывается, так как более мрачной судьбы она себе представить не может.

Однако её неприятности на этом не заканчиваются. Сын семьи, Лим Тиан Чинг начинает приходить к ней во снах и преследовать её из каждого зеркала и тени, и Ли Лан теряет сон, энергию и силы, пока в отчаянии не обращается к медиуму, которая даёт ей сонный порошок и бумаги, отпугивающие голодных призраков. Вроде бы жизнь должна наладиться, только вот Ли Лан по ошибке принимает слишком много снотворного и погружается в кому, где её дух вырывается из спящего тела.

С этого момента книга читается просто на одном дыхании. Ли Лан бродит по миру призраков и в  партнёрстве с таинственным китайском полубогом Эр Лангом пытается раскрыть кто стоит за коррупцией судей Ада, с разрешения которых Лим Тиан Чинг преследует свою призрачную невесту.

Только вот  у неё совсем немного времени на исполнение задач поставленных перед нею Эр Лангом, и если она не поспешит вернуться в дом своего отца, связь между её телом и духом окажется навсегда прерванной.

Наверное, самым неожиданным и приятным сюрпризом сюжета оказались отношения между Ли Лан и Эр Лангом. Эр Ланг - самовлюблённый, самоверенный, чудоковатый и в то же время смешной персонаж, к которому очень привязываешься со временем. 

Ли Лан на время встречи с ним думает, что влюблена в кузена своего "жениха", Тиан Бая, так что какие-либо чувства к Эр Лангу у неё развиваются постепенно. И честно говоря, на его фоне Тиан Бай совершенно бледнеет. Но я лучше замолчу и перестану раздавать спойлеры!

В общем, очень рекомендую! Прекрасная книга, замечательные главные герои и очень интересно читать о китайских традициях и обычаях по отношению к мёртвым.


Blodeuedd said...

It doesn't sound like anything I have read before

kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

It's not, Blodeuedd, but it's really good! :)

Victoria S. said...

Great review! I don't think I've ever read anything like this, and I probably would've thought at first to just skip it. But, I am not thinking I might check this one out now! :)

kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

Vika, I think you'll be surprised how much you'd enjoy it! *wink*

Victoria S. said...

Definitely. As I said this might be something I wouldn't have looked at myself, but I trust your opinions! :)) You always dig up some great books! And, I've been kind of more open to exploring and straying away from my beaten pass lately.
(Pls excuse my word mix-ups - clearly not enough coffee for coherent writing!)

Christina said...

Oh wow, this sounds so complex! I accepted the audio for review based on your recc, even though it's 24 hours long. O_O Anyway, I hope I love it!

kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

I really hope you will, Christina. I just felt that you might enjoy it as much as I did.

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

Oh you have me oh so curious, adding to my list for a winter read:)

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