The Ghost Bride, the gorgeous debut novel by Yangsze Choo, is set in Malaya in the 1890s. It is the story of a young girl, Li Lan living with her scholarly but opium addicted father and Amah, a servant who is more like a nanny. Her mother was lost to a smallpox epidemic that also left her father badly scarred.
Her father's fortunes are in decline, so, one day after visiting with a wealthy acquaintance, he makes a proposal to his daughter. The wealthy family's only son had died, and they would like Li Lan to marry the dead son and be his ghost bride. The upside is she would live very well. The down side, being married to a dead guy. Does she give in to this family's wishes? No spoilers here!
This book took turns I didn't expect and the author creates a dream world and a spirit world that become more and more believable as the story progresses. She also created one of the most unique and captivating leading men who will be introduced to us bit by bit until he becomes one of the most memorable fictional presences I can recall in a long time. He will take your heart unless it is made of stone... and while Li Lang tries to deal with the ghostly bridegroom as he haunts her dreams and makes choices that take her on an unexpected journey, this character becomes central to her quest.
I absolutely adore Ms. Choo's work. I read the Night Tiger first and then sought out The Ghost Bride. She is a masterful storyteller and brings the reader right into her atmospheric Malayan setting with its jungles and city landscapes and, in this case, otherworldly settings, and the characters that populate them.
If you are looking for something that will keep you engaged and reading till the end and that makes you want to go back and reread it so you can stay in that fictional world, then be sure to read the Ghost Bride. I'll be finishing my Night Tiger review shortly, which I also highly recommend! 5 shiny gold stars!