Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.
Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.
After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim's handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family's darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.
I have to prewarn you before I start this review that this was a DNF for me. I hate posting DNF reviews but I think that it's important to do in order to keep my integrity as a reviewer, especially if the book had some good points like The Ghost Bride did. Yeah, odd as it may sound for a book that I eventually gave up on, but The Ghost Bride is a great book that will appeal to a lot of people, I just think that this was just... well... not me. It took me four days to give up on this book and I got over two hundred pages in, but the last one hundred looked so long and I didn't want to waste another two or three days on a book that i wasn't really invested in, so I made the difficult decision to give up.
What I really struggled with - and what most readers would appreciate more than me - is that the writing is quite literary, very classical. I found it a little bit boring but I've never really been one for a 'classic' writing style, I've always liked my narrative to be modern and spunky and relateable, even in my historical books. So even though I liked the plot and the characters and I liked where it was going, none of that really mattered because the writing was so difficult for me to push through. I really appreciated Li Lan and Tian Bao and Er Lang as characters and I would happily have read this book in a few hours if I hadn't felt like I was swimming through custard with the writing style.
So, if you're the type of reader that enjoys a very descriptive, literary type of writing and you also want something YA but different definitely read The Ghost Bride. It's actually a great book, but if you find extremely descriptive writing a little boring, like me, you may find yourself struggling to get through it as well.
Overall Rating: DNF
Book released 1st August 2013 by Hot Key Books
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review