Publisher: William Morrow
"One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride..."
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.
The research that must have gone into this is astounding. It has the realistic setting and cultural cocktail that made up Malaya at the time. 5X5!!
Revolted by the idea of being a ghost bride, Li Lan never suspected she may have an opportunity to find out what it meant to be both dead and alive. This then changes everything.
The remarkable research and masterful storytelling made it hard to put down. I loved reading about the different cultures and seeing what changed because of the British and what still remained from the Islams. The superstitions, especially those from Li Lan's Amah (a type of nanny) were fascinating but also hinted at the seriousness of the afterlife.
There are wonderful, well-rounded characters whose flaws and quirks make them so likeable you kind of wish you knew them. For me it was Amah.
I did have a bit of a problem with the generic ending but I had a fantastic time learning about Li Lan, the culture she was apart of and the lore surrounding a ghost bride.
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