The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
Li Lan’s mother is dead and her father isn’t quite paying attention to things as he should. It’s about time Li Lan was married. There is talk here and there and a ghost marriage is mentioned. A ghost marriage is when a living person marries a dead person, so that the dead person may have the rewards of marriage. The person to whom the ghost marriage would be is not someone Li Lan is fond of, she doesn’t even know him very well, but he starts to appear in her dreams.
The dreams are not unpleasant, at first, but soon it is evident that the ghost has some unnatural sway on the land of the dead. The dreams become nightmares and Li Lan is willing to do anything to get rid of the dreams, even take a potion from a shady medium. During all of this, Li Lan develops feelings for the dead man’s cousin, who is actually the heir of the house of Lim. This all unravels when Li Lan takes a potion that makes her comatose for some time.
When she comes to, she’s not in her body. Her body is still alive, but Li Lan is not in it. She’s a spirit. Try as she might, she cannot get back inside of it. She meets other ghosts and starts asking around about what to do. Li Lan is able to see firsthand that her dead fiance has a huge sway in the ghost world. It’s because he has lots of money.
Li Lan meets a man named Er Long who tells her to go to the plains of the dead and find out what is happening. If there is evidence, the dead fiance may have to go before the courts of Hell and be punished for his misdeeds. Li Lan agrees to go. There she finds out all manner of things, including what her dead mother is like. She eventually does get back to the world of the living, despite some very narrow scrapes, but things there are not well either. Another ghost has her eye on Li Lan’s body and it’s not a good thing.
Ultimately, Li Lan must choose what type of life she wants. Does she want to parade as a regular human, who has never seen the world of the dead, or does she want to live on the fringe of the living and the dead, in a world she has now become somewhat familiar with?
What I liked
When I first started reading this book, I thought it was going to be a run-of-the-mill book about a Chinese girl who marries into some house or the other and things happen. Maybe her marriage is bad. Maybe it’s not. Whatever. This book exceeded my expectations. It was fascinating. Li Lan goes on some amazing adventures, but all the folklore is wonderful. I love how Yangsze brought the world of the dead to life. If you could see the spirit world, what would be there? Yangsze answered this question in relation to the beliefs of the area and it’s so incredibly interesting.
Li Lan is a likeable person. She’s not your typical froo-froo girl. Some of the other characters also turn out to be extremely interesting, such as Er Long, very interesting guy. Then there is the ill-fated Fan–also another highly interesting character with an evil twist. I love it.
I love folklore. This book brought folklore I have heard about to life.
What I didn’t like
Nothing. This was a great book.
I aint afraid of no ghost husband.
Would you marry a ghost if it gave you material gain in the current life?
Do you think you could imagine your belief of the afterlife as a real place?