My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Asian, Romance
Purchase: Book Depository
This review contains no spoilers.
The book begins in the best possible way, with the sentence: “One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”
If you’re not already intrigued then there’s no point in reading on farther. Ghost Brides are an ancient tradition, most common in East Asian cultures such as China where a living person marries a ghost or two ghost marry one another, a ‘Spirit Marriage’. This is done for many reasons, including;
- A first son Died Unmarried. Chinese tradition states that the first son must be married first, so if he died before his marriage some families would be alright with that and just marry the next son, while some families (particularly wealthy ones) would insist on marrying him either to the spirt of a woman who died unmarried or to a living woman. The latter is the case in The Ghost Bride.
- A Woman Died Unmarried. Women who died unmarried weren’t allowed much, they couldn’t die in the house and they couldn’t be honored in the family’s shrine. Sometimes if the girl was particularly beloved by her family, they would find someone for her spirt to marry. This kind of marriage was most commonly done between two unmarried spirits.
Why should you read The Ghost Bride? Not only is it full of wonderful Chinese/Malaysian history and culture, theres intrigue, murder, heartbreak, and a love interest you won’t be expecting (this is a love story I can actually approve of, by the way). I liked all the characters (even the villains) for how they were written. They were all very believable and reacted to their circumstances perfectly. Despite being a story based on a religious practice that I personally don’t believe in, the book was incredibly believable. I can’t get over how real the people seemed, I didn’t feel like I was reading a book at all, but that I was actually living in the story.
What I learned about writing:
Never be afraid to try something crazy: I’m sure some people looked at the idea of a Ghost Bride and never went past that. They never took the chance to realize what it is and that its apart of someone’s history.
Diversity Rocks: Diversity is the ‘in’ thing at the moment, and some authors are doing it better than others, but this is a case of diversity done well. Its an almost completely non-white cast (there are a few European supporting characters), and because its done by someone who clearly knows what she talking about – she talks about all the research she did – and it matter.
Research: Even though Yangsze Choo is of Chinese decent she still did a lot of research and thats what makes it so good. Just because you have experience with something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t research it to give the best portrayal possible.