The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo is an interesting novel set in a world few in the West are familiar with. Set in 1893 in the Malaysian port city of Malacca, it is a story about Chinese traditions both in the earthly world and in the afterlife.
Li Lan is the daughter of a once-prosperous businessman. To settle his many outstanding debts, Li Lan has been offered in marriage to the deceased son of the Lim family- a ghost bride. Li Lan does not agree to the match, but she is attracted to the new Lim heir, Tian Bai. The son comes to Li Lan in her dreams, however, pressuring her to marry him; and in the attempt to rid herself of these dreams Li Lan inadvertently enters the spirit world, where she tries to uncover the mysteries of the Lin family and of her own, and to decide how she wants to continue her life in the earth-bound world.
I found this novel fascinating for its descriptions of Chinese culture and spiritual traditions. I lived in Malaysia for six months after university and remember being amazed with the shrines just about everywhere that always seemed to have fresh food offerings. I only spent a few days in Malacca, but this novel took me back to wandering the old and (to me) quaintly narrow streets and to the Chinese cemetery on a hill (perhaps the one mentioned in the novel?).
I had a problem with the way the novel ended, (which says more about me than the book) but otherwise I enjoyed the story and it brought back some nice personal memories.
For more thoughts about The Ghost Bride, please be sure to visit the other stops on the tour.