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A startlingly original voice makes her literary debut with this wondrous coming-of-age story infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, adventure, and fascinating, dreamlike twists.

"One evening, my father asked me whether 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, traditional ghost marriages are used to placate restless spirits. 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 Lims' 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.

©2013 Yangsze Choo (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers

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    4 out of 5 stars

Mix between historical novel and ghost story

The story starts out as a truly fascinating tale set in Malaysia in 1893. The young female protagonist is the daughter of a formerly rich ethnically Chinese family whose marriage prospects are much diminished since the family fortune is gone and her father lives a secluded life. Through a series of unfortunate events, she fails into a coma of sorts and her spirit enters the Chinese underworld.
The settings are better developed than the characters and are really worth the read/listening to. There are some lengths in the story however.
The audiobook is done by the author. I am usually sceptical of that and prefer professional actors but this time it works astonishingly well. She has a great voice and manages to bring the characters to life.
Overall I really enjoyed this audiobook and would recommend it to just about anyone.