The Ghost Bride

A Novel
Narrated by: Yangsze Choo
Length: 12 hrs and 7 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (2,111 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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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What listeners say about The Ghost Bride

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • 06-01-19

Muddled

I had to consider my feelings about this book. Today so many books have plots that are, if not variations on a common theme, then formulaic enough to be categorized into specific genres. This plot is original and, as the book opens, it draws you in and keeps your attention. For me, though, the book then faltered. I skimmed reviews to see if I could find in others’ words the reason that my own interest waned. One person used the word muddling, and I agree. Another correctly noted that it was hard to remember why Li Lan travelled to different parts of the underworld; her motivation became bogged down in a myriad of details. Some books are structured around their own universal rules, and in understanding those rules, you fall deeper into their universe. This did not happen for me, as the Ghost Bride’s Plains of the Dead was built upon a litany of laws. While these laws may be based upon culturally accurate facts, it was difficult for me to mentally organize their details, as well as the details of a nefarious sub-plot. And there were so many details. At one point the description of Li Lan’s escape from a room takes paragraph after paragraph. But as to the fate of a very interesting foe, it literally came down to Li Lan saying, “So whatever happened to...?” This type of resolution is always frustrating for a reader. I would gladly trade the imagery of braids, doors, birds, chairs, dinners, etc. for a few extra paragraphs of closure. Also, I could not wrap my imagination around the silk threads. They were so clearly a vehicle for the acquisition of information necessary for plot progression that they did not seem like an organic part of the story. I sometimes wonder how books lauded by Oprah and Reese leave me cold. Am I such a curmudgeon? Still, it was worth reading.

24 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Delightful, Original, Well Done!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Ghost Bride to be better than the print version?

I would definitely recommend the audio edition over the print. I didn't have to struggle with pronunciations and could just relax and listen.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Er Lang - who turned out to be a surprise (at least to me). I really enjoyed his personality.

Which character – as performed by Yangsze Choo – was your favorite?

Yangsze Choo was an excellent narrator. I loved how she performed each character and made them different.

Who was the most memorable character of The Ghost Bride and why?

Li Lan, of course, being the main character!

Any additional comments?

The author does a tremendous job of drawing the reader/listener in to her world. I loved the way the author described each scene in detail, It made me want to learn more about why the author wrote it and if any of the portions of the book were based on actual customs or folk tales.

43 people found this helpful

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One of the best books I've ever read

This books has it all: adventure, comedy, romance, mystery, faraway places and times. It's the only audiobook I have listened to twice. The romance is unique and believable. The narration (by the author!) is perfect--plus the author has a beautiful voice. The only drawback to this book is that it doesn't have a sequel.

31 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Pretty good but not great

This is a very original story. I've read plenty of supernatural tales, but have never read anything like this before.
Li Lan is a young, intelligent, and beautiful woman living in Malaya in 1893. Unfortunately, as her family fortunes have dwindled, her chances of making a good marriage have as well. The wealthy and powerful Lim family offers her father an "out": if Li Lan will become a "ghost bride" for their newly deceased son, they will forgive his debts, and Li Lan will live a life of luxury as a widow in their home. She will want for nothing, except love and children of her own. Li Lan refuses their offer, and the Lims become ever more frantic. Soon, Li Lan herself is haunted by the young man's very insistent ghost.
The story is told in a leisurely fashion (at several points a little too leisurely!), and the plot takes several sharp and unexpected turns. Original as the story is, the resolution is more than a little unsatisfying.
On the whole though, it's seriously worth a listen. I'm looking forward to more from this author.

29 people found this helpful

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I want there to be more book

If there was a sequel, I'd listen in a heartbeat--loved the book, beginning to end.

16 people found this helpful

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A wonderful trip

I enjoyed this audiobook very much. The author as narrator worked very well in this case as she has a lovely voice and of course pronounced things correctly.

It is a wonderfully original story; her "spirit world" is one I've never seen before and I enjoyed every new situation and character.

Modern novels are in such a hurry to get to the "chase", to propel the plot, that they give short shrift to descriptions of surroundings and people and Choo falls into that sometimes I think. What descriptions she does give to the world and the people of her novel she does well - I just wanted more of that!

19 people found this helpful

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What an unusual book!

This book is a cross between the Odyssey and a Hayao Miyazaki film. Definitely not predictable, as unusual as a Haruki Murakami book but without the weird sexual stuff. I loved it and feel like I have learned something about Chinese ancestor worship. So many twists and turns, I could not stop listening. Loved it all the way to the last period.

12 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

This book was slow and I found myself continually glancing at the amount of time remaining in the book hoping the story would progress faster. I’m not one to return a book for a credit but if I was, this would be the book. Highly overrated and under engaging.

5 people found this helpful

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Intersection of Worlds

Having the author read this book added to the feeling of otherworldliness. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the activities of the dead that are going on all around but unseen by the world of the living. Great characters and an unusual and diverting story.

9 people found this helpful

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Fantasy novel or Ghost story?

Not bad. It wasn't exactly what I expected, however. Fantasy novel or Ghost story? It was a bit weird, but the Chinese lore was fascinating in that way. Li Lan made so many references to the afterlife having distinct parallels to the life of the living. I thought this was going somewhere and she would learn some moral or truth (whatever), but nothing ever came of this. I was left to come to my own conclusions there, which is fine except that I felt that she was building to something that never came. Many parts were slow for me, hence the 3 stars, but it wasn't bad.

23 people found this helpful