Friday, October 18, 2013

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride is an atmospheric debut novel by Malaysian-born Yangsze Choo.

Li Lan is a young woman in colonial Malaya who becomes entangled in the affairs of the spirit world when an evil ghost is determined to have her as his bride. The convoluted plot reminded me of a Cantonese opera that I attended in Singapore, but without the opera's farce. Li Lan is a plucky and sympathetic character, an innocent who learns quickly to beware those around her because few are who (or what) they seem.

One of the traditional stories that Li Lan has enjoyed since she was a child is about the cowherd and the weaver girl. A comics retelling of this tale can be found in the collection Once upon a Time Machine (Dark Horse): "The Shepherd and the Weaver Girl" is by Saajan Patel and Jim Giar.

Readalikes: Half World (Hiromi Goto); Stardust (Neil Gaiman); Tea with the Black Dragon (R.A. MacAvoy); and the supernatural elements in The Hundred Secret Senses (Amy Tan) and The Woman Warrior (Maxine Hong Kingston). The Ghost Bride also has a similar feel to Miyazaki's anime film, Spirited Away.

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