I was at the library when the gorgeous cover of the Ghost Bride caught my attention. Glad it did because Ghost Bride was wonderful and beautifully written. Choo describes places, people , and food vividly so it was easy to imagine the story as I read. The book was completely absorbing for me because I found the cultural beliefs to be so interesting and in depth. Becoming a ghost bride was a rare practice but when it was offered from one family to another family's daughter it was usually to appease the restless soul of the deceased.
Li Lan, the young and beautiful main character, learns that her father, who has retreated from public life due to a horrific illness with smallpox that left him scarred, widowed, financially strapped, and dependent on opium, has recently received an offer of marriage from a wealthy family for Li Lan in exchange for his debts. Unfortunately for Li Lan, the offer is not for a traditional marriage but as a ghost bride. Li Lan will have the traditional wedding, traditional feasts, and the comfortability the in-laws money will provide but standing in for the deceased groom will be a rooster. No husband! A rooster!! One can only imagine the grim future that must lay ahead for a bride that is to become an instant widow. Uh..no thank you! Of course, Li Lan feels the same way and is horrified of such a marriage happening. She then begins to have nightmares that consume her waking hours and drain her of happiness and cause her to become ill. It is here that the story really takes off and introduces the reader to such beliefs as the Chinese afterlife and the ghostly worlds that can be found there.
I really enjoyed Ghost Bride. Very different from what I normally read but it was reminiscent of Amy Tan's The Hundred Secret Senses and I loved that book. Ghost Bride is great book. Period. One cannot go wrong by picking up this book to read. In fact, I plan to buy a copy to add to my bookshelves because i just might read it again one day and it is such a lovely book to own. Enjoy!!