A coworker suggested this book to me, and she was right: I read it as fast as my eyes would let me.
THE PLOT: It’s a little hard to explain. In Victorian-era Malaya, Chinese-descended Li Lan is approached by a wealthy family to become a ghost bride for their deceased son, Lim Tian Ching. While taking the offer would guarantee her comfort for the rest of her life, she’d also be stuck as a “widow” forever. Her father, an opium addict, wants her to make the deal to ensure her future, but Li Lan declines. Then her prospective ghost husband starts haunting her, his family starts “courting” her, and she becomes enamored of the family’s new heir, Tian Bai. But Lim Tian Ching believes his cousin Tian Bai poisoned him. An unexpected incident catapults Li Lan into the spirit world and on a journey of discovery.
MY TWO CENTS: My coworker recommended this book because she knows I love the Miyazaki film “Spirited Away,” and she said this reminded her of that. I completely agree. If you liked “Spirited Away” or any other Miyazaki film, then you will probably like the style of this book. The plot meanders around through different characters who appear and disappear from the narrative, but everything ties together in the end. Put another way, it’s kind of an Alice in Wonderland style of book. I’ve seen negative review points that focus on the style, so if you don’t like this disjointed style, you may not like the book. I knew going into it what to expect, so it didn’t bother me at all.
I was also inspired to do a little research on the custom of ghost brides. It was interesting to find out more about the beliefs of other cultures.
BOTTOM LINE: I LOVED this book. I read a library copy, but we’ll be investing in our own copy. Remains to be seen if that will be hardcover, trade paperback, or electronic, but I definitely want to own this book. [EDIT: we picked up a hardcover, but an ebook is not out of the question.]
TEACUP RATING: Five plus teacups out of five from me. LOVED IT. Hoping for more from this author, possibly even a sequel?
ON SALE DATE: The book is currently available in hardcover and ebook formats, and will be released in trade paperback on August 5, 2014.