I want to say that I enjoyed this novel more than I did, as it is I waver between two and three stars in rating this. I liked the concept well enough, but that wasn’t quite enough to cover the writing flaws. Ghost Bride is the June pick for the Vaginal Fantasy book club, and honestly I think it’s kind of a weird pick. Although the story contains a romance, it isn’t a love story. I mean, I definitely tend to prefer stories that contain romance as opposed to being out and out love stories, but it’s kind of an odd choice for the book club.
The book is set in British Malaya and deals with citizens of Chinese decent. Li Lan is the only child of a down-on-it’s-luck merchant Chinese family. As a daughter she can only hope to raise her family’s fortunes through marriage, and when a ghost-marriage is proposed she finds herself pulled into the spirit world. Though this story deals mainly with Taoist beliefs and spirits, it briefly brushes up against the other religions that existed in British Malaya from Catholicism to Islam to Confucianism, it’s very clever that way. Honestly the story is very interesting. There’s spying and a spirit war and romances that aren’t what they seem.
So the question is, if the story is so interesting, why did I not enjoy it the book all that much? Well, mostly it comes down the writing, which is very stilted and clunky. Part of this is due to the info dumps as Choo tries to explain the various types of ghosts and spirits to the western reader. Except the info dumps are not done very smoothly. It was unwieldly enough to be detrimental to my enjoyment of the novel.
I’m glad this was the Vaginal Fantasy book this month as I wouldn’t have gotten past the first chapter if I was reading this on my own. This is a first novel, so I’ll keep an eye out for further books from Choo. As I said, I think the story was interesting and Choo just needs a little smoothing with her writing. I do think that if you’re looking to expand your reading beyond white, western male authors then this is a decent option.