Based on ancient Chinese mythology and the custom of marrying the living to the dead, Choo’s debut transports readers into a fascinating physical and spiritual world with her simple, eloquent prose. Here is a richly atmospheric experience filled with sights, sounds, tastes and smells of a time and place rarely seen in fiction. More intriguing is the blend of historical fiction and fantasy. Choo handles the complex mixture of reality and mythology beautifully as characters and scenes shift, yet her spunky heroine navigates the alluring and sinister afterlife with ease. Readers can only hope all will be answered in a sequel.

Li Lan is a pretty young girl whose opium-addicted father loses their fortune. When he is approached by the wealthy Lim family to give Li Lan to their deceased son, Lim Tian, as a ghost bride, he agrees since she will become a rich widow. At first Li Lan refuses, but as she is visited by Lim Tian in her dreams and meets the very much alive Tian Bai, she begins a strange journey into the afterlife. She begins to understand the rules of the ghost world and is drawn further away from life. (MORROW, Aug., 500 pp., $24.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin