Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
A+. I was entranced with Ghost Bride after seeing the series on a streaming service. I enjoyed it and wanted to read the book the series was based on. The book tells the story of Li Lan, a young woman in 1893 Malaysia. Her family, who were once wealthy and prominent, have fallen on hard times and are bankrupt. Her father receives an offer from the prominent and wealthy Lim family to wed Li Lan to their eldest son who has died under mysterious circumstances but, while alive, was a very repulsive and cruel person. The Lim family want Li Lan to become a ghost bride and "marry" their son to appease his spirit. She would be set up for life and her father's debts would be paid. Li Lan refuses and ends up being haunted by the malicious spirit of the dead son. She finds herself assisting and being assisted by Er Lang, a mysterious young man who hides a supernatural secret, to find out why the spirit is haunting her and what it wants. This involves traveling to the land of the dead with all its dangers. Part mystery, part romance and part fantasy, it's an intriguing look at the time and place of Malaysia and Chinese folklore. Its the revelation of who Er Lang is and what he is that I loved. This was something the TV series missed entirely and instead it made the character somewhat cartoonish. The characters in the novel are well written, and show personal growth from beginning to end as they go through various trials, especially Li Lan, who grows from a somewhat weak willed young girl to a strong willed woman willing to tackle whatever is thrown at her in both the world of the living and the world of the dead.