Book Review: Ghost Bride

Title: Ghost Bride

Author: Yangsze Choo

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal

Pages: 361

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Li Lan, the daughter of a once reputable but now bankrupt family, gets a marriage proposal from the Lim family, a highly respectable and wealthy family. However, it is a marriage proposal for their recently deceased son, Lim Tian Ching. Despite Li Lan’s refusal to be a ghost bride, she finds herself haunted by Lim Tian Ching and losing her health at the same time.

Favourite Quote:

N/A

Review:

It was a fascinating idea and had so much potential, but the execution was sadly disappointing, in my opinion. I think the first problem was that the intended audience was not clear. Was it for Malaysian or other Asian readers? A non-Chinese audience? Teenagers or adults? As someone very familiar with Malaya and Singapore history and Malay and Chinese culture, there was too much explaining of certain concepts, names, food and places in the novel. While I understand that the explanation might have been primarily for non-Malaysian readers to follow the storyline better, the way the explanations were woven into the story felt forced instead of a ‘show not tell’ manner. In addition, I don’t think there is a huge problem with readers doing their ‘Googles’ and actively learning more about a culture if they happen to be reading a book based on an unfamiliar culture to them.

The second problem I had was that the plot twists in the books were very predictable, and many aspects of the novel felt too convenient. For example, the main character’s love interest in the story was not believable. As a reader, I could understand the infatuation with the first love interest; however, they barely had any interactions to portray the implied deep love between them. In addition, there were even fewer interactions with the second love interest to understand why the main character would so easily choose them over the first love interest. In addition, the motivations for certain characters’ betrayal, help, and the reasoning behind certain characters’ talents were weak. ( I am trying to be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers).

The third problem was the execution of Chinese culture and its beliefs of the afterlife as the basis of the fantasy/paranormal elements in the book. I was pretty disappointed because that was a huge motivation for why I picked the book up. I was actually a little nonplussed when one character in the novel turned into a mystical creature. I thought to myself, why them and why all of a sudden and why this creature? In addition, the mystical creature chosen felt a little bit cliché. Since there was little justification for the world-building and certain fantasy elements (despite being based on cultural beliefs and not just make-believe), they fell flat and, as a reader, a bit unbelievable, especially when there were some inconsistencies.

Nevertheless, I still think it was a worthwhile read as I was intrigued to find out how the story would play out and end (though quite conveniently), and I greatly appreciated the representation showcased in the novel.

Other

The book was recently turned into a Netflix show; however, the trailer for the show hints that the series is a little bit different from the book. Here it is:

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 389

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Evelyn Hugo is a big-time Hollywood actress who has not been in the spotlight for a long time. However, now that she is older, she is about to do a tell-all (especially about her 7 marriages) alongside an auction of 7 of her most famous gowns for charity. However, she has chosen an unknown journalist Monique Grant to do the interview.

Favourite Quote:

“When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things.”

Pg. 41

Review:

Why this journalist? Why did she get married 7 times? Did she love all her husbands? These are all the burning questions that push readers to pick up the book. The author explains the dynamics between Hugo and her husband: why she felt compelled to get married and how the marriages came to their end. Yet, at the same time, while we are learning all of these and trying to understand the complex individual that Hugo is, the author ignites our curiosity about why Monique Grant is the reporter for the interview. Furthermore, there were many exciting twists and turns in the book (even though I guessed most of them).