August 11, 2014

The Ghost Bride Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Ghost Bride! Today I have a really cool guest post to share with you and don't forget to enter the tour wide giveaway!

The Ghost Bride

Author: Yangsze Choo
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Release Date: August 5, 2014 (paperback)
Publisher: William Morrow

Description:’s Book of the Week, a Carnegie Medal nominee, and Goodreads 2013 Best Fantasy finalist. THE GHOST BRIDE is a historical fantasy.

"One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride..."

Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim's handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family's darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

Chinese Paper Funeral Offerings

When I was a little girl, I sometimes helped my grandmother fold paper funeral ingots to be burned as offerings. These were made out of special gold paper and were folded into realistic gold bars - sort of like origami for the dead. In addition to the gold bars, my grandmother also burned lots of paper money printed up as “Hell Bank Notes”. I remember wondering whether this was really going to the deceased, and if so, whether there was any inflation in Hell, since the notes were printed in million dollar denominations!

The reason for all these offerings was because of the Chinese belief in ancestor worship, and an afterlife that required many of the things to make the deceased comfortable. Houses, horses, and furniture were the traditional accompaniments. In many ways, it was no different from the ancient Egyptians, who provided for their dead with funeral goods and statuettes, or the Vikings, who burned long ships and killed slaves to accompany them in the afterlife. The quintessential Chinese example is, of course, the terracotta warriors of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb, which were, as I remarked to my husband when we went to see the exhibit, absolutely class A funeral goods – life-size terracotta warriors, horses, real chariots etc. For everyone else who couldn’t afford such luxuries, there was always paper.

In fact, the cottage industry of making paper funeral effigies is still thriving today. If you visit Hong Kong, Singapore, or Malaysia during the Festival of Hungry Ghosts, you will see many examples of this art, which is both colourful yet morbid. It is believed that whatever is burned will become real in the ghost world, thus one has a duty not only to living relatives, but also to the dead, who might visit you in a dream complaining that they needed more money, a bigger house, or even a wedding, which is what happens in my book, THE GHOST BRIDE.

While researching the novel, I noticed that paper funeral goods had advanced with the times. Old fashioned paper clothes, shoes, and gold ingots have never gone out of style, but now there are also paper iPhones, paper minivans, and paper Louis Vuitton suitcases. I saw stacks of paper Chanel lipsticks and perfumes, paper Gameboys, and paper roast chickens in three flavours (boiled, soy sauce, and roasted). On a more poignant note, I also saw paper toys, presumably for children who had died young.

The practice of burning paper funeral goods can be seen as a way to continue caring for loved ones. People select items according to their relative’s tastes: one friend told me that her grandfather was offered books, a desk, writing instruments etc., while her grandmother, who was very fashionable, was given an entire wardrobe of clothes, a paper yacht, and a paper helicopter to accompany her mansion. It is a link between the living and the dead, and one that, despite its strangeness, is still cherished. If you’d like to see more pictures of paper offerings, please come visit my blog at

Thank you so much for having me - it’s been a pleasure! 

Thanks for stopping by and telling us about the tradition of paper funeral offerings Yangsze!

[Photo caption: A paper funeral mansion burned in Singapore as a hotel for wandering spirits. I took this picture during the Hungry Ghost festival]
Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Chinese from Malaysia. After graduating from Harvard, she worked in various corporate jobs while secretly writing fiction between financial spreadsheets. Now a stay-at-home-mum, she writes late at night when her kids have (finally!) gone to sleep. Yangsze Choo eats and reads too much and often does both at the same time at her blog,

To enter the giveaway, click HERE.

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