This book sat unread on my Kindle for nearly three-and-a-half years. For NEARLY THREE-AND-A-HALF YEARS I deprived myself of the beautiful, evocative storytelling of Yangsze Choo. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?!? (No, wait. Don’t answer that.) Semi-incoherent gushing to follow.
This book is gorgeous. The writing, the descriptions of the spirit world, the afterlife, 1890’s Malacca: Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Malacca is a port city in Malaysia (or Malaya, as it was called back then), and it is depicted in the book as a true melting pot of numerous cultures. Li Lan is a compelling narrator, a believable mix of naïve and resourceful, and it’s a pleasure to see her home town and its blended belief systems through her eyes.
It seemed to me that in this confluence of cultures, we had acquired one another’s superstitions without necessarily any of their comforts.
(I’ve seen other reviewers quote this line, and I thought about finding another so I wouldn’t feel like I was copying, but I really love it so I’m quoting it anyway. Nyah nyah.)
The story unfolds like a Chinese fable, complete with hauntings and demons and mythical creatures. It’s a bit slow to start, but once the pace picks up it’s a fantastic ride. And while I’m disgusted with myself for not reading it sooner, I’m also glad. If I had read it as soon as I bought it, I’d have had to wait nearly four years for Yangsze Choo’s next book instead of four months or so. (It’s not a sequel. I’m just excited for more gorgeousness.)
I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 13 square.