As a working mom, my most recent literary fixes include A Very Hungry Caterpillar and Go Dog Go. As fascinating as those stories are the 100th time around, I needed a new book to read for MY reading pleasure (in all that free time I have, wink!).

I was not sure what to expect when I first picked up The Ghost Bride (William Morrow).  I typically enjoy historical pieces in my reading and movie choices, so I was intrigued by the book’s description and figured the story would be along the lines of historical fiction meets murder mystery. Turns out it also includes romance, paranormal activity, adventure, Chinese mythology, and so much more!  This remarkable debut novel from Yangsze Choo is one that you won’t be able to put down.

Set in Malacca (Malaysia) in 1893, the novel’s protagonist, 17-year-old Li Lan has few prospects to better her bankrupt family’s future. That is, until she receives an unusual proposal for marriage from the wealthy Lim family. Proposal from a full family seems strange as a concept. Until we learn why—they want her as a ghost bride for their dead son. The union would guarantee Li Lan and her family be taken care of for the rest of her days…but at what price?

The deceased heir, Lim Tian Ching haunts her dreams. As Li Lan attempts to rid herself of this unwelcome spirit, she soon finds herself trapped in the afterlife. To make her way back to the land of the living, Li Lan must first discover the Lim’s dark family secrets and truths about her own past, but time is running out…

This captivating novel with its colorful characters and imaginative scenery transported me to a world of haunted mansions, ox-demons and hungry ghosts, rather than the crowded, stale-aired subway car of my reality. Choo’s writing made my subway commute, dare I say, enjoyable?! Here’s to hoping for a sequel.

Anne is a guest book reviewer for Spa Week Daily.