The Ghost Bride (chapters 1 – 10)
Synopsis: It’s 1893 Malacca, a small port town of Malaya governed by British. Despite evidence of the town’s westernization, there remain Malaccans who adhere to their traditional customs—one of those practices being ghost marriages. With her family bankrupt and father shut in from self-isolation, Pan Li Lan’s prospects for a bright future look grim. That is, until the wealthy Lim family propose that she become their dead son’s ghost bride. Should she accept, she will be ensured a comfortable home from then onward, but at what cost? After a visit to the Lim mansion, the deceased Lim Tian Ching begins visiting Li Lan, drawing her into the afterlife. Separated from her body, Li Lan soon finds herself trapped between the world of the living and that of the dead. In order to rejoin her physical form, she races to unearth the Lim family’s secret—as well as her own family’s—before the separation turns permanent.
Thoughts: I attempted this book once before, only for classes to cut in on my free time and force me to sit it down. I read through a whole whopping three chapters! But from that I knew of Yangsze’s attention to detail, and I expected The Ghost Bride to traipse not aimlessly but slowly. These descriptions shouldn’t be glossed over, but savored. It’s not often that I discover an author who knows just the right amount of detail to pour into a narrative without weighing it down from verbosity.
It was bright, but there was no sun, merely the whiteness that comes from a fog at midday. And like a fog, parts of the house seemed to vanish as I passed, so that the way behind was shrouded in a thin white film.
True to its locale—1893 Malaya—real-world backdrops help reflect a setting’s image inside readers’ minds, but Yangsze’s imagery is mighty impressive at times. Now that I’m reading The Ghost Bride with renewed interest, I’ve found that the wording reels me in. Rather than slowing down to appreciate detail (or detail slowing the narrative!), Yangsze’s world comes alive and time passes by unnoticed. As a minor note of critique, however, Yangsze’s writing oozes foreshadowing. Much of this leaves me pondering in anticipation, such as the particular attention paid to the Mr. Lim’s third wife. From this I suspect her status to rise, but at the cost of Mrs. Lim—only I’m left to figure out why. (And I do love concocting scenarios.) But what my criticism applies to are moments of heavy-handed implications that are brazenly pushed in my face:
Madam Lim must have thought me simple or at the very least unsophisticated. I caught her sharp pigeon eyes studying me from time to time. Strangely enough, this seemed to relieve her. Only much later did I understand why she was so pleased with my gauche performance.
It’s deflating. Deflating, because I feel a fully heightened awareness of the situation. This particular passage is up for interpretation (I want to keep this spoiler-free), but other occasions remove suspense by how straightforward the statements are. All in all, this particular issue remains VERY minor when compared to The Ghost Bride‘s strengths, and I look forward to continuing Li Lan’s adventure.
Synopsis: Although his appearance may lead you to believe otherwise, Do Min-joon can hardly be called “human”—or perhaps “earthling” is a better term. 400 years ago during the Joseon Dynasty, Min-joon came to earth, but as circumstance would have it, was left behind. Now present day, Min-joon will soon have his chance to return home in three months, but life becomes complicated for the cynical taciturn when top Korean actress Cheon Song-yi makes a crash landing of her own.
Thoughts: Cheon Young-si easily wins top spot on my list of favorite sassypant divas (whom I love to love), because rude exterior aside (which is nothing more than bravado), she’s a character the audience can sympathize with. The writing certainly helps in this regard, but I appreciate that Young-si is never the first to strike nor is she intently malicious. She does, however, prove
comically embarrassingly ignorant. Okay, so she doesn’t know how to order a mocha, but she’s more capable than she realizes. She craves affection and lives with the mindset that hate mail is better than no mail. I feel for her, and anyone who’s experienced isolation while surrounded by people can understand. People are quick to badmouth Young-si the moment her back is turned and perform a 180 when they speak to her face, but bad publicity is better than no publicity, right? Ehh, it’s really not, but I think Young-si will soon realize this if she already hasn’t. The girl has wounds, and she’s rubbed raw—continuously, but I’ll be happy to see those cuts heal as she grows.
(And I know I spent an entire paragraph on Jun Ji-hyun‘s portrayal of Young-si, but Do Min-joon (Kim Soo-hyun!) is just as good—as is the two leads’ chemistry. And when I ship, I ship hard. I fell in love with Kim Soo-hyun watching Dream High, and I literally bawled over Sam-dong and Hye-mi days after I finished the show. Please be kind, Drama; my heart is fragile.)
But even with all that praise, I feel let down. My Love From The Stars saw success so huge that even non-drama fans are aware it exists and an American re-make—pause for cringe—is in the works. Ratings aren’t everything, but the acclaim and large fanbase helped place it on a pedestal, and I’m sad to say I find it overrated. Upon saying that, I can hardly complain about the dialogue or acting, and the gorgeous cinematic scenes leave me quite impressed.