The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho


The Terracotta Bride - Zen ChoThis is a delightful little book.

I had read the description before buying it but then got a few library books and put this one on the back burner. I’m actually trying to catch up on the books I’ve actually bought because this happens a lot. Anyway, I had forgotten by the time I picked it up to read. I also didn’t realize how small of a book it was. Here’s the back cover:

A tale of first love, bad theology and robot reincarnation in the Chinese afterlife.

In the tenth court of hell, spirits wealthy enough to bribe the bureaucrats of the underworld can avoid both the torments of hell and the irreversible change of reincarnation.

It’s a comfortable undeath … even for Siew Tsin. She didn’t choose to be married to the richest man in hell, but she’s reconciled. Until her husband brings home a new bride.

Yonghua is an artificial woman crafted from terracotta. What she is may change hell for good. Who she is will transform Siew Tsin. And as they grow closer, the mystery of Yonghua’s creation will draw Siew Tsin into a conspiracy where the stakes are eternal life – or a very final death.

Who could resist, right? I have read some afterlife stories before and this may just be my favorite. This is the first time I’ve read about the Chinese afterlife (and no I’m not assuming, I got that straight off the author’s page here, no spoilers) and it’s fascinating. I had no idea what it would entail, but I enjoyed the allusion to the effect of Christian descendants and the concept of sending things to ancestors by burning paper copies, which was completely foreign to me.

Better than that was the conflict between the main characters. I like the light tension that was there and the way it seemed to hang in the air even when not all the characters were present. I particularly liked the turns that everyone’s reactions to the terracotta bride herself had over time and the role she played in the progression of some characters and the overall story. The end was beautiful.

This one is only available on Amazon.

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