Review: The Terracotta Bride – Zen Cho

The terracotta bride
Book cover: A woman stands in front of Hell

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.

THE TERRACOTTA BRIDE is an 11,000-word standalone fantasy novelette.

I’d been meaning to read The Terracotta Bride for quite some time, so I immediately took the opportunity to use it for one of the squares in Asian Lit Bingo. It features a Chinese Malaysian MC, so I was really excited because this is the first book I’ve ever read with a Malaysian MC.

It’s an #ownvoices story.

Excellent worldbuilding! It’s very well-structured and I was able to picture the Chinese afterlife very well.

The story pulls you in. I started to become more and more invested in Siew Tsin’s choices and thoughts. It was fascinating to discover Chinese afterlife through her experiences, as she was a very engaging narrator and was also still learning more about Chinese afterlife. The reader takes part in her development.

Yonghua (the titular character) is actually not the focus of this narrative, but rather what she stands for and who she is, leads to Siew Tsin learning more about herself and finding out what she wants for herself.

It was interesting to read about how engineering was combined with the fantasy aspects, and how they end up impacting each other. There is one passage where Siew Tsin remarks that they are slaveowners, and this thought was never addressed again. I would have liked to have known more about these two plot aspects though.

There is an f/f/f love triangle and an f/f romance (two of the people in the triangle) and none of them die at the end.

The Terracotta Bride is a beautiful, engaging novella. I think it’s the perfect choice if you’re looking for a quick read. As is usually the case with novellas, this novella also left me wanting to know more. I would be very interested in reading a sequel about Siew Tsin.

4 stars

Have you read The Terracotta Bride? What did you think of it?

8 thoughts on “Review: The Terracotta Bride – Zen Cho

  1. This sounds right up my alley!

    a lot of novellas and novellettes are only available as e-books, do you know if this one is available in a print version?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review, I have reading you reviews and you write nicely, a fellow blogger of mine is organizing blog tour and she requires bloggers, if interested please reply will forword you the link, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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