Novella Review – The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho


Goodreads Synopsis:

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. 


So this is a book I’ve had on my wishlist for a long time, since well who wouldn’t want to read it after reading the part in bold above? Anyway, I finally got around to reading it as I was looking for a nice short break as I work my way through a 5-book series. I adored The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo and so was very excited to find another book set in the Chinese afterlife.

As mentioned, this story is set in the Chinese afterlife which is a fascinating place. The book doesn’t explain much but rather expects you to be familiar with a lot of things (or to just pick it up as you read) so if you don’t know much about it, I’d recommend reading up on it a bit first so that you can appreciate the setting more.

The story starts with Siew being married off to a rich man in order to make his first wife jealous and then her husband comes home with Yonghua who is his new, Terracotta, bride. From there follows a lovely story which I shan’t spoil other than to mention that there is f/f romance (because well, I certainly would have grabbed it a lot sooner if I’d known that).

It’s an absolutely enchanting story and despite its short length, manages to seem so much longer. I fell completely in love with it and the rest of Zen Cho’s work has just shot up to the top of my to-read list. I would highly, highly recommend this novella as it just blew me away and is such a lovely and interesting read.


3 thoughts on “Novella Review – The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho

  1. I have been meaning to read this for almost two years and I kept forgetting about it so thanks for the reminder! It sound awesome, I love fantasy stories set in Asia because they feel so fresh and original compared to the typical European medieval setting that is used in 99% of the fantasy published nowadays!


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