‘Bound Feet’: a beautiful ghost story full of folklore (and a 2022 favorite!)

October 31, 2022

TITLE: Bound Feet
AUTHOR: Kelsea Yu
GENRE: Horror
PAGES: 120pg
PUBLISHER: Cemetery Gates Media

On the night of the Hungry Ghost Moon, when spirits can briefly return to the living world, Jodi Wu and her best friend sneak into Portland’s Chinese Garden and Ghost Museum. Kneeling before the pond where Jodi’s toddler drowned one year before, they leave food offerings and burn joss paper—and Jodi prays that Ella’s ghost will return for the night.

To distract Jodi from her grief, the two friends tell each other ghost stories as they explore the museum. They stop at the main display, a centuries-old pair of lotus slippers belonging to a woman whose toes were broken and bound during childhood. While reading the woman’s story, Jodi hears her daughter’s voice.

As Jodi desperately searches the garden, it becomes apparent that Ella isn’t the only ghost they’ve awakened. Something ancient with a slow, shuffling step lurks in the shadows…

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Wow, this was incredible. I was sucked in from the very first page and could not put this novella down! I was so entranced by the setting and plot and characters that all I could do was enjoy the ride, and what a ride it was. This story is full of folklore and culture, but all of that takes a backseat to both the terror within these pages and the beautiful depictions of a mother’s love and grief.

In Bound Feet, our narrator is facing down the first anniversary of her daughter’s death, and she and her best friend have decided to revisit the Ghost Garden where the little girl drowned to give offerings to her spirit. What begins as a tragic and heartbreaking tale quickly becomes so much more when Jodi’s wishes to see her daughter one more time come true, but not in a way she could ever have predicted or hoped for.

The setting of the Ghost Garden is incredible, and Kelsea does a tremendous job of transporting the reader there, but the characters are even better. Jodi is such a sympathetic narrator and it’s so easy to feel her grief and loss that I wanted desperately for her to see little Ella again. I was shocked by the terrifying turn of events that took place, especially with the shocking ending that played out. I won’t spoil it, but if you’ve read it, all I’ll say is that I don’t remember the last time I was so saddened and so pleased by an ending at the same time.

Child loss is my only trigger, but I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to overcome that trigger in recent months because I would have hated to have missed this wonderful story. Kelsea blew me away with every single page and I’m so beyond excited to read more work from her because this was genuinely one of my favorite horror stories I’ve read in 2022 and I’m going to be recommending it for a LONG time to come.

Buddy read with Ashley! 💖

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.

content warnings →

child loss, grief, miscarriage, misogyny, violence, foot binding, child violence, infanticide, allusions to rape, slavery

representation →

Jodi and Sarah are both Chinese-American and a substantial portion of the story revolves around Chinese ghost lore and culture


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  • Reply Lyana October 31, 2022 at 6:18 pm

    Wow, this is the first I’ve heard of this book. It sounds amazing!

  • Reply Jai Lynn November 1, 2022 at 8:36 am

    This sounds really good! Definitely adding it to my list! Great review 🙂

  • Reply Weekly Check-in: November already?! - howling libraries November 3, 2022 at 10:50 am

    […] Bound Feet // Kelsea Yu ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (REVIEW) […]

  • Reply tasya @ the literary huntress November 5, 2022 at 1:40 am

    This one sounds amazing!

  • Reply October Wrap Up & November TBR // An exhausting month – The Literary Huntress November 5, 2022 at 5:26 am

    […] @ Howling Libraries reviewed Bound Feet by Kelsea Yu which sounds […]

  • Reply October Recap Time! - howling libraries November 7, 2022 at 9:01 am

    […] Bound Feet // Kelsea Yu ✨💞😻 […]

  • Reply Sarah November 27, 2022 at 9:44 am

    this sounds incredible! I’m definitely going to have to pick it up

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