From the author of Three Souls comes a vividly imagined and haunting new novel set in early 20th century Shanghai—a story of friendship, heartbreak, and history that follows a young Eurasian orphan’s search for her long-lost mother.
That night I dreamed that I had wandered out to Dragon Springs Road all on my own, when a dreadful knowledge seized me that my mother had gone away never to return . . .
In 1908, Jialing is only seven years old when she is abandoned in the courtyard of a once-lavish estate near Shanghai. Jialing is zazhong—Eurasian—and faces a lifetime of contempt from both Chinese and Europeans. Without her mother’s protection, she can survive only if the estate’s new owners, the Yang family, agree to take her in.
Jialing finds allies in Anjuin, the eldest Yang daughter, and Fox, an animal spirit who has lived in the haunted courtyard for centuries. But Jialing’s life as the Yangs’ bondservant changes unexpectedly when she befriends a young English girl who then mysteriously vanishes.
Always hopeful of finding her long-lost mother, Jialing grows into womanhood during the tumultuous early years of the Chinese republic, guided by Fox and by her own strength of spirit, away from the shadows of her past. But she finds herself drawn into a murder at the periphery of political intrigue, a relationship that jeopardizes her friendship with Anjuin and a forbidden affair that brings danger to the man she loves.
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Janie Chang writes historical novels that draw upon family history for inspiration. She grew up listening to stories about ancestors who encountered dragons, ghosts, and immortals, and about family life in a small Chinese town in the years before the Second World War. Her second novel, Dragon Spring Road, was released in January 2017. Her first novel, Three Souls was a finalist for the 2013 BC Book Prizes fiction award, one of 9 Canadian novels long listed for the 2015 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Born in Taiwan, Janie has lived in the Philippines, Iran, Thailand, and New Zealand. She now lives in beautiful Vancouver, Canada with her husband and Mischa, a rescue cat who thinks the staff could be doing a better job.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Abandoned by her mother at 7, Jialing comes of age as a bond servant to a wealthy family. The education provided her through extraordinary circumstances is for naught, for she is zazhong—Eurasian, an outsider. A fox spirit guides Jialing through a hostile culture as the young woman discovers that she can take no one’s identity at face value. In the tumultuous times of early 20th century China, a politically-motivated murder endangers her life and the man she loves. Jialing automatically accepts the centuries-old fox spirit, a shape-shifter who also appears as a woman, and a conduit for the girl to travel through time and space along with the spirit. Chang brilliantly portrays the fox spirit’s abilities and limitations, fully developing her complex character with her own conflicts and goals, including friendships and romantic love. Loyalty to her human friends drives her actions, as a companion and a source of wisdom. Tension is maintained throughout the story as bigotry slams door after door in Jialing’s face, opportunities as fleeting as the wind, and she learns her precarious place in her world, yet always yearns for more. In early 1900s China, even a child is suspect if of mixed race, so that her continued existence relies on the good will of others. Chang weaves this prejudice throughout a storyline of journalistic intrigue, political criminality, rape and murder, showing how Jialing’s zazhong life is worth nothing to anyone. As a fan of historical fiction with speculative elements, I loved learning about another culture with mystical aspects, and I highly recommend this novel and author Janie Chang. Check her out: https://janiechang.com/
I'm always skeptical when it comes to reading fiction set in old-world China, published and written in the English versus in the Chinese language first. Why? That's because I can read and write Chinese, and that I am Chinese. I know that doesn't sound like enough of a reason, but it has something to do with past experiences with works of fiction that just didn't fit the stories, the folktales and the culture that I grew up hearing and reading about. However, with Janie Chang's Dragon Springs Road, the cover was just too gorgeous and enticing to let the opportunity pass. And I was not disappointed at all. Dragon Springs Road alluded to a certain mystique. It combined the folklore of the Fox spirit with hierarchical social status in China, wrapped with the cultural authenticity of a tumultuous time. From personal research and reading about China during the early 1900s, times were tough for many people. And for those like Jialing, our main protagonist, biracial and orphaned, there were so many obstacles to overcome. Yet, her journey is the very essence of this story. It latches onto you from the first page to the last. The author, Janie Chang is exquisite in her storytelling. I can't praise enough when an author not only gives me characters with depth but also a plot so seductive in its execution, mystery and suspense. Not to mention the authentic quality of its representation of the Chinese culture, without the many stereotypes and prejudices I've encountered in the past (of other works of fiction). Dragon Springs Road is rich with history, beautifully written, dramatically compelling and visually stunning. For my clean readers, please note there are some intimacy in this book. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
I quickly fell in love with Dragon Springs Road. The character of Jialing is adorable at the beginning, and watching her grow into a strong woman willing to push the boundaries of what society allows her do was incredible. As a Eurasian, Jialing doesn't fit within any society and both look down on her as something less.At first she accepts this role in her life, but after making friends with the daughter of the Chinese family she lives with and attending a mission school, her views begin to change. She doesn't understand why she is worth less than Chinese or European women, why she can't do anything they do. Pushing her, and helping her behind the scenes is Fox, an ancient Chinese animal spirit that befriends her after her mother abandons her. Fox nudges the people in her life in directions to help Jialing along the road she needs to follow. Fox was a very interesting character. At first she seemed very frivolous and selfish, but as I got to know her better I discovered how selfless and giving she was. In the end, I think she was one of my favorite characters of all. Jialing has to navigate a very difficult Chinese world. There is murder, coups, wars, and so much political drama. And each one threatens in some way to tear apart the little world she's made for herself. Dragon Springs Road was a fascinating tale, and I think I'll have to explore more from Janie Chang soon. **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book**