Title: Dragon Springs Road
Author: Janie Chang
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publish Date: January 10, 2017
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "In 1908, Jialing is only
seven years old when she is abandoned in the courtyard of a once-lavish
estate outside Shanghai. Jialing is zazhong—Eurasian—and faces
a lifetime of contempt from both Chinese and Europeans. Until now she’s
led a secluded life behind courtyard walls, but 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
courtyard for centuries. But Jialing’s life as the Yangs’ bondservant
changes unexpectedly when she befriends a young English girl who then
Murder, political intrigue, jealousy,
forbidden love … Jialing confronts them all as she grows into womanhood
during the tumultuous early years of the Chinese republic, always
hopeful of finding her long-lost mother. Through every turn she is
guided, both by Fox and by her own strength of spirit, away from the
shadows of her past toward a very different fate, if she has the courage
to accept it."
My Two Cents:
"Dragon Springs Road" is the story of Jialing who is abandoned by her mother (who Jialing fears may be gone forever) to the family that moves into the compound where they lived. Luckily the family is kind to Jialing and she is allowed to live there with a Fox spirit who sometimes appears as a literal fox and sometimes as a gorgeous woman. It is the early 1900s in China and the country is changing rapidly. This book is a historical fiction with a healthy dose of magical realism.
While the story line itself was very good and interesting, this book was a mixed bag for me and felt a little uneven. It took me awhile to get into the story. There was a lot of set up that goes into the story and it moved quite slowly. By about the last third of the book, there is a ton happening and it all happens very quickly as if the writer were in a rush to end the book. The very end itself seems like there may be an opening for a sequel, which would be welcome to tie up the remaining loose ends.
I don't read nearly enough historical fiction set in Asia. I was swept up in the description of the setting. Jialing has spent most of her life in the same house with a big, beautiful garden and the Fox spirit that her mother prays to. As the story goes on, the garden changes to reflect the events of the book, which I thought was a really cool device. I loved the descriptions of both of the houses on the compound.
I also loved the descriptions of what life was like during that time period in China. As I mentioned before, this is a time when things are changing rapidly. As Jialing is mixed race, she is sent to mission school to learn English, which will hopefully help her in the future as she has no true family. There are a lot of political implications that are referred to in the book, which was a nice taste of a history that I don't visit in my reading all that often.
Overall, this story was good even if they way that it was told was uneven.