Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang ~ New Release Review

Title: Dragon Springs Road
Author: Janie Chang
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal Elements
Length: 400 Pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Source: Amazon Vine
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

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 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 mysteriously vanishes.

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.

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**

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