Something is a little wonky with my scheduling aspect of the website. I'm not sure if it's me (and something I can fix) or something that someone with more technical experience and back-end knowledge only can fix. So...this is supposed to show up on Wednesday...but we'll see how that goes.
I received this book in a Muse Monthly box, which no longer exists. It was a fun box because I received books (and tea!) from authors that I wouldn't normally gravitate towards. I wouldn't say I enjoyed all of them but I think the box editor's taste was pretty good. It also helped me gather more of a taste of tea flavors. I thought I was going to prefer lighter tea, floral teas,etc...nope. Black tea. STRONG tea. Light me up because I need my tea to be vicious.
Title: Dragon Springs Road
Author: Janie Chang
Page Number: 367 pages (paperback)
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction, fantasy
Publisher: William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins
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.
This story is about Jialing. Jialing is a "zazhong" or Eurasian. She's not accepted in Chinese society nor is she accepted in Western society. She's abandoned by her mother one day at the estate and she stays there until a new family moves in hoping that they'll allow her to stay. This part of the story takes place around 1908.
The fantasy element is the "fox spirit" that guides Jialing through her life. It wasn't a crazy element or out of place so it did seem odd to label it as fantasy but I suppose within genre frameworks. Maybe it's more magical realism?
The new family, the Yang family, take Jialing in as a bondservant (I'm not totally sure what that was other than an unfree house worker). She does make a nice friendship with the Yang daughter, Anjuin,
The book follows her growing up within the Yang household, searching for her mother, falling in love and escaping her status.
I struggled through sections but overall the quality of writing was lovely. It really sets the scene and is so lyrical. I was quite excited about the possible murder sub-plot because most of the books in the subscription were literary fiction without any mystery aspect. In comparison to most books I'd pick out, this wasn't so mysterious but compared to literary fiction, this was quite packed.
Most of the reviews I saw were positive but her first book, Three Souls, was universally praised. So for this book: slow start, ending wrapped everything up nicely, beautiful writing, interesting time period, and a nice break from my normal genre. I had it as 3.5-4 stars as it's well done but not my normal like.