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. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
I found the premise of this book a little vague and then it developed into something that kept me intrigued to see how things were going to be resolved. It’s definitely a book that is character driven rather than plot, but it was a book that I found to be a mental breath of fresh air. I love how Chang interweaves Fox into the story in a way that consistently has you wondering what the purpose will be. Jialing is precocious in a quiet way and you can’t help, but want to know how thing will turn out. My one complaint is that that the book felt a little drawn out at times, bringing it down a star for me.
I’d highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history, fantasy or looking for a lighter read.
Warning: Contains violence.
Rating: 4 stars!
Who should read it? Anyone interested in a historical book with a mixture of the whimsical added in.