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Dragon Springs Road

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,468 ratings  ·  358 reviews
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
Paperback, 367 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  2,468 ratings  ·  358 reviews

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Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, arc, edelweiss, china

Jialing’s mother would often leave her in the Western Residence for hours; sometimes overnight, visiting Noble Uncle. The longest time before had been two days. As she burned incense in front of the Fox altar that morning, her mother had told her this time she would be back in three days. The month was November and the year was 1908. After they prayed, her mother dressed her in her new winter tunic that she’d cut from one of her jackets, silk crepe. She’d embroidered a garlan
Angela M
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was lovely descriptive writing, often lyrical. I couldn't help but care about 7 year old Jialing, abandoned by her mother with no one but the fox spirit to take care of her and give her guidance. If your going to read and enjoy this story you have to be able to accept this fantasy aspect. I was surprised that I actually had no problem right from the start even though I am not a fan in general of fantasy. Jialing is Eurasian, "zazhong"
Elyse  Walters
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
"Both my words came out more sharply than I'd intended, but my life had been a
leaf, blown around a courtyard at the behest of others. My mother, then fox. The Yangs, Anjuin. Even Miss Morris. They had all made decisions on my behalf. It had been necessary, I knew that. I had been a helpless child".
"From now on, however, the decisions ruling my life had to be my own".

Jialing was considered illegitimate and a "zazhong"....(Eurasian: of mixed blood), a daughter of a prostitute.

Even with an edu
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Dragon Spring Road is a book that mixes two genres that I love; historical fiction and fantasy. I think adding the fantasy element of the Fox, an animal spirit to the story was a brilliant move. It gave the story something extra. Otherwise, we would have a traditional historical fiction tale, but now with the added mysticism, we get something a bit different.

The story of Jialing is a sad tale, she is left by her mother when she is a little girl and she is taking in by the family that moves in. H
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really liked this, except for some of the stuff that happened close to the end, which felt a little melodramatic. Also, I know this story is fiction/historical fiction, but it has a fantastical element, Fox, the fox spirit, so I'm thinking that this is borderline fantasy, too.
There's some really painful stuff in this story; Jialing, a mixed race girl is taken in by the Yang family after her mother disappears. Jialing has the companionship and protection of Fox, so her nights are occasionally liv
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs, read-in-2017
5/5 stars


"The body is only a shell.... where the gods chose to discard it is not for me to guess."

In this absolutely beautiful second-novel by the wonderful Janie Chang, the reader follows a young girl named Zhu Jialing and her hardships from childhood until womanhood. Jialing is a "zazhong" - a girl born to one white and one asian parent, which immediately sets her up for discrimination and hatred even from strangers on the str
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
More like 4.25 stars.


When I first started Dragon Springs Road, I didn't feel too invested in the story, and was thinking this would be a 3 star read.

However...This story became so much more around the 100 page mark, and with every chapter proceeding, Dragon Springs Road became so much more interesting, intriguing, and just so much more.

There is some magical realism in this book, and magical realism is not something I typically gravitate towards. However, I really enjoyed the magical reali
Harpercollins Canada
Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang, is, simply put, a beautiful novel. The novel deals with identity, otherness, race and struggle. With a hint of the magical. It combines the real with the ethereal and it was a truly enjoyable experience.

Read our full review here.
Stephanie Thornton
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I grabbed Janie Chang's newest novel, Dragon Springs Road, to keep me occupied during my painfully long flight from Alaska to Japan. Instead of getting any work done, I found myself totally immersed in this enchanting tale of 20th century China and ended up relating the story to my ten-year-old daughter, who absolutely loves foxes. Needless to say, Fox was our favorite character, blending beauty and fantasy into this gorgeous work of historical fiction.

As a history teacher, I also appreciated t
Katie/Doing Dewey
Feb 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Summary: Enjoyable but a bit bland and not as good as the author's earlier novel.

Although I enjoyed this book, it left me with mixed feelings. The writing was good, but it mostly just stayed out of the way of the story. The scenery wasn't easy to picture and sometimes I felt I was only given a few small details about a place or a person - not enough to picture them as a whole. The plot was fast-paced, but I didn't feel especially emotionally invested. The only time I found myself getting a littl
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every night I couldn't wait to pick up this book and re-enter the estate on Dragon Springs Road, just outside of Shanghai. This beautifully written historical fiction brought early 20th century China to vivid life. As with most periods of history in most areas of the world, this was not a great time for women who were forced to be completely dependent on men. There are several characters, old and young, with bound feet which surprised me. I didn't realize this barbaric practice continued so late ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do you really want to know what it's like to be a Fox? Her voice echoed in my head, amused. And I settled inside this memory, seeing what Fox wanted to show me. I was myself and I was also Fox.

When Jialing's mother fails to return after leaving her alone in an abandoned home, she is left hungry and scared. A child of mixed race in 1908, a shameful thing , she will find refuge as a servant for the new owners. The idea of a young girl on her own, making her way in an effort to survive is heart-wre
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating 4.5 stars

This was such a lovely book! I really enjoyed the magical realism dealing with Chinese folklore and the setting was masterfully described. I really fell into the world of China at the turn of the century. The plot was full of cultural strife, political intrigue, and relationship drama. It ticked so many boxes for what I look for in a historical fiction and I am really glad I found this book through Muse Monthly!
Rather mediocre and very slow book.
Interesting because it is set in beginning of 20 th century China, and written well, but that sums up the positive points . I did like the combination of historical fiction and supernatural here, but it never outweighted the meager plot.
Helene Jeppesen
May 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This story is about Jialing who is only 7 years old when we meet her in Shanghai. Jialing is also a Eurasian: half European, half Asian, and while you wouldn't think that's much of a problem, it was back in the beginning of the 1900s in China.
I thought that this book would explore the Eurasian problem more than it did. Instead, it felt like "Dragon Springs Road" came with a lot of different themes that pointed in different and confusing directions, instead of focusing on just that one theme. I
A Random Enthusiast
I don’t remember the last time I was as entranced by a historical fiction novel as I was by Dragon Springs Road. I would be lying if I said it didn’t make my heart break (several times) and made me wish I could change Jialing’s life in the snap of a finger. Truthfully I stray away from historical fiction novels because they make me feel a mix of frustration and sadness that I can’t quite explain. Might be because although this is a fictional story, the dehumanization of Eurasians was very much a ...more
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really a lovely tale. My only complaint is that the end seemed a tad rushed, but otherwise it was such a beautifully told story.
Christine Moore
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I really enjoyed this magical book. It is a story of Jialing. She is a Eurasian in China in the year 1908. She is abandoned by her mother when she is seven years old and is taken in by the Yang's. Her best friend is Anjuin and Fox the animal spirit her mom has look over her. Jialing's life is hard as a Eurasian, the Chinese people want nothing to do with her. Fox helps her in any way she can. It is a magical story which I loved. Thank you to the WFWA Many Voices Book Club giveaway for this wonde ...more
Jennifer Lafferty
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had no idea how much I would like this book when I first heard about it! Janie Chang is very gifted storyteller. Her characters are vivid and captivating, the story is full action, intrigue and surprises. The poignancy at the heart of this story about an abandoned girl in early 20th century China who longs to find her mother, is very moving and is the foundation for a complex saga about survival, friendship and romance. The author also cleverly intertwines the political upheaval that was takin ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Combine an intriguing story with history and romance, a story with twists and turns that is never predictable or boring, excellent writing, and you have a winner in this atmospheric historical novel of a young Eurasian girl trying to find her place during turbulence in early 20th century China.
Susan Wojtas
DNF....I know this is a very popular book, so I'm definitely in the minority on not really enjoying it. Maybe it just wasn't the right time for me to read it or something. I may come back to it at a later date. I enjoyed the Fox spirit the most, and there were chapters that were quite good, but there were also chapters that were very boring to me. I did like her writing style all in all though.
Kate Hilton
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A major achievement by an immensely talented writer. Not to be missed.
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. "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 t
Beverly Swerling
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this delightful novel. Janie Chang's fine writing and her ability to take us inside a world ostensibly so different from our own (but is it really?) is part of what makes her work special. The other part is her love and respect for and careful rendering of the cultural myths (I use the word in the most positive sense - a story explaining frequently profound and complex truths) that illumine the world of her characters, and helps us to see it as they do.

Jialing and her experience of othe
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-rep, 2019
Overall: 3.5/5 stars. Well-written and a good mix of historical detail and character development to tell the protagonist's story from child- to adulthood.

- No use of deus ex or insta-love; the otherworldly influences were kept believable and within reasonable limits.
- Strong, eloquent narrative voice that effectively captured both a) emotion; and b) how hard decisions were made and rationalized.
How many different kinds of pain can there be? How much loss can the human heart endu
Stacie  Haden
3.5. It was written well. I have to say that I was put off by the mystical element. This one could have been done without it. I realize that many Chinese stories of old include the fantastical, but sometimes it takes away.
Amethyst Travis
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Magical. Beautiful. Delightful.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up through a giveaway, probably on LibraryThing. When it arrived in the mail, I didn't remember why I'd requested it, but I could easily see how the cover had caught my eye -- it's a gorgeous cover.

With my huge TBR pile I thought that this was going to sit on my bedside table for a while, and I expected it to be the sort of slow literary book that would take a week or two to get through. To my surprise it turned out to be a page turner. I couldn’t put it down and stayed up la
Ameema Saeed
I am an Indigo employee, and I received an advanced reading copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music, in exchange for an honest review.

What a beautiful, beautiful book. It reminded me a LOT of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (one of my favourite books), and it did so in a way where it didn't feel like a copy. Dragon Springs Road is beautifully written, and I loved loved loved being in Jialing's head. The narration always felt honest and Jialing's struggles and experiences as a 'Eurasian' were
Angélique (MapleBooks)

Dragon Springs Road, published this January, sets the bar very high for 2017's Canadian literature. This second novel by Janie Chang is a unique, beautiful, human, and insightful novel. Set near Shanghai, China, in the early 20th century, Dragon Springs Road tells the story of Jialing, a little orphan girl of mixed-heritage: she is Eurasian. In her times, this meant shame and rejection. Racism was so strong that most Chinese as well as Europeans just winced in disgust at the sight of her.
"I was
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Janie Chang grew up listening to stories about life in a small Chinese town in the years before the Second World War and tales of ancestors who encountered dragons, ghosts, and immortals. Her two novels, THREE SOULS andl DRAGON SPRINGS ROAD have been nominated for the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award. DRAGON SPRINGS ROAD was a Canadian national bestseller. Her upcoming novel THE LIBRARY OF ...more

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“If you believed only what the stories say, you'd think we do nothing but wreak mischief.” 2 likes
“The best gardens are created through the art of deception, says Fox. Gardens should employ the art of the large in the small and the small in the large, providing for the real in the unreal and the unreal in the real.” 2 likes
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