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.
Jialing is only seven years old in 1908, when she is abandoned in the courtyard of a once-lavish estate near Shanghai. Jialing is zazhong - Eurasian - and faces a lifetime of contempt from both Chinese and Europeans. 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 haunted courtyard for centuries. But Jialing's life as the Yangs' bondservant changes unexpectedly when she befriends a young English girl who then mysteriously vanishes.
Always hopeful of finding her long-lost mother, Jialing grows into womanhood during the tumultuous early years of the Chinese republic, guided by Fox and by her own strength of spirit away from the shadows of her past. But she finds herself drawn into a murder at the periphery of political intrigue, a relationship that jeopardizes her friendship with Anjuin, and a forbidden affair that brings danger to the man she loves.
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The narration was spot on, and spectacular. I was so enthralled with it I couldn't stop listening to the book even though I'd already read it and knew what was going to happen, but the talent with which it was narrated provided me with different feelings throughout the wonderful storytelling from the author.
Full disclosure - I purchased this audiobook after previously reading the novel purely to support the author. However, the narration that Emily Woo Zeller provided took me deep into the story again, in a different way.