Lis Carey Review: On the Fox Roads

  • “On the Fox Roads” by Nghi Vo (Tor Books, 2023)

Review by Lis Carey: A Chinese American girl in 1930s America hooks up with two Chinese American bank robbers, Jack and Lai. The girl’s parents had lost the deed to their store to the bank, and then Jack and Lai robbed the bank and took the deed with the rest of what they stole. Now, the girl wants to steal it back from them.

Two adult bank robbers aren’t overcome by a young teen girl, but they offer her a chance to earn it back. She becomes their lookout, getaway driver, and occasional more active participant in some crimes.

Along the way, she gets dressed up as a boy for one job, and finds this feels much more natural to her. Or rather, him. He learns the ways of Chinese magic, and not just the “fox roads,” or spirit roads of Chinese mythology.

There’s something of a bond between these three characters, but they don’t all have the same goals. They also all have secrets they’re keeping, and as they bank rob and shoplift their way across the country, it eventually all comes to a head, as it must.

It’s an interesting and well-done story, but for some reason it just didn’t connect for me the way Vo’s Singing Hills stories do. Maybe 1930s bank robbery just isn’t as compelling for me?

This is a 2024 Hugo Awards Best Novelette Finalist.

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