These Violent Delights
by Chloe Gong
YA Historical Fiction, Fantasy
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.
This book has one of the best premises I’ve ever heard. A Romeo and Juliet retelling set in Shanghai in the 1920s? Yes, please. It also helps that it’s kind of similar to my own current work in progress, which is also a Romeo and Juliet retelling. I’ve seen this book doing the rounds in the book community so I knew I had to check it out.
I really enjoying the writing style of Gong, I think she definitely has a talent for making this immersive story with her beautiful description and imaginative setting and characters. I loved how well she weaved in the original Shakespeare play, but she also gave this book her own original twist to keep us on her toes. I enjoyed that Roma and Juliette were enemies instead of instantly swooning over each other, I thought this was a nice touch – and hey, who doesn’t love an enemies-to-lovers romance?
Not going to lie, I did find myself a little bored about halfway through so I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I thought it would. I felt like all the science talk about vaccines and such left me quite disinterested and felt like it could have done without so much detail because it just made it less engaging. Once I fell into that hole, it took me ages to get through but the ending did make up for it and reeled me right back in.
Speaking of, Chloe Gong is absolutely sick for that ending. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more shocked, bam, something else happens that literally left me sitting there with my jaw hanging open. She sure knows how to deliver an effective cliffhanger, and I’m definitely intrigued for when the sequel comes out.