Title: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1)
Author: Chloe Gong
Publisher: Margaret McElderry Books
Publication date: November 17th, 2020
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.
The Violent Delights is a Shanghai twist on Romeo and Juliette, where Roma and Juliette are rival gang heirs in the city of Shanghai. The Communists have entered the city and are trying to take over and spread their ideals, in a city where more and more foreigners are coming to change the Chinese. The Scarlets and the White Flowers are trying to keep their grips on half of the city, when a deadly monster takes root and starts killing hundreds quickly. The two must find a way to stop the monster and keep the foreigners out, but secretly because of the blood feud between their gangs.
These Violent Delights is a mess of gory, violent plot mixed with two morally grey characters in a forbidden love story. Frankly, I LOVED IT. There is so much going on in this story and all of it is interesting. I love the dramatic retelling of the Shakespeare classic, there are so many callbacks to the source material but Chloe Gong has made the story her own. Beware, she is not kidding with the amount of violence. Juliette’s character is mysterious, bloodthirsty, and savage – while being super interesting and strong. Roma is more of a soft boy at heart, but not afraid to kill a man. Their families and the side characters all have their own plots that are separate yet keeping with the story. There is diversity within the cast – a trans character and what seems like will turn into a gay couple.
I will admit, the middle part of the story gets a bit tedious. I feel like there are some scenes that could have been shortened to keep the plot moving faster. The pacing slows down in the middle third and picks back up towards the end. BUT the end completely makes up for the middle, and left me shook and completely shocked. Others may see it coming, but I truly did not. SO ready for the sequel.
Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
Happy reading, folks!