These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
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.
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Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an eARC through netgalley (I also somehow won a physical ARC through GR so that was cool). This does not impact my review which is unbiased and honest.
I loved buddy reading this with Fanna and you should definitely go check out her blog HERE. We evened each other out because I’ve read the original play which this is a twisted retelling of, and Fanna is a history buff so together we really had some great commentary that ranged from actually informative to just incoherent screaming!
Now when I say twisted retelling, I seriously mean twisted. I thought I was prepaared for what would happen. I mean, it’s Romeo and Juliet, right? Oh, gosh. It was so much more than that. Not only do we have these star crossed lovers in rival gangs… but there’s also this wild (sort of graphic) disease that is spreading throughout the city and monsters and murder? It was wild!
Forget teaching Romeo and Juliet in schools, they should make this required curriculum instead because you get history but also entertainment and tragedy and just *chef’s kiss* star-crossed lovers. You know what class this would be perfect for? World Literature. I took a World Lit class in 10th grade and it was paired with AP World History and this would have been just PERFECT for that.
BUT I DIGRESS
Whenever I read a retelling or a book inspired by something, I love seeing parallels between the original text and the new story. I also love to see the story spun in a unique way. And this? This book was just GENIUS. It took the original play and turned into something completely new while also keeping elements of the original and making them even better and juicier and darker.
Juliette is the heiress of the Scarlet Gang but she was sent to the States for a few years and when she returns to Shanghai she has to deal with trying to solidify her role in the family, but also wrestle with the identity issues that I related to a lot. She talked a lot about how she’s too American for Shanghai, but too Chinese for America and wow, I felt that deep in my soul. But on top of that, Juliette is an incredibly interesting character. I loved reading in her perspective because not only could she shoot or stab me (and I’d thank her) but she is also emotional and calculated and just overall really badass.
Roma is the heir of the White Flowers and he has this air of mystery to him in the beginning. But he’s a total sweetheart?! I have to admit, I had to grow to really like him, but maybe that’s because I was biased from being Scarlet Gang. The two leads contrast each other really well in my opinion, but they also had these similarities that made it so easy to want them to be together. The TENSION. oof.
I also loved that we get a glimpse into some side characters like Kathleen and Benedick and Marshall. I don’t want to elaborate too much about them because it was honestly a really cool surprise to see them spotlighted and see their importance in the plot as the story went on.
I really thought that this was just going to be about rival gangs and drama and blood feuds and then all of a sudden I’m sucked into this twisted story of people (GRAPHIC CONTENT) suddenly getting possibly attacked by a monster and dropping dead by clawing their throats out. Honestly not something I knew would happen and yet, I was here for it completely.
If I didn’t read at the most inconvenient times, I probably could have finished this in one or two sittings because it was just so interesting. I loved how the history and politics were intertwined with this story. And on top of that, it was just so immersive. Honestly, I can’t get over how this book was such a cool blend of murder mystery and historical fiction and maybe a little sci-fi fantasy. Like seriously genius.
On top of that, we get that star-crossed lovers romance where you crave for them to just KISS ALREADY.
I don’t even know how to end this review because I just want to gush about how I would theorize how things would wrap up and none of my theories ended up coming true and it was seriously mind blowing. Everything you think might happen… well, prepare to just be completely thrown off and surprised.
I would recommend this to anyone that likes Shakespeare retellings with incredible twists, a book that blends genres, enemies to lovers to enemies romance, and a thrilling ride. If you’re a fan of complex and morally grey characters, betrayal, contagion, female leads that aren’t afraid to just go off and male characters that are just a little afraid of shooting you but they will if they absolutely have to, and that one trope where one person hold up a gun to shoot the other but you also just want them to kiss already and you can feel that tension then definitely pick this book up!