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 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.
'Heady, smart, and vicious, These Violent Delights strikes every note with precision, layering romance and politics into a roaring 20s Shanghai of both monsters and monstrous imperialism' Tessa Gratton, author of The Queens of Innis Lear
- ISBN10 1534457690
- ISBN13 9781534457690
- Publish Date 17 November 2020 (first published 1 September 2020)
- Publish Status Active
- Imprint Margaret K. McElderry Books
- Format Hardcover
- Pages 464
- Language English
Proceed With Caution:
This book contains violence, gore, death, murder, and self-mutilation and termination.
These Violent Delights is a retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, set in 1926 Shanghai. It centers on Juliette Cai, heiress to the Scarlet Gang, and Roma Montagov, heir to the White Flowers. The Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers are the two gangs who run Shanghai and have been feuding for years. Then a monster calls and the two must team up or everyone dies.
These Violent Delights was one of my most anticipated releases for 2020. I am a sucker for all things Romeo and Juliet, and this one sounded especially exciting. Flappers in Shangai! Rival gangs! Contagion! Monsters! All great stuff! Sadly, it just did not work out for me.
I found These Violent Delights to be dragged out and boring. I was interested in the very beginning as we're being introduced to our characters and the plot. But then it felt like nothing was happening. It was the same scenes over and over as people rip their throats out, Juliette demands answers, laments about being betrayed four years ago, shoots some people, rinse, repeat. The middle could have been tighter to keep readers engaged and the plot moving along.
There's also next to no romance in These Violent Delights. The backbone of any good Romeo and Juliet retelling is the dramatic relationship between the two leads. We're told that Juliette and Roma had a short-lived but intense relationship when they were fifteen, which ended in tragedy. Roma betrayed her. She betrayed him. Now, they're older, reunited, and there's no spark at all. They're working together to find a cure for the madness and stop the monster spreading it, so there's definitely some high stakes and adrenaline and...nothing.
The plot of These Violent Delights was interesting though. People are succumbing to a madness that causes them to claw out their own throats, effective killing themselves. Is it drugs? Is it a disease? Is it contagious? This is the second plague by insects book I've read this month and find it fascinating and disturbing. However, I was not a fan of the literal monster spreading the insects. For me, it felt like too much. Creepy bugs are creepy enough.
For those of you who don't read epilogues, the epilogue is where it's at in These Violent Delights. The final battle happens and all seems like it's going back to normal, but then...nope! There's a surprise! I actually really enjoyed the epilogue, despite it ending on a huge cliffhanger. Is it enough to make me excited for the sequel? No. But it intrigued me enough that I might pick it up just to see what happens.
Woooow this book was brilliant! And bloody! I loved the 1920s Shanghai setting; I loved the politics, talk of foreigners, gangs, etc. Juliette was completely ruthless! The romance between her and Roma was angsty with a great slow build up (or build back up, because there's a history there). Definitely eager for more!
Are you a fan of Romeo and Juliet retellings? What about when it's retold with a fantasy twist? If so, you're going to want to check out Chloe Gong's These Violent Delights. It's the first in a series of the same name, and with a cover that stunning, you just know it's going to be good.
Set during the 1920s in Shanghai, two gangs are on the verge of (another) all-out war. This is the world that Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov have grown up in, so they're quite used to the pain, loss, and battles that come with a feud like theirs.
All of that is about to change, as a new and deadly monster appears to be killing its way through the streets. Scarlet Gang, White Flowers, it doesn't care who gets in the way. All it leaves behind is death and destruction.
Juliette and Roma must work together, and work past their betrayals and pain, in order to save their city and the people they've sworn to protect. The real question is, will it be enough?
“This was a city shrouded in blood. It was foolish to try changing it.”
These Violent Delights has got to be the most dynamic and creative retelling of Romeo and Juliet that I have ever seen. And I'm sincerely not exaggerating there. It was intense and brilliant, and brought with it countless surprises.
I think the thing I loved the most about These Violent Delights is how creative Chloe Gong's writing was. The wordplay surrounding their names, the altered history and locations, the monster, and horror elements. All of it. It actually made it difficult to predict what was going to happen next – which is quite a feat when you think about it.
Oh, and that time period! Moving Romeo and Juliet up to the 1920s! I adore it, especially as they infused flapper elements and events specific to the time period (and location). It added to much depth to the story that was unfolding.
“Anyone can be the master to a monster should their heart be wicked enough”
Let us not forget about the romance itself. That brought with it perhaps the most surprises, as Gong really did create something new between them. It was beautiful and heartbreaking all in one, as it should be. I won't say more than that, because I refuse to spoil it.
Overall, I was really impressed with the world-building and writing that Chloe Gong showcased here. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect when looking at a retelling that lasts more than one book, but I am so extremely happy that I took a risk and gave it a try. I have no regrets, and am very much looking forward to any and all sequels.
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