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.
Check out more reviews over a Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks
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