Title : These Violent Delights
Author : Chloe Gong
Genre : YA fantasy, historical-fiction
Series : These Violent Delights #1
Release Date : November 17th, 2020
Publisher : Margaret K. McElderry Books
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.
These Violent Delights is definitely one of the most hyped books in my twitter timeline. Almost everyone I know who’ve read this book gave it 5 stars, which is why I’m a bit afraid diving into this one. I’m afraid that I set my expectations too high, thus I won’t enjoy it as much. Turns out, I shouldn’t have to worry, since These Violent Delights deserves every single star.
“Was the line between enemy and friend horizontal or vertical? Was it a great plain to lumber across or was it a high, high wall–either to be scaled or kicked down in one big blow?”
Set in 1920s, These Violent Delights follow two rival gang’s heirs–Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov–as they reluctantly work together to uncover the secrets behind the madness that’s wreaking havoc upon Shanghai. Easier said than done, for working close to each other means they have to confront the past that set them apart four years ago.
Eventhough These Violent Delights is loosely based on Romeo & Juliet, doesn’t mean that the story is predictable in any way. Chloe Gong does incorporated themes and characters from the original tale–including famous scenes like the dancing scene and the balcony scene–into the book, but These Violent Delights is a story that stood by itself. It blends fiction and reality, from gangster that roamed the street and the political unrest that happens in Shanghai at that time, to the monster that appear out of nowhere and shook Shanghai to its core. The whole time I was reading it, I felt like I really was transported back in time.
“The lover and the liar, the liar and the lover. They switched those roles between themselves like it was a game.”
The romance in this book complete the already interesting and engaging plot. I have to admit that I’m not a fan of the romance in the original tale. Personally, I think it was amusing at best. By making Roma and Juliette as former lovers, though, it made me love the book more. Trapped somewhere between enemies and lovers, we get to see Juliette and Roma struggle with their feelings to each other and their loyalty to their respective gangs. I had not realized it back then, but now I’m 100% sure that enemies-to-lovers-to-enemies is the superior romantic trope. I also love the friendships that were portrayed in this book. They are all unique and interesting in their own way.
All in all, These Violent Delights has the perfect mix of love, family, and betrayal. In addition to that, Chloe’s writing is absolutely gorgeous, that I’m honestly tempted to highlight like half of the book. If you’re looking for a book that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion, this one’s for you.
*I receive an ARC in exchange of honest review through the publisher. Thank you Simon & Schuster for the book!