Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking those links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1) by Chloe Gong
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on November 17, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Historical, Fantasy, Romance
Format: eBook (463 pages)
Purchase: Amazon • IndieBound
Add Book: Goodreads • Bookhype
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.
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 Shanghai! 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.
Quotes from These Violent Delights:
They were laughing kids who had found a confidant, a friend who understood the need to be someone else if only for a while each day. They fell in love. (page 89)
There was so much luck to be had in the genetic lottery; one different code and it was a whole lifetime of forced adaptation. (page 242)
Even the land of dreams needs to wake up sometimes (page 392)