Book Review: ‘These Violent Delights’ by Chloe Gong

“In glittering Shanghai, a monster awakens . . .
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city in the grip of chaos. At its heart 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.” (Amazon)

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my e-copy of this book.

Review of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

My rating: 5/5

Chloe Gong’s debut is Romeo and Juliet retelling we all needed this year. These Violent Delights follows Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov, the heirs of two rival gangs in the 1920s Shanghai. 

The blood feud between the gangs – the Scarlets and the White Flowers – existed for generations, but the tensions have been heightened in recent years. Now, with Juliette’s return to Shanghai after living in the US – for her safety – for the last four years, things are getting even more complicated. Despite their families, Juliette and Roma used to be close, but now the betrayal and hate may be too much to move forward even when their city is at risk from something so violent, so unearthly, that the only way to save their people and survive, is working together.

What I loved the most about These Violent Delights, it’s the atmosphere of the place, but also the whole book itself. While Juliette and Roma’s story – star-crossed lovers from the opposite gangs – is not anything new, the execution of the story and the setting have been great, and added so much to this book. 

Juliette and Roma re-unite in order to eliminate a common threat, an illness that’s a lot like madness that seems spread in the city, both in the territory of the Scarlets and the White Flowers. But their complex relationship with each other as well as increasingly tense politics of Shanghai of the 1920s with many foreigners desiring to influence the country even further added even more interesting and complex layer to the whole narrative, and I have enjoyed it very much. I also really liked the depiction of supporting characters in These Violent Delights, they didn’t feel like they were only there to fulfil a secondary role – instead, they all have been interesting and so diverse characters, each with their story to tell. 

When I started reading Chloe Gang’s, for a moment I forgot it’s the beginning of the series, so when I reached the ending, I could only look at my Kindle and wonder where is more. I’m really looking forward to the next instalment and learning more about Juliette, Roma and all different characters from this series. I cannot recommend These Violent Delights enough.

Who is the book for: These Violent Delights is definitely a book for anyone enjoying good retellings (especially those of loving retellings of Rome and Juliet), but I think that Chloe Gong’s debut will enchant many more – I would recommend this great book to anyone enjoying atmospheric fantasy with interesting characters. You can get your copy here.

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