These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1), by Chloe Gong
Published by Hodder & Stoughton (November 17th, 2020)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Romance
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.
i cannot believe i have survived this book, yet here we are. These Violent Delights is a heart-wrenching YA historical fantasy that tore my heart to pieces, yet left me wanting (and needing) more.
set in 1920s shanghai, the story is about two rival gangs, The Scarlet Gang and The White Flowers and their respective heirs, Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov, as they try to uncover the secrets behind the uncommon deaths among the citizens of their city. in order to do so, the two heirs must leave their blood feud -and history- aside. i found the premise to be very intriguing, and from the first page, the author sets you right in the mood for the book, with a gorgeous poetic writing and a beautiful use of words.
not only that, but i was also left speechless because of the way the author builds up to the climax of the story. i must admit, the book took quite some time to get into, and i did find the first 40% to be quite repetitive. for example, we are constantly reminded that juliette has power amongst the scarlet gang. i also found some of the scenes a little useless to the overall story. however, once the action part of the story starts, i was unable to stop reading. i realized later on that the author set a very steady base for the story, because i wasn’t lost and didn’t need to come back to previous parts of the book to remember some information.
the story also takes the time to speak loudly of political issues, such as the impact of colonization and imperialism, along with racism, which i had a great time reading about and comparing them to today’s world (i did not find much difference, and i didn’t know what to think of that).
and the ending was just heart-breaking. chloe gong slowly patched the broken pieces of my heart, only for her to stab me (metaphorically) in the end, with characters so well-crafted i could almost believe they are real. our two main characters, juliette and roma, are complicated and have many layers to them, which made them more than just characters on paper to me.
i honestly feel like These Violent Delights is the next Big Thing in YA. i am almost sure of it. and it deserves it. through the pages, i could feel the time it took the author to craft this story, the effort and the dedication. this story isn’t one i would stop thinking about soon, and is one you should keep on your radar, because it will break records.