TITLE: These Violent Delights
SERIES: These Violent Delights #1
AUTHOR: Chloe Gong
PAGE COUNT: 464 pages
PUBLISHER: Margaret K. McElderry Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 17 November 2020
GENRE: Fantasy, Historical Fiction & Young Adult
SYNOPSIS: 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.
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.
To be quite honest with you, I have been putting off writing this review ever since I finished the book. Have you ever enjoyed a book so much that you just do not have the words to describe it?
These Violent Delights was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, so it came as no surprise that it is now one of my favourite books of 2020. It was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish and the cliffhanger left me wanting to rip out my own throat.
The plot was incredibly well thought out, the writing was breathtaking, the politics brilliant and the characters felt so real. Everything was described so vividly that I could not help but see the different scenes play out in my mind.
I went into this book half blind, so it was not at all what I was expecting and I was constantly surprised by the different turns the author took. Chloe Gong is a phenomenal debut author who deserves all the praise her book is getting and I am very much excited to see what she has in store for us next.
Straight-faced, Juliette replied, “You know me. Running around. Living life. Committing arson.”
“…when you assume someone cannot speak English right off the bat, they tend to make fun of you.”
…she would do a damn good job of being who she was because she could be no one else.
“Misfortunes tend to come all at once.”
And he mourned for her. He didn’t wish to, but he did—he ached with the knowledge that the softness of their youth was gone forever, that the Juliette he remembered was long dead.
Monsters and things that walked the night were strong, but they were not powerful. There was a difference.
Roma wasn’t sure if Benedikt and Marshall were fated to eventually kill each other or kiss each other.
“These days, Juliette,” he said, low and warily, “the most dangerous people are the powerful white men who feel as if they have been slighted.”
Her feminine beauty was a concept as fleeting as power. If she acquired a tan, put on some weight, and let a few decades pass, the street artists would not be rendering her face to sell their creams anymore. Chinese and Western standards alike were arbitrary, pitiful things. But Juliette still needed to keep herself in line, force herself to follow them if people were to look up to her. Without her looks, this city would turn on her. It would claim that she didn’t deserve to be as competent as she was. The men, meanwhile, could be as tan, as fat, and as old as they wished. It would have no bearing on what people thought of them.
Was it loyalty that created power? Or was loyalty only a symptom, offered when the circumstances were favorable and taken away when the tides turned?
“Power is something achievable by few.” A shrug. “Anyone can be the master to a monster should their heart be wicked enough.”
She wished she could fill herself up like this. She wished she could press mounds of rich soil into the gaps of her heart, occupying the space until flowers could take root and grow roses.
It is never as simple as one truth. Nothing ever is.
The stars incline us, they do not bind us.
“…The feud keeps taking and hurting and killing and still I couldn’t stop loving you even when I thought I hated you.”
Chloe Gong is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, studying English and International Relations. During her breaks, she’s either at home in New Zealand or visiting her many relatives in Shanghai. Chloe has been known to mysteriously appear by chanting “Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays and doesn’t deserve its slander in pop culture” into a mirror three times. You can find her on Twitter @thechloegong, check out her website at thechloegong.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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