These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
“The stars incline us, they do not bind us.”
It took me two months to finish this book, but I finally did it and actually liked it
I received this e-book from NetGalley. This does not affect my review or opinion. All thoughts are my own, and I’m being 100 percent honest. Thank you to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for providing me this book for reviewing purposes.
I have mixed feelings about this book. It took me two whole damn months to read These Violent Delights. The first half of the book was really slow, and I just couldn’t concentrate on the story. But the second half was amazing. So good. So fun. So fast-paced. I loved the tension between Juliette and Roma and I loved the friendships. I do have to say I wasn’t a fan of the villain of this story, but I’m excited for the second book in this series.
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.
The cover though. It’s gorgeous! I love everything about it. It’s quite simple, not too busy but oh so pretty. The layout of the book is gorgeous as well.
So I did like the plot but wasn’t a fan of the villain of the story. I do love a good retelling especially a Romeo and Juliet one and this one was really good. The villain in These Violent Delights (aside from the rivaling gangs who are also villains) is a monster. I don’t think this was necessary for this story, but I didn’t hate it either. I did like the explanations Gong gave to certain things. She made sure to explain why this monster could do certain things instead of just saying ‘it can do that because it is a monster’. I hope you understand what I’m trying to say haha. There was always a ‘scientific’ explanation, which I liked a lot.
These characters, oh my god!!!! I loved every single one of them. Juliette and Roma are so cute, and I absolutely loved their chemistry. I did also really enjoy these ‘side’ characters. Marshall being probably my favourite. They were all unique and well-written. I did have a hard time understanding what happened with Rosalind and Kathleen. This aspect was a bit confusing, and I’m still not sure I understand completely. I don’t want to spoil anything but be sure to keep your attention on the book when getting to that passage.
I do wish this would’ve been a standalone, but I’m not mad I’ll have more Kathleen, Benedikt, Marshall, Juliette and Roma content!
The only thing I had a hard time with, was the pacing of the first half of the book. It took me a while to finish These Violent Delights (2 months) and it might be my fault. But I literally read the second half of the book in one day. So if you’re planning on reading it and aren’t really feeling it, the second half is so much better and definitely worth pushing through.
Gong’s writing style is vivid and immersive. It felt like I knew all of these characters and I knew the city. For a debut, These Violent Delights was pretty good.
Do I recommend it?
Yes, I do. These characters are everything. You’ll love them.
Explicit sex scenes, lying, cheating
Representation in this book
Asian main character, gay side character, transgender side character
Hodder & Stoughton
November 10th, 2020
About the author
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 email@example.com.
Do you Romeo and Juliet retellings? Let me know in the comments!