It’s been literally so long since I last posted a review. Well that’s because it’s also literally been so long since I finished a book… Reading is truly a struggle sometimes.
Anyway, when I got approved for an e-arc of These Violent Delights via NetGalley I nearly screamed. I totally did not expect to be approved at all! This debut novel by Chloe Gong is set to release on November 17 of this year.
I’ve heard very good things about this book before I dove in, and I am just here to add to the abundance of positive reviews!
These Violent Delights
By Chloe GongPublished 17 November 2020 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
retelling | romance | mystery
My rating: ★★★★☆
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.
What I Liked
First of all I love the setting of the book. I never thought I’d read a Romeo and Juliet retelling in 1920s Shanghai, but here we are. I could really tell while reading that Chloe Gong put an amazing amount of love and dedication into describing the city and its inner workings. Normally when I read, I can see the scenes play out in my head, and the sharper the image, the better the writing. In this case, I can still recall scenes in my head as if I was literally there.
Right from the bat I loved the characters, too. I want to protect all of them. The story is told from multiple perspectives, and I never had the sense that one character’s chapter was more boring than the other. I liked reading about all of them! Especially Roma, because to me he was the most interesting character. He always seemed like he had secrets upon secrets, and I wanted to know everything. I really enjoyed Juliet’s character, too. One of my favorite things about this book is that sometimes you forget it’s a Romeo and Juliet retelling, but then you come across a scene that is just incredibly familiar, and you are reminded which story this book is based on. I’m not going to say which scenes those are obviously, but you’ll know when you come across them!
One of my other favorite things about this book is the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) criticism of the foreigners in the story. Especially when it comes to language. Even I have had the “wow you’re so articulate!” thrown at me. Like yes, I’ve had an education, thank you. I’ll never forget that one time I almost risked my job because one of my customers dared to say my academic writing skills were probably severely lacking because English is not my native language. Anyway, all that to say that these criticisms are very valid, and I liked coming across them in this book.
What I Liked Less
A four star book for me is a book that I truly enjoyed. So I don’t have that many negative points to make. I just thought the beginning was a little slow. In my opinion, it took a little while for the plot to really get going, and I think that made me read the book less fast than I normally would. However, once it started truly picking up the pace, I couldn’t put it down!
In all, these Violent Delights is an excellent combination of romance, rivalry, and “whodunnit,” and I definitely implore you all to read it before the year ends if you can!