I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion!
What is it about?
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. (goodreads)
Book: These Violent Delights | Series: These Violent Delights #1 | Author: Chloe Gong | Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton | Release Date: 17.11.2020 | Pages: 464 | Genre: historical mystery/urban fantasy | Rep: Chinese, trans, gay, Korean | TW: blood, death, insects, loss of loved ones, gore, drugs
What did I think?
I haven’t read anything historical in ages because I always get annoyed. But the synopsis, the cover and yes, Chloe Gong herself on her socials just spoke to my soul and I knew I had to read it. And well, I have three words for you: I loved it. I loved it so much. From the very first page, I was sucked into the story and it spat me out at the end with a craving for more.
Let me tell you, I was nervous as hell about this book because it’s a Romeo & Juliet retelling and I guess we all know how well that ends? So I was constantly on the edge, both because of the things I knew and because of the mysteries the author added.
I absolutely adored the setting of 1920s Shanghai. Everything is torn in some way: the city and its people. The city has been divided in several parts where gangs and foreigners rule. It’s a violent place with many faces, a whole, yet broken into many parts that can’t really fit together. But it is alive, it breathes. The atmosphere transported so well, I could imagine everything vividly, the dark alleyways, the homes, the docks. It felt very real.
And so did the characters. The protagonists are Roma and Juliette, the heirs of two rivaling gangs. Juliette has just returned from years living in America and thus has to find back into Shanghai, a city she knows so well but that changes constantly. Along with her, it is easy for the reader to find into the setting and the story. Juliette is smart and stops at nothing to achieve her goals, she’s strong in both mind and body and knows her way around people. She tells parts of the story, Roma the rest. While he is just as violent as Juliette, he seemed a bit softer to me and I found myself liking him immediately. I liked them both a lot, as well as their companions and their familiarity. And the romance! I always love a good enemies to lovers romance and this was definitely no different.
This book really was what I needed. It was a great joy to read, it had fun parts and serious parts, it has some fantastical elements and wonderful characters, it is violent but has soft moments as well. It discusses serious topics and focuses a lot on colonialism and its consequences. If you can stomach blood and characters brandishing weapons every two pages, make sure to pick this book up. Seriously, it’s SO good!