Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong



 
THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS


The cover caught my eye on today's book. And the blurb. Why? It's a Romeo and Juliet retelling!!!
And not just any retelling. Think 1920's in Shanghai, where gangs and violence ruled as much as the nightlife. Juliet is the heiress to one of the gangs, and she's not the soft girl Shakespeare once showcased. This Juliet carries bite...
Oh, but don't think this one is for pure romance fans, either. The entire book carries bite, but read on to find out just how much.


THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS
These Violent Delights, Book One
by Chloe Gong
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Young Adult Historical / Fantasy
449 pages







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.



BOOK BLINK

                                                          * beautifully set in Shanghai during the 1920's
                                                          * Romeo and Juliet retelling
                                                          * romance not main plot
                                                          * gory and blood-thirsty
                                                          * intriguing look at colonialism


MY TIDBITS
 
While falling along the rim of a Romeo and Juliet retelling, this dive into Shanghai during the 1920's allows for so much more than an intriguing tale.

Juliette has spent the last four years studying in the U.S. and returns to take her place as future heir to the Scarlet Gang, who rules Shanghai and is at constant odds with a Russian gang, White Flowers. While she's no stranger to the ruthlessness involved, she's soon faced with more than the already difficult task of gaining respect. Add an ended but once intense relationship with a potential heir to the White Flower gang, and she's got her hands full. But things aren't done there. She needs to fight to keep her status in a very violent and unforgiving world...and that as a monster has crept up into Shanghai and started to kill people with random reason. But monsters aren't Juliette's greatest concern.

The writing in this book is very well done. It is beautifully worded...and sometimes, with a touch of structure which almost reminds that Juliette doesn't have English as her own mother tongue. She's from Shanghai, through and through, but broader and more world-minded thanks to her studies abroad. And she's tough. She knows what being the heir to the gang means, and she has no qualms about taking on this role. So, yes, it's a violent book, and she's not a gentle woman. And yet, she's hard not to like. 
Roma, on the other hand, is the softer of the two. 

The parallels to the original tale are clear, but there is definitely enough originality to this retelling to keep it more than interesting. Juliette and Roma might have a true-love romance...if the bloodshed, family politics, territory wars, and monsters would allow a sweet romance to occur. But then again, Juliette isn't a sweet romance kind a girl. There's simply too much gore in this book to every qualify as sweet.

The world building is very well done, and this was probably my favorite aspect of the book. It's rich enough to make every scene vivid and draws in enough history to make it feel realistic to the time. I especially appreciated the building up around colonialism...not just for setting purposes, but the author incorporates many of the feelings involved. The mix of various backgrounds and fights to find foothold...or keep foreigners from gaining too much...creates an intriguing historical glimpse alongside the main plot. 

It's an interesting read and not just for Romeo and Juliet fans (which....if I'm allowed to admit it...I'm definitely not) Still, I enjoyed this read quite a bit.

















1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great review. This book really appeals to me because of the Shanghai setting.

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