Series: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Books: These Violent Delights | Our Violent Ends
Release Date: 2020/2021
Tags: Young Adult | Romeo and Juliet Retelling | Classic Retelling | Historical Fantasy | Science-Fiction | Shanghai | 1926 | Romance | Monsters | Insects
Trigger/Content Warnings: Death | Microagressions | Racism | Parental Abuse | Self-Harm | Suicide | Violence | Grief | Gore
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 These Violent Delight duology has been very hyped up in the last 2-3 years. As a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in a historical Shanghai it stands out from many other books. And while I did enjoy that premise for the most part I did not end up loving this duology as much as others. That lies mostly with the second book as well.
The original Romeo and Juliet was never of much interest to me. I do however enjoy seeing how others reimagine this tale with fantasy and different settings. And that is what the author does in this book. The setting of Shanghai consumed by two gangs, communists, nationalists, French and the British gives a very intriguing back story to what is happening in the book.
We start the love story between Juliette and Roma in the middle. They had their teenage romance but when betrayal entered the game Juliette left the scene. Years later she returns to take up her position as heir to the scarlet gang. Roma in the mean time has been fighting for his position as heir of the White Flowers. When a monster enters the stage to shake already tense relationships up, they have to work together to keep the status quo.
I enjoyed their romance and getting near one another again. And I liked how the ‘fake death’ was used the first time around. However I felt that the start of the second book rehashed a lot of the first book and it got a little boring to see the miscommunication happening again.
Speaking of miscommunication, in book 2 there is plenty of that between Juliette, Rosalind and Kathleen. I mean if Kathleen had told that one bit of information I think things would have been discovered so much quicker and we could have done without that big drawn out volume that was These Violent Ends.
There was also the matter of the monster. I would hesitate to call this fantasy. Not only is the element not that big but it seems to have more basis in science, making it more of a science-fiction to me. The origin of the monster and the insects plus what Lourens was actually doing, was easily glossed over though and didn’t feel quite so fitting with the setting of this book.
Having said that, it was certainly an enjoyable read. Especially if you love big epic romances this will be a great read for you.
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