Featured Review: These Violent Delights (Chloe Gong)
About This Book:
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.
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.
*Review Contributed by Kim Baccellia, Staff Reviewer*
Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai is the heir to the powerful Shanghai gang the Scarlets. Their rivals are the Russian White Flowers. Her former lover Roma Montagov is behind a brutal betrayal that killed many of the Scarlets. Because of this, Juliette is sent away to America. Now she's back and wants vengence for the deaths his gang caused.
The blood feud between these two gangs runs deep. Then a violent illness hits the city. A sickness that kills not only the Scarlets, but the White Flowers as well. When Roma's younger sister falls victim, he reaches out to Juliette for a truce. But the betrayal is one that Juliette can't forgive. Or can she for the sake of her people's survival? Because if they don't come together, there will be no-one left in the city for either gang to rule.
What worked: Wow. Just wow. This is a powerful historical where two former lovers must work together to save the city they love. There's violence, betrayals, and deception throughout this gripping story. I was totally riveted from the first page.
Juliette is strong and does what she needs to in order to show she is the rightful heir to the Scarlet gang. This means more than once she uses whatever methods she has in order to show her strength. She has to do this as her cousin Tyler feels he's the rightful heir.
Roma is the more sensitive one in this story. Yes, he uses violence, but isn't so quick to use it. His trusted friends Marshal and his cousin Benedikt help him and also stay close to his side when a violent illness strikes.
The whole concept of 'supernatural' insects causing murderous chaos is intense and chilling. This magical realistic twist and what's behind it kept me glued to the pages. More than a few times I screamed out when Juliette and Roma got closer to the final reveal. And it's a powerful one!
There's great pacing and vivid descriptions of 1920s Shanghai where foreigners try to overrun the city. The tensions between the people are realistically shown and set behind the racism and sexism that not only happened then, but is relevent for today. There's also mention of the Communists and how they reach out to the poor in the city.
I admit, I didn't know who might in fact be behind the illness. There's a few red herrings and final reveal caught me off guard. I love when that happens!
Romeo and Juliet battle a violent illness in 1920 Shanghai. This story is complete with twists and turns and where romance between two warring gangs is put to the ultimate test.
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