Um, I’m a huge Shakespeare nerd. And a few years ago, my best friend whisked me away on an adventure to the magical city of Shanghai. So, These Violent Delights is right up my alley combining some of my favourite things, and you can bet I begged my ass off to receive a review copy. I’ve read it twice already and it’s not even out yet – that’s how much I love it.
Massive thanks to Kate Keehan and Hodder for sending me an ARC. As usual, all opinions are my own.
STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶
PUBLICATION DATE: 17/11/20
SUMMARY: 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. (from Hodder)
OPINIONS: This is so good. It is the most amazing debut novel and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Except maybe make it queerer, but a girl can’t have everything. It takes the best parts of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and turns them into its very own better version. The characters are nuanced and smart, flawed and growing, full of wishes and goals, striving towards their future.
The central romance between Juliette and Roma is slow burning and believable, hinging on the past and dealing with its fair share of issues, rather than falling into the tropes of insta-love that the original depends on. This is just one of the ways in which Chloe Gong has managed to improve on the Bard’s work. These Violent Delights is full of tension and feeling, not letting the reader catch their breath throughout the story. Its pacing is excellent, showing not only the author’s talent, but outstanding editing as well.
Additionally I loved the setting in colonial Shanghai. Recognising places from my own visit evoked a sense of nostalgia, while the book itself subtly addressed issues of colonialist ideology and landscape making the reader consider issues they might not have encountered before. These Violent Delights is many-layered and the reader discovers a new thread running through the story on each read.
I highly recommend These Violent Delights to anyone who has the slightest inclination towards YA and the various subgenres it addresses. Chloe Gong really is an author to watch and I can’t wait to keep reading her work. Add the book to your Goodreads here, and order a copy via Bookshop here! (I get a tiny commission from orders through the link, allowing me to keep up the site)