These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong | book review

This review is spoiler-free!

“She…hoped. And hope was dangerous. Hope was the most vicious evil of them all, the thing that had managed to thrive in Pandora’s box among misery, and disease, and sadness—and what could endure alongside others with such teeth if it didn’t have ghastly claws of its own?”

– Chloe Gong, These Violent Delights

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
(These Violent Delights, #1)

Published: November 17, 2020
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Category: YA
Genre: historical, fantasy, retelling, romance
Pages: 463
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 stars)
Goodreads page

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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.

[ This synopsis was taken directly from Goodreads. ]

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👏 This 👏 is how 👏 you do 👏 a Shakespeare 👏 retelling 👏

As much as I love a good ole retelling, I find that they can be a bit unexciting. It’s easy to predict what happens next in the story because it follows a familiar plot to a well-known tale. What I like about These Violent Delights is that it’s both a Romeo & Juliet retelling and its own story. It definitely has the whole “a boy and girl from two enemy families fall in love when they shouldn’t have” element and the whole “Shakespeare drama” going on. It also has a mysterious monster madness, a little bit of spy work, politics, social commentary, and a lot of action and violence. I honestly wouldn’t think this was a Romeo & Juliet retelling if it weren’t for the characters’ names: Roma and Juliette.

Chloe Gong’s writing is skillful and thoughtful. She makes you feel like the relationship between Roma and Juliette is impossible, yet despite the deep animosity between the White Flowers and the Scarlet Gang, you can’t help but root for them anyways. She also subtly incorporates the every-day microaggressions and racism that Asian people face within her story, and it was so nice to see that represented in a story. The YA genre has slowly but surely been having conversation about social issues, but it’s seen less in fantasy than in contemporary novels.

Personally, I found that the side characters like Juliette’s friends (Kathleen & Rosalind) and Roma’s friends (Marshall & Benedikt) were a little more interesting than the main protagonists themselves. That’s not to say that Roma and Juliette aren’t well-written characters. It’s just that there was more mystery when it comes to the others. You could connect the dots pretty easily to Roma and Juliette’s past history, but there was a less said about the friends. I hope that we get to learn more about them in the sequel!

Overall, These Violent Delights might be one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. If you like fast-paced, action-packed, violent, thrilling Shakespeare retellings, this book is for you. It is seriously well-written, and I can’t recommend it enough!

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I give These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong 4.5 stars!

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Do you like retellings? If so, what are some of your favorites?
If you could trade places with one of the characters in TVD, who would it be and why?

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Stay awkward and amazing!

10 thoughts on “These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong | book review

    • Jessica 05/19/2021 / 11:33 am

      It’s such a great book, and I hope you enjoy it if you decide to pick it up! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jessica 05/19/2021 / 11:35 am

      Yay! I’m glad I convinced someone to pick it up, because it’s definitely worth a read!


    • Jessica 05/19/2021 / 11:46 am

      I hope you enjoy TVD! It’s seriously a fantastic story ❤


  1. Jan @ thedoodlecrafter 05/18/2021 / 8:50 pm

    Great review!!! I loved it too, and I’m glad you enjoyed this!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jessica 05/19/2021 / 12:03 pm

      Yay! I’m glad you loved this book too! Super excited for the sequel (that ending kind of killed me) XD

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jessica 05/19/2021 / 12:25 pm

      Yes! I can’t wait for the next book! 😀


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