These Violent Delights - book cover
Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Publisher : Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Published : 17 Nov 2020
  • Pages : 464
  • ISBN-10 : 1534457690
  • ISBN-13 : 9781534457690
  • Language : English

These Violent Delights

An Instant New York Times Bestseller!
A BuzzFeed Best Young Adult Book of 2020

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Serpent & Dove, 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.

Editorial Reviews

"The Bard would surely approve." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A deliciously dark twist on Romeo and Juliet that feels vibrant, modern, and wholly exciting. Gong's writing brims with energy. I was swept away to her dark Shanghai from the first page and never wanted to leave!"

  -- Natasha Ngan, New York Times bestselling author of Girls of Paper and Fire

"Chloe Gong's These Violent Delights cuts to the heart of twentieth-century China with its scalpel-sharp prose and steel-spirited protagonists. Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov shine brighter than the glitz and glamour of historical Shanghai; sparks fly when they clash in this action-packed story set amidst a backdrop of blood feuds, gang wars, and political upheaval." -- Amelie Wen Zhao, author of Blood Heir

"Chloe Gong's These Violent Delights plants a Shakespearean classic in the rich soil of 1920s Shanghai, allowing her characters to grow, flourish, and steal your heart while warring against their own." -- Joan He, author of Descendant of the Crane

"Heady, smart, and vicious, These Violent Delights strikes every note with precision, layering romance and politics into a roaring 20s Shanghai of both monsters and monstrous imperialism." -- Tessa Gratton, author of The Queens of Innis Lear

"Full of glitter, suspense and gore, These Violent Delights takes readers into the perilous world of 1926 Shanghai. With the body count rising, and a monster lurking in the Huangpu River, Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov must put aside their differences and work together to save their city. Chloe Gong's debut is a terrific, deliciously unputdownable read!" -- June Hur, author of The Silence of Bones

A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evid...

Readers Top Reviews

Kristel Greer
This is a brilliant retelling of Romeo and Juliette set in Shanghai in 1926. Roma Montagov, heir to a Russian mafia family, the White Flowers and Juliette Cai, daughter to the head of the Chinese drug cartel, the Scarlets. Roma and Juliette met young, fell in love but were cruelly separately by Roma's betrayal which led to deaths on both sides. Juliette leaves Shanghai to live the high life in New York while Roma remains behind. Juliette returns and tensions between the rival families are at an all-time high. However, a new threat arises with dire consequences for both the White Flowers and Scarlet gangs. A mysterious affliction is sweeping through their members and making them claw their throats out in a sudden onset of madness. Roma and Juliette must set aside their animosity and distrust and work together to find a solution. Their investigation uncovers a powerful supernatural foe at the heart of the contagion. As the deaths pile up, tension rises between the ex-lovers which force them to confront their unresolved feelings and the trauma of their pasts. Will they find the solution before it's too late and can move past their differences to rekindle their love? This was a ????? read for me as I loved the attention to detail given to the backstory and world-building at the start which set the stage for a gripping and addictive plot. The fresh take on the Shakespearean story was incredibly creative and I found that both the main characters as well as the supporting roles were beautifully written with complex backgrounds, motivations and diverse personalities. The sexual tension jumped off the page and the visceral love story between Roma and Juliette was both riveting and emotional to read. I loved the Shanghai backdrop with its rich Chinese customs and cultural references as well as the historical elements of the rise of communism and the interference of foreign powers of that time which were incorporated into the plot. This added more depth and realism to the story.
I was kindly gifted a copy of this ebook by Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So thank you so so much! When I initially heard about These Violent Delights, all I knew was that it was a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in a 1920’s Shanghai. For me that was enough to get excited and immediately pre-order. I have always been a huge fan of the forbidden romance/enemies to romance tropes, so Romeo and Juliet was always up my street. I didn’t know much more about this one until I received the ARC, so I was extremely pleased to find that not only was it an R&J retelling but also containing a murder mystery, monsters, and gangsters. The thing that really captured me was the writing style. I was immediately drawn in to the 1920’s Shanghai and politics surrounding the story itself. I found it informative without even realising, with the rich descriptions I felt as if I were there myself at times. In regards to the story I really enjoyed it, it dived right into the action and was easy to follow, there was little hidden in regards to the gory deaths and that made it all the more exciting. Although we immediately knew the cause of these deaths it was still surrounded in mystery and remained that way until the very last page, being 464 pages (according to Goodreads) the expectation would be that we would get an early reveal or after some time it would become a little predictable or even dare I say it a bit boring. But I was still as hooked as I was when I first started. The one thing I love about the mystery's is trying to predict the killer, but I had no chance with this one. Characters were introduced so intricately that you didn’t question their motives until everything became clear at the end. Throughout the book various plot holes arise, mentions of the past we do not know about but so desperately want to, they are revealed neatly at the end in a way which fits the story, rather than simply info dumping. I loved the ending, it was suspenseful, everything came to together and set up book 2 perfectly. My only issue is that by reading this ARC I now have even longer to wait for the sequel! I liked being able to recognise the characters from the play, being such a big family on both sides I found it easier to keep track of each one and their relevance to the plot. I felt we saw more of the Cai’s rather than the Montagov’s, so although I feel I have a pretty good idea of Juliette’s family with Roma I still feel a little unsure. But I am hoping this is something that can be looked into more in the sequel. However I do have to say that this replicates their relations to their family perfectly. We become immediately aware that although both are in line to take over from their family only one is more comfortable doing so. Only Juliette was trying to fit into the role which...
In this marvelous, ambitious reimagining of Romeo and Juliet, talented wordsmith Chloe Gong takes readers on a sweeping, sublime journey, where something sinister lurks just below the surface of the glitz, the glamour, and intrigue of 1920's Shanghai. Set in this dazzling "Paris of the East," the story begins with our main leads, Juliette Cai, the daughter of Chinese gangster royalty, and Roma Montagov, the son of Russian émigrés who fled during the Bolshevik Revolution, who remain at the epicenter of an ongoing blood feud between their respective families, the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers. While the Cais have typically ruled Shanghai with an iron fist for generations, the Montagovs, with their gradual but steady climb to power, threaten to usurp the Cais' longtime stranglehold over the city. As this feud begins to rack up a higher body count in the streets day-by-day, the underworld faces its own threat against other emerging power players, such as the Foreign Concessions, the Communists, and the Kuomintang, with all these separate factions jockeying for control over Shanghai. From page one, I was immediately hooked with Gong's exquisite, spectacular prose, her cast of unforgettable characters, jaw-dropping plot twists, and an wholly immersive, beautifully-rendered world of 1920's Shanghai, which was intricately, wonderfully bought to life. The sizzling, slow-burn romance between Juliette and Roma, while they grapple against past mistakes, missed opportunities, and blazing hopes that could very well lead to a secure future or complete ruin, is sure to delight readers - since one can't help but root for them as these rival heirs attempt to defy their starcrossed fate. Though, Juliette and Roma are also supported by an equally standout, secondary cast of characters including: intense but sensitive Benedikt Montagov, hilarious, devil-without-a care, #sinammon roll Marshall Seo, and viciously loyal Kathleen Lang. I for one, am certainly looking forward to the next installment of THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS, as Gong is simply an extraordinary YA talent to keep in mind, with this stunning, historical fantasy debut.
I dont usually write book reviews because I feel books are so subjective. What one person loves another might not. But this is one I felt I had to review. The premise is fantastic. Romeo and Juliette in a gangster filled Shanghai in the 20s with a water monster? Sign up me. The problem? It takes about 100 pages to really pull you in. Its written from multiple points of view at times but they all could be written from the same character. The author does a lot of telling and not enough SHOWING. For a lot of sentences I found myself mentally rewriting them to how they would have flowed better. That being said, in the end I did enjoy the book and I will be reading the sequel. The author is I believe only 22, I dont think she has truly found her voice yet, and she has all the makings to have her future work be FANTASTIC with just a little tweaking.

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter One One

In the heart of Scarlet Gang territory, a burlesque club was the place to be.

The calendar was rolling closer and closer to the end of the season, the pages of each date ripping free and blowing away quicker than the browning tree leaves. Time was both hurried and unhurried at once, the days becoming scarce yet dragging on for far too long. Workers were always hurrying somewhere, never mind whether they truly had a destination to pursue. There was always a whistle blowing in the background; there was always the constant chugging noise of trams dragging themselves along the worn tracks grooved into the streets; there was always the stench of resentment stinking up the neighborhoods and burrowing deep into the laundry that waved with the wind, like shop banners outside cramped apartment windows.

Today was an exception.

The clock had paused on the Mid-Autumn Festival-the twenty-second of the month, according to Western methods of day-keeping this year. Once, it was customary to light lanterns and whisper tales of tragedy, to worship what the ancestors revered with moonlight cupped in their palms. Now it was a new age-one that thought itself above its ancestors. Regardless of which territory they stood upon, the people of Shanghai had been bustling about with the spirit of modern celebration since sunrise, and at present, with the bells ringing nine times for the hour, the festivities were only getting started.

Juliette Cai was surveying the club, her eyes searching for the first signs of trouble. It was dimly lit despite the abundance of twinkling chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, the atmosphere dark and murky and wet. There was also a strange, sodden smell wafting under Juliette's nose in waves, but the poor renovations seemed not to bother the mood of those seated at various round tables scattered throughout the club. The people here would hardly take notice of a small leak in the corner when constant activity consumed their attention instead. Couples were whispering over decks of tarot cards, men were shaking one another with vigor, women were inclining their heads to gasp and shriek in recollection of whatever story was being told over the flickering gaslight.

"You look rather woeful."

Juliette didn't immediately turn in haste to identify the voice. She didn't have to. There were very few people who would approach her speaking English to begin with, never mind English with the flat tones of a Chinese mother tongue and the accent of a French upbringing.

"I am. I am perpetually filled with woe." Only then did she crane her head, her lips curling up and her eyes narrowing at her cousin. "Aren't you supposed to be onstage next?"

Rosalind Lang shrugged and crossed her arms, the jade bangles on her slender brown wrists clinking together.

"They cannot begin the show without me," Rosalind scoffed, "so I am not worried."

Juliette scanned the crowd again, this time with a target in mind. She found Kathleen, Rosalind's fraternal twin, near a table at the back of the club. Her other cousin was patiently balancing a tray full of plates, staring at a British merchant while he tried to order a drink with exaggerated gesticulations. Rosalind was under contract here to dance; Kathleen showed up to wait tables when she got bored, and took a measly wage for the fun of it.

Sighing, Juliette dug out a lighter to keep her hands occupied, releasing the flame, then quenching it to the rhythm of the music gliding around the room. She waved the small silver rectangle under her cousin's nose. "Want?"

Rosalind responded by pulling out a cigarette tucked within the folds of her clothing.

"You don't even smoke," she said as Juliette angled the lighter down. "Why do you carry that thing around?"

Straight-faced, Juliette replied, "You know me. Running around. Living life. Committing arson."

Rosalind inhaled her first puff of smoke, then rolled her eyes. "Right."

A better mystery would have been where Juliette even kept the lighter. Most girls in the burlesque club-dancer or patron alike-were dressed as Rosalind was: in the fashionable qipao sweeping through Shanghai like a wildfire. With the outrageous slit down the side revealing ankle to thigh and the high collar acting like a choke hold, the design was a blend of Western flamboyance with Eastern roots, and in a city of divided worlds, the women were walking metaphors. But Juliette-Juliette had been transformed through and through, the little beads of her pocketle...