These Violent Delights | Book Review
These Violent Delights was one of those books that I kept seeing online and couldn't stop thinking about. So I finally read it and I must say, I'm so happy I did.
This is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920's Shanghai, where two rival gangs, the Scarlets and the White Flowers, have a generations-old blood feud. At the centre of it all is Juliette Cai, the heir to the Scarlet gang, and Roma Montagov, the White Flowers' heir and Juliette's first love. But when the citizens of Shanghai start tearing out their own throats and whispering about a monster roaming through the city, Roma and Juliette must put their old feud aside and work together in order to save the city they're meant to rule.
I had such a great time reading this book and I honestly could not stop thinking about it. But what I loved the most about this was definitely Chloe Gong's writing. I'd catch myself re-reading sentences purely for how they'd been so beautifully crafted. Her word choices, how she managed to breathe life into Shanghai and make the city feel like a separate character. It made me immerse myself into this story and truly feel like I was a part of it. Everything was so real in my head, I couldn't help but hope for an adaptation in the future.
I also adored the characters. Juliette was resilient and badass, and I loved seeing her carve a place for herself where everyone expected her to fail. Similarly with Roma, who's a good person forced to do bad things in order to own his place as heir. But the side characters were also incredibly interesting and I hope we get to see even more from them in the sequel.
The enemies to lovers romance is probably my favourite one I've ever read because the hate feels warranted, and so does the longing. One of my pet peeves in books is when the characters hate each other for no real reason or start loving one another out of nowhere. But this enemies-to-friends-to-lovers-to-enemies-to-reluctant allies-to-lovers was done so beautifully and was so detailed, I could feel every emotion Juliette and Roma felt.
The only bit of this book I didn't really enjoy was the madness storyline, simply because it fell a bit flat after a while. Even though it was the main conflict of the story, the politics and the romance were much more exciting to me. We follow Shanghai as the communists are campaigning and the foreigners think they're the ones who should rule the city, and I loved to see how the gang leaders dealt with this situation. The plotting, the scheming, everything was really exciting to me, whereas the disease felt a bit repetitive after a while.
Overall, I adored this book and will read everything Chloe Gong writes because that's what truly made this book shine. Combine that with the romance, the politics, and the morally grey characters, this story was incredibly entertaining and I couldn't put it down.
Content warnings for this book include gun violence, gore, violence, murder, body horror, illness, medical content, death, torture, racism, xenophobia, colonialism, transphobia, deadnaming, misogyny, emotional and physical abuse.