top of page

These Violent Delights

[A quick note: I got this edition in the December Owl Crate. I was highly anticipating this release. And isnโ€™t it pretty? Mine has sprayed edges, which sets it apart from the other Owl Crate editions. I think it turned out gorgeous!]

โ€œ๐™’๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™—๐™š๐™ฉ๐™ฌ๐™š๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™›๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™๐™ค๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฏ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ก ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™˜๐™–๐™ก? ๐™’๐™–๐™จ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™– ๐™œ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™–๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ก๐™ช๐™ข๐™—๐™š๐™ง๐™–๐™˜๐™ง๐™ค๐™จ๐™จ ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™– ๐™๐™ž๐™œ๐™, ๐™๐™ž๐™œ๐™ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ก๐™กโ€”๐™š๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™—๐™š ๐™จ๐™˜๐™–๐™ก๐™š๐™™ ๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ ๐™ž๐™˜๐™ ๐™š๐™™ ๐™™๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™ฃ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™—๐™ž๐™œ ๐™—๐™ก๐™ค๐™ฌ?โ€โ€”Chloe Gong

Shanghai, 1926, is the setting for this Romeo and Juliette retelling. The Scarlets and White Flowers have fought each other for generations. But when a madness sweeps through the city, and whispers of a monster become more than just rumors, Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai must put aside their blood feud and work together if thereโ€™s any hope of saving the city they love.

Romeo and Juliette? Shanghai in the Roaring 20s? Violent mobsters on two opposing sides? A blood feud? Whatโ€™s not to love...right? Except, this story just didnโ€™t do it for me. I really wanted to love it, but unfortunately it fell flat. The setting was excellent. Chloe Gong put an obvious amount of effort in portraying some very real issues with a deft hand, keeping true to historical events in China during the 1920s. Itโ€™s obvious she did a significant amount of research in writing this. So...what? I appreciated the themes. I enjoyed the history. But I really did not FEEL the emotion I look for in a compelling book. Almost like too much effort was put into world building and not enough into the characters and plot. Too much work into telling me how everything was and not showing me the story and letting me live it. Perhaps it was a lack of my relating to the characters? Or a lack of excitement in the plot? Too much telling and not enough showing? It just felt a bit hum-drum. Or maybe itโ€™s just ME? Thatโ€™s possible too. This just wasnโ€™t the book for me. But it was still a quick, entertaining read.

โ€œ๐™๐™๐™š ๐˜พ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š๐™จ๐™š ๐™๐™–๐™™ ๐™—๐™ช๐™ž๐™ก๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™ž๐™ฉ, ๐™œ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ค๐™™, ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ข๐™–๐™ฉ๐™˜๐™, ๐™—๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง๐™š๐™ž๐™œ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ง๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™๐™ค๐™๐™–๐™™ ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ข๐™š ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง๐™š๐™™ ๐™œ๐™–๐™จ๐™ค๐™ก๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™ช๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฎ ๐™จ๐™ช๐™ง๐™›๐™–๐™˜๐™š, ๐™ก๐™š๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™Ž๐™๐™–๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™๐™–๐™ž ๐™ง๐™–๐™œ๐™š ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ข๐™–๐™—๐™ก๐™š ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™›๐™ž๐™ง๐™š ๐™ค๐™› ๐™™๐™š๐™—๐™–๐™ช๐™˜๐™๐™š๐™ง๐™ฎ.โ€

I really appreciated Chloe Gongโ€™s attention to detail. She portrayed Shanghai in the 1920s, addressing some very real themes, such as other countries trying to infiltrate Shanghai and take both its culture and its land. Issues like communism are addressed too, as that was sweeping China at the time. The political climate was front and center. Even Juliette herself felt like a foreigner in her own home country. All of these things made for a very real setting and enhanced the story, blending with the fictional portion of the plot, that of a monster sweeping through Shanghai, inflicting madness on its people.

Juliette was a morally gray character. She killed when necessary. Especially if it meant protecting her family. While I liked her, I didnโ€™t love her. Same with Roma. The romance between the two of them was a lot of telling, because it was something that happened four years prior. It ended badly in betrayal, creating bad blood between Roma and Juliette. This story was their chance to work together and move forward, and perhaps rekindle what was lost. While I appreciate the attempt at failed-lovers-reconcile-and-get-back-together trope, I would have preferred a clear-cut execution of enemies-to-lovers trope instead. It would have been simpler and allowed the reader to be present for the FULL development of the romance, rather than merely being told about what they once shared in hindsight. There was enough blood feud between them that they could have started the book as enemies and progressed from there, getting to know each other so that the reader tagged along for the development. I just didnโ€™t see the need for a full romance arc between them to be in the past when it could have all happened in the present. I wanted to be there for that. Not be told about it later. So thatโ€™s probably my biggest gripe with the story.

Overall, I think a lot of people enjoyed this one, so I think it just wanโ€™t quite my taste. The ending definitely finished on a cliffhanger, and left some strings untied, and not necessarily in a satisfying way either. I donโ€™t know. Iโ€™m not so sure Iโ€™ll be bothering with the second book. I enjoyed this one, but only just. MY RATING: 3/5โญ๏ธ


bottom of page