These Violent Delights

These Violent Delights 

by Chloe Gong 

3 out of 5 


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.

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. 


Juliette and Roma are the heirs of opposing Shanghai gangs. When a monster attacks their city, they have to put aside their history and work together.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Set in 1920's Shanghai, this story follows Juliette Cai, the heir apparent in the Scarlet Gang.

After 4 years in America, she has returned to support her father and establish her place in the gang.

As a woman, she has to struggle to get respect within her gang; and has to deal with the foreigners that are encroaching on her city.

Roma Montagov was the heir of the White Flowers, until he lost his father's favour. Roma has to earn back the respect of his family and gang, which is made all the harder when Juliette comes back into his life.

When a new enemy is operating in the shadows, killing innocent people with a madness that seems contagious; Juliette and Roma begrudgingly work together.

I really liked the setting, the city of Shanghai is as big a part of this story as any character.

It's at an important time in history, with many opposing factors taking the city further away from its traditional roots. 

Westerners have brought their culture and technology, claiming parts of the city - so much that there are even parts where chinese are not allowed to go.

The Nationalists and Communists are drumming up support, and inflaming the growing unrest in their citizens.

The world is changing faster than ever.

Juliette and her cousins paint how life is for Chinese girls and how it is to be trans.

Juliette's time in America wasn't all great. After being Shanghai's princess, she had to learn how to be a person of colour in an intolerant country.

After being too Chinese for America, she returns home to be the "American girl".

The not-so-good.

I was underwhelmed by the "romance" between Juliette and Roma.

They had a brief but passionate relationship four years ago, when they were young. Now, they try and be indifferent, and it's very believable. I never felt that they were falling back into love, and despite being told repeatedly that they were infatuated, it never felt real.

I felt that everything was thrown into this story, without any one thing being fully embraced or realised.

We have gangsters, family fueds, foreigners, monsters, Communists, Nationalists, and a loose Romeo & Juliet retelling.

So many threads are picked up, gained my interest, only to fade into nothing.

I realise that this is the first book in the series, and it should be building the foundation, but I was just left wanting - in a bad way.

Overall, I like the world that has been created, and I am intrigued to see where the story goes next.




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