✨Age Range: Young adult
✨Series: 1st in a duology
✨Publication Date: 17th November, 2020
✨Publisher: Simon & Schuster (US), Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
✨Format I Read: Kindle e-book
✨Content Warning: Violence, gore, death, substance use, insects, pandemic and parental abuse
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.
Characters and Representation in These Violent Delights
Juliette and Roma are the two main points of view we get in this book and the reference here is obvious. I’m partial to Juliette myself because of her headstrong and decisive nature. She is one of those strong female leads that actually back that description up with words and action.
Roma, on the other hand, is the calmer, level-headed one and despite the act he puts on, he’s very caring and gentle underneath. He also had his fair share of personal difficulties going on and I’m very invested in his side of the story too. The tension of the unresolved conflict in the past between them is palpable in every interaction, which adds spice to the romance aspect.
Coming to the side characters, the cast is effortlessly diverse and they are wonderfully fleshed out. My favourites are Alisa, Roma’s sister, Kathleen, Juliette’s pacifist cousin and Marshall, who is Roma’s steadfast friend. The antagonists also have clear motivations and opposing goals, which made me root harder for the protagonists.
Plot and World-Building in These Violent Delights
This is the only part of the book that didn’t quite live up to my expectations. While the plot is solid and there are multiple threads that take the story in interesting directions, it didn’t add up to a cohesive whole. The whole madness situation felt a touch too unrealistic and convenient in terms of plot to me.
There is also a mystery at the heart of the story that is the backbone of the main plot. However, I could easily guess the big reveal, so the plot twists didn’t shock me. That took away from the enjoyment of the book a bit for me.
However, coming to the world-building aspect, it took my breath away with how the setting is brought to life. The sights, smells and bustle of 1920s Shanghai is vividly captured in the pages of this book. It also strengthens the themes being explored here by giving the reader a good idea of the power structures that controlled Shanghai back then.
Writing Style and Themes in These Violent Delights
I’m in awe of Chloe’s writing skills because her writing is beautifully evocative and has some highly quotable lines. As this is a debut novel, the level of craft and sheer talent is absolutely amazing. The descriptions are gorgeous without getting in the way of the story, which is just how I like it.
This book touches upon several important themes and it does them all very well, in my opinion. Even though Juliette isn’t an immigrant, her struggle with identity and belonging will surely resonate with diaspora readers. Her character and her cousins are used to talk about the place of women in society back then and the relative privileges they enjoyed because of their respective family backgrounds.
Another main theme that runs throughout the story is that of colonialism and the creeping influence of the West on a fractured nation. The attitude of the Westerners that they could do a better job of bringing civilization and order to the city than its native inhabitants is illustrated at every turn. I’m very interested to see how this would be taken further in the sequel.
This is a promising new start to a YA historical low fantasy duology that borrows elements from the Shakespearean classic. It has great characters and fans of angsty enemies-to-lovers trope will certainly enjoy this one. With great atmospheric writing and an entertaining plotline, this deserves to be the next big thing in YA.
✨Related Post: Top 10 Exciting SFF Releases of Nov & Dec 2020
These Violent Delights Blog Tour Information
About the Author
Chloe Gong is a student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying English and international relations. During her breaks, she’s either at home in New Zealand or visiting her many relatives in Shanghai. Chloe has been known to mysteriously appear when “Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays and doesn’t deserve its slander in pop culture” is chanted into a mirror three times.
|Cas @ Daydreaming Ink||16-Nov-20|
|May @ Forever and Everly||16-Nov-20|
|Chloe @ Marshmallow Pudding||16-Nov-20|
|Avery @ B for Bookslut||17-Nov-20|
|Emelie @ Emelie’s Books||17-Nov-20|
|Nandini @ Novels and Nebulas||17-Nov-20|
|CW @ The Quiet Pond||17-Nov-20|
|Mish @ Chasing Faerytales||18-Nov-20|
|Shannon @ Discover Elysian||18-Nov-20|
|Kay @ Hammock of Books||18-Nov-20|
|Lili @ Utopia State of Mind||18-Nov-20|
|Ilsa @ A Whisper of Ink||19-Nov-20|
|Delphine @ delphreads||19-Nov-20|
|Teatime Book Reviews||19-Nov-20|
|Tracy @ Truffle’s Literary Wonders||19-Nov-20|
|Kevin @ Bookevin||20-Nov-20|
|Lauren @ Love Yo Shelf||20-Nov-20|
|Tracy @ QuillTreeFox||20-Nov-20|
|Miya @ Too Much Miya||20-Nov-20|
|Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts||21-Nov-20|
|Sara @ Lyrical Reads||21-Nov-20|
|Vanshika @ Vanshika’s Books||21-Nov-20|
|Kate @ Your Tita Kate||21-Nov-20|
|Shenwei @ READING (AS)(I)AN (AM)ERICA||22-Nov-20|
|Tiffany @ Read by Tiffany||22-Nov-20|
|Jo @ The Books are Rising||22-Nov-20|
Five (5) hardcover edition of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
- Open to international (INTL)
- Ends on 25 November 2020 (Philippine time)
Are you looking forward to These Violent Delights? Which is your favourite historical fantasy book? Are there any ARCs that you need to finish before 2020 ends? Let me know in the comments section down below. Hope you are having a magical week, readers from Earth!