Written By: Chloe Gong
For Ages: YA (CW: Gun violence, gore, kissing, gangs)
Language: Majority English, some Chinese & Russian.
Topics Covered: Romeo & Juliet Retelling, Communism, China, Gangsters, Fantasy, Monsters, Historical Fiction.
Summary: I think all of us have had to read Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare in school, but none of us have ever read anything like THIS before. Set in 1920’s Shanghai, warring members from the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers must overcome a decades long blood feud when a mysterious illness begins to sweep through the streets, causing the afflicted to rip out their own throats. Soon whisperings of a monster that lurks in the river is the cause of the illness. Juliette has just returned from attending school in America, where she spent 4 years trying to forget how Roma betrayed her and ordered an attack on her family. However, now they might be forced to secretly join forces again when the delicate chaos that surrounds their lives begins to spin out of control.
I really enjoyed reading this book because the story places itself into history at the edge of the Communist takeover of China in the late 1920’s, and adds in fantasy elements to create a world that I enjoyed much more than Shakespeare’s. The intricate plot has details that calls back to the original but adds in contemporary discussions about colonialism, colorism, and loyalty. There is also a transgender character, and insinuations of two others being LGBTQ. These Violent Delights left me wanting more (the sequel is slated for a 2021 release and I already can’t wait), and it was a brilliant way to spend a few hours in the YA lit universe.
This ARC was kindly sent by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are my own. These Violent Delights is being released on November 17th!
Chloe Gong is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, double-majoring in English and International Relations. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, she now lives at the top of a crumbling, ivory tower in Philadelphia (also known as student housing).
After devouring the entire YA section of her local library, she started writing her own novels at age 13 to keep herself entertained, and has been highly entertained ever since. Chloe has been known to mysteriously appear by chanting “Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays and doesn’t deserve its slander in pop culture” into a mirror three times.