Hello and welcome to the #DelightfullyViolentTour!! I am incredibly excited to be taking part in this tour, and you should definitely check out the tour schedule and other posts here.
THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS
Title: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 17 November 2020
Age Group/Genres: Young Adult, Historical
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.
Words cannot even begin to describe how much this book means to me, nor how incredible it was. There were so many reasons for me to love These Violent Delights, and I loved it for all those reasons and more. Going into this book I was pleasantly surprised and I’m so happy to say that my expectations were completely and absolutely exceeded. The characters, the integration of history, fantasy, and Shakespeare, the quality of writing and the interweaving of issues into the plot truly made it above and beyond exceptional to me.
We’ve all heard of Romeo and Juliet, but just wait until you meet Juliette Cai. I think I need to begin here by really stressing that These Violent Delights is far more a reimagining than a retelling of Shakespeare’s R&J; it incorporates all the key elements of the play into a new world. Juliette Cai, besides being a badass, is the perfect example. We see her struggles as the heir of the Scarlet Gang both as a woman and as someone who feels slightly distanced from her culture given her American education. Chloe Gong does an amazing job of portraying this and there was a lot I could relate to as a Chinese-born girl who has lived in New Zealand for most of her life. On the other side we have Roma Montagov, heir of the White Flowers. While in many ways Juliette has moved on from her past—or rather, tried to—Roma is still stuck, unable to forget. The contrast between these characters adds so much to the story, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that every interaction between Roma and Juliette is pure gold, and I’ll be screaming about the angst for many days to come. There are many other amazing characters that won’t get a mention here simply because it would make this review go on for pages and pages, but a special shout out to Alisa Montagova—Roma’s little sister—is in order.
The writing style needs a mention here because it was just so good. So much was effortlessly incorporated into the main plot without feeling like an unwanted intrusion, whether it was banter and jokes, the use of all the languages (it’s so upper-class 1920s but I love it dearly, plus it highlights the multicultural nature of Shanghai), or the way discourse about identity and colonialism was dispersed within the fantasy. I have huge respect for the fact that hopeless fountain kingdom was the writing soundtrack for this book, and the Shakespeare references had me cackling. It’s entirely possible to read and enjoy this book without having read R&J, but it’s an additional layer to the book that enhances the package. The plot is extremely clever, from the overarching mystery to the little things, like two slips of paper in one pocket (if you know you know).
In my notes I have written that dorogaya deserves its own bullet point, which it does, so while I can’t give it its own paragraph because that would be a step too far, I can begin my conclusion by mentioning it and hoping you will read These Violent Delights to find out what I’m on about. In other news, this was a rare instance of me being satisfied with the ending, it felt like a good place to stop and leaves the right number of loose ends for book two. There is something truly special about this book, and I will certainly remember it. It’s no mean feat to be able to tie 1920s Shanghai with rival gangs, a monster, and Shakespeare’s R&J, but Chloe Gong has managed to do it absolutely brilliantly. I can’t wait for book two and I will certainly be following her writing career for many years to come.
~I received an ARC from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their book tour which does not in any way influence my review~
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.
This book is so good it deserved multiple playlists, and so I present These Violent Delights… Side A and Side B! Side A is themed and attempts to follow the progression of the plot, while Side B is a random compilation of songs that remind me of the book (just because I can). They’re not super lengthy playlists (yet), and I’ll certainly be updating them in the next few months so if you wanna be updated on the progress hit that like button.
I thought I’d just take a moment here to discuss some of my song choices and talk about the themes in Side A:
Side A: Reminiscent
This section is all about Juliette’s return to
I chose Hypochondriac as my opening track because for the most part, it was the song I listened to when I took breaks from reading. If you’ve seen any of my goodreads progress updates (scroll to the bottom of the review), you’ll know that this book absolutely wrecked me and I was so enthralled by it. I feel the same about Hypochondriac, and I think it reflects Roma and Juliette at their most vulnerable.
Side A: Prologue
The songs in this section reflect the core themes of Romeo and Juliet really, so I begun with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture.
Side A: Gangster
Just for fun I decided to have a gangster element to this playlist, and we open with Keith Urban’s Out The Cage. The first time I heard this song I was absolutely speechless because it was so unexpected, but it’s also such a bop? And I feel like if These Violent Delights was onscreen Cry About It Later would be blaring every time Juliette Cai goes out especially early in the book.
Side A: Re-learning Love
This was, to me, the most beautiful part of the playlist? I wanted to capture the feelings of being able to trust again, and start anew even with a complicated and messy history. Katelyn Tarver’s music is so raw and beautiful, and it made sense to begin this section with her song Side of My Heart which does such a great job of capturing the hesitation that precedes trust.
Side A: Epilogue
There’s so much Sasha Sloan in this playlist and I’m not even sorry (hey, Chloe said she loves Sasha Sloan too so I feel justified). Anyway, this section centres around the end of the novel and the big question mark we’re left on. It starts with Feel by FLETCHER to reflect Juliette’s sacrifice at the end (am I convincing you to read this book yet), and concludes with Paradise which is an ode to the perfection you find in imperfection.
Prize: Five (5) hardcover edition of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
- Open to international (INTL)
- Ends on 25 November 2020 (Philippine time)
What makes you fall in love with a book?