These Violent Delights review
Who in their right mind would pass up a chance to read a book that starts with these tantalising words? These Violent Delights, written by Chloe Gong, is a delightful retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, except this time, Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai, the heirs to rival gangs in 1920’s Shanghai, are forced to collaborate in order to save innocent lives when a mysterious monster lurks on the streets.
The first thing which immediately caught my attention was the fact that Roma and Juliette were involved in the blood feud, instead of sitting out, as was the case in the original Romeo and Juliet. I think that this was a very smart decision as it fleshed out the characters much more, and showed that both Juliette and Roma are beautifully flawed because they are young, in love and human. They both make mistakes and some rather unsavoury choices, but they are what they were raised to be: to be the best and most ruthless gangsters in the city. And their will-they-won’t-they romance, full of tension and disguised longing, is one of the best things in this book.
One positive was the beautiful writing that made up this book. Filled with striking descriptions and delightful imagery, all the characters are so realistic that I felt like I had climbed inside the book and was actually living their lives. Additionally, the story is fast paced, with a good dose of both action and conversation. In addition to this, every chapter leaves you thirsting for more as it’s simply unputdownable. And the relationships between the characters? AMAZING. The close bond Juliette shares with her cousin Kathleen is everything: fierce, unconditional and willing-to-die-for-each-other. Along with this, the easy camaraderie Roma has with Benedikt and Marshall is heartwarming.
The only peeve of mine with this book is the fact that I wasn’t really sure which genre it was. I went in expecting historical fiction, but it turned out to be a somewhat pseudo-fantasy book as well. Where the monster came from and what exactly it was wasn't explained that well, so it was quite murky, and I didn’t really enjoy that part. The strange mixture of genres confused me a bit, but that’s just my personal opinion.
In conclusion, this book is for any diehard fan of Shakespeare, enemies to lovers, vicious gang rivalries and a glittering city full of dark secrets. Just be careful if you don’t enjoy genre bending, but be sure to read it with an open mind as I think just about anyone would enjoy this.