Title: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1)
Author: Chloe Gong
Thank you to Simon Pulse for providing me with an ARC through NetGalley!
These Violent Delights has been on my radar for quite some time. The author has been touting this book as a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, full of gangsters, blood feuds, and yearning, and boy did she deliver on that premise. From the writing to the characters to the execution, These Violent Delights kills it.
“A love like theirs was never going to survive in a city divided by hate.”
Most Shakespeare retellings have subtle nods to their source material, but there is nothing subtle about These Violent Delights and it works so well. The book doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: a Romeo and Juliet retelling. The characters are named Juliet and Roma, there are two family-run gangs in a blood feud, there are side characters are named Benedikt and Rosalind, Juliet had a nursemaid growing up whom she was close too, etc. And although the reader may feel like the story is familiar and they know what to expect, the beauty of retellings (and this particular retelling) is that the author has added so many other elements that it becomes something fresh and new.
“The love and the liar, the liar and the lover. They switched those roles between themselves like it was a game.”
Chloe Gong is a beautiful writer. The descriptions were elegant and vivid, easily transporting me into the book. She did an amazing job crafting the setting and building the world in These Violent Delights. Not only are we given too strongly written and easily captivating protagonists by way of Juliet and Romeo, but there are a cast of side characters whom I loved reading about just as much. The book always does a fantastic job of including important themes, such as the political history of China and colonization, and wonderful LGBT rep!
These Violent Delights was a perfectly executed retelling of a Shakespeare classic. I’m obsessed with the Scarlet Gang and White Flowers and I cannot wait for every to choose a side come November!