These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

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These Violent Delights

by Chloe Gong

Kindle Edition, 464 pages

Published November 17th 2020 by Hodder & Stoughton

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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.

I read this book through RivetedLit #25ReadsofDecember

Everyone and their grandmother has been screaming about These Violent Delights since forever so when I saw it will be available on RivetedLit, I marked my calendar and immediately read it when it became available.

EXCITED Reaction Gifs - Album on Imgur

What stood out to me immediately was how talented Chloe Gong is. Her prose is just fantastic: it’s poetic, evokes emotions, while describing the landscape of the setting with such vivid detail. We got to experience the fears, hope, and anger and walk around the alleys and inside the bars in Shanghai. The writing does an amazing job bringing the characters and their stories to life without being excessive.

Despite being a Romeo and Juliette retelling, I admit I am less invested in their romance compared to the other storyline in this book. Don’t get me wrong, the tension and lingering feelings between Roma and Juliette hits all the right feelings for me and the way the main points of the play were utilized in this story were certainly fresh and exciting. But I just find the other aspects of the book more interesting, especially on who creates the monster and the power struggle within Shanghai. I have to say though, dorogaya will always have a special significance for me 🥺

I really want to break down different elements of the book in this review, but I ultimately can’t because I find them intertwined with each other. I enjoyed Juliette’s character and how much of it came from her love for Shanghai. I can relate to her struggle of being between two worlds and not quite fitting in on either one of those. She’s considered too Americanized, but she fiercely loves her city and the culture and hates to see it ruled by foreign powers, stripped of its ways and traditions to fit their western standards. Roma might seem quieter than Juliette and I love how in this book, it’s Juliette who’s more active compared to Roma. Despite being a foreigner, Roma also considered Shanghai as its home. All of the main cast doesn’t really fit into Shanghai, but they all share the same love for it. Through their story, we also see the detrimental effect of colonialism and “improvement” from Western countries for the locals and their traditions. These are all elements that I deeply relate with as even now, my country is still feeling the effect of colonialism on our government and mentality even though it’s almost been a century since our independence. I also feel like I was learning a lot about the 1920’s outside of the US and the UK and the history geek within me immediately fell down the wikipedia hole once I finished reading 😂

The mystery about the monster is really compelling, I can’t stop reading because I want to find out the truth behind the monster’s appearance! Despite finding the reveal to be anticlimactic and the motive to be lackluster, the ending was absolutely spectacular and made me really excited for its sequel!

This is another short review because I think everything that could be said on These Violent Delights have been said by other reviewers. For me, the writing in These Violet Delights is the best part of this book as it is vividly descriptive and evocative. Without it, the emotions and stake in this book won’t hit as hard and as close as they were for me when I was reading. It ended on quite a cliffhanger, but reading this now is definitely worth the wait!


19 thoughts on “These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

  1. So happy you read this one!! ♥ I was actually just thinking about how much I adored this book earlier today, haha. I also thought that Juliette’s love of Shanghai and how her years in America had changed how she perceived herself in relation to her birthplace, and Chloe is so SO talented w her prose and plotting and just all of it!! Cannot wait for November and the sequel to come out! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yay I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed These Violent Delights, I loved it so much too. Definitely, the writing was plain brilliant and I do get what you mean by it being hard to review different elements as many of them overlap! Truly the theme of colonisation and all was also close to my heart, I’m another southeast asian whose country has been colonised in the past before and I totally get it, despite independence there are still traces of the past. Lovely review, Tasya! ✨

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    1. Thank you, Cherelle! Yeah exactly, it’s just really hard to erase or make change to the past ways, even though it’s hard. Like I think even our criminal code is still based on theirs? Not to mention the social and cultural implications, like how some people are still viewed as “foreigners” or not Indonesian even though they’ve been living here for generations, do to the social classes and preferential treatment the Dutch had during their time.

      Liked by 1 person

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