Fantasy, Historical, Magical Realism, Retelling, Review, Sci-Fi, Young Adult

[Blog Tour Review] A Deliciously Bloody and Heartstopping Debut by Chloe Gong #DelightfullyViolentTour

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Nov 17, 2020)
Series: These Violent Delights #1

Thank you to Caffeine Book Tours and Margaret K. McElderry Books for an eARC of These Violent Delights and the invitation to be a part of the Delightfully Violent Tour!

To say that I am excited for Chloe Gong’s debut novel, These Violent Delights is quite an understatement since I’ve had my eye on it since it was announced. As it was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, I was especially nervous to pick it up because with anticipation comes expectations. Did Chloe Gong’s retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet meet my expectations? The answer is a big fuck yes as These Violent Delights is a book I never knew I needed to exist until I’ve read it.

“Astra inclinant sed non obligant. The stars incline us, they do not bind us.”

These Violent Delights, as described by the author herself, is a love letter to the classic tale of star-crossed lovers. The book introduces two rival gangs in 1920s Shanghai, the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers and it is no surprise that there’s no love lost between both gangs. Juliette Cai, the heir of the Scarlet Gang has recently returned from the States after 4 years and she’s not only returning to her beloved city. She returns to her former paramour, Roma Montagov of the White Flowers and things weren’t particularly cordial when they last saw each other.

Amid the ensuing war that threatens the position and rule of each gang every passing day, Shanghai finds herself in the clutches of an evil threat. A threat that could potentially wipe out everyone in the city, leaving the streets littered with bloodied bodies with claw marks all over their necks. Sounds like a wild ride, doesn’t it? Heck, you don’t even know half of it but I cordially invite you to dig into These Violent Delights and you might just lose yourselves in the pages of Chloe Gong’s stunning retelling of a tantalising tale of family, honour and love.

What impressed me the most about These Violent Delights was Chloe Gong’s immersive writing that brought Shanghai to life in all of its splendour. Set in the backdrop of one of the most lavish and magnificent cities in history, I couldn’t help but to be seduced by the grittiness and romance of Shanghai during the 1920s and I thought the sights and sounds of the city were described with such rich clarity, I lost myself in the pages of the book.

Initially, I did struggle a little bit in the beginning of the book as there was a lot being compressed into the first 25% of the book, but eventually, I fell into the reading groove and found myself loving every page of it. Therefore, if you feel like the first few chapters are a bit difficult to get into, please don’t give up. Persevere! It gets better and you’ll definitely be swept away with how fast-paced and action-packed the rest of the book is.

“Was it loyalty that created power? Or was loyalty only a symptom offered when the circumstances were favourable and taken away when the tides turned?”

I am pleased to share that These Violent Delights features a cast of diverse and nuanced characters. From the ruthlessly cunning and ambitious portrayal of the archetypal heroine, I was very much drawn to read about Juliette Cai. I loved how human and flawed she was, in the sense that she followed her heart one too many times and she’s unapologetic for it. On the other hand, we have Roma Montagov who seemed to be equally clever and shies away from the violence and bloodshed. Due to his devotion to his family and determined to prove his worth to his father, he endures everything for the sake of protecting the ones he loves. If he’s not a cinnamon roll who deserves to be protected at all costs, I don’t know what he is.

The forbidden romance between Juliette and Roma serves as an underlying plot for the story, drawing in readers by hinting what happened between them 4 years ago, right before Juliette upped and left for New York. As someone who particularly enjoys the enemies-to-lovers trope, I was completely invested in their history and the tension between them was palpable, almost to a point where I excitedly and desperately begged them to kiss. On multiple occasions, I am not embarrassed to admit.

“You destroy me and then you kiss me. You give me reason to hate you and then you give me reason to love you. Is this a lie or the truth? Is this a ploy or your heart reaching for me?”

As for the secondary characters in the story, I was very much invested in Roma’s friends and partners in crime, Benedikt and Marshall. Not only because Marshall is one hell of a charmer, but I loved the dynamics between the both of them because Benedikt’s quiet countenance balanced out Marshall’s effervescent personality. Other characters include Juliette’s cousins Rosalind and Kathleen, the latter is a trans girl, who brought on more depth to the multifaceted story with chapters told from their POVs. I fully expect to see them in the sequel, especially since it’s hinted that there’s a little spark between Benedikt and Marshall and I am here for it.

A tantalising blend of historical fiction and sci-fi fantasy that is deliciously violent on every account, addictive as hell once it’s got its claws hooked onto you, These Violent Delights is an absolutely stunning retelling of the well-loved classic. Chloe Gong’s debut will surely land a spot on everyone’s Best of 2020 list with its dangerously romantic yet all-consuming love story, set in a richly descriptive city that is rife with violence, opulence and on the edge of westernisation.

about the book

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.

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 orvisiting 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.

the blog tour

November 16
💜 #CBTTC Twitter chat hosted by @CaffeineTours (9 AM EST / 9 PM PHT)
💜 Daydreaming Ink 
💜 Forever and Everly 
💜 Marshmallow Pudding 

November 17
💜 B for Bookslut 
💜 Emelie’s Books 
💜 Novels and Nebulas 
💜 The Quiet Pond 

November 18
💜 Chasing Faerytales 
💜 Discover Elysian 
💜 Hammock of Books 
💜 Utopia State of Mind 

November 19
💜 A Whisper Of Ink 
💜 delphreads 
💜 Teatime book reviews 
💜 Truffle’s Literary Wonders 

November 20
💜 Bookevin 
💜 Love Yo Shelf 
💜 QuillTreeFox 
💜 too much miya 

November 21
💜 Bookwyrming Thoughts 
💜 Lyrical Reads 
💜 Vanshika’s Books 
💜 Your Tita Kate 

November 22
💜 mybookcastle 
💜 Read by Tiffany 
💜 The Books are Rising

the giveaway

For this tour, Caffeine Book Tours are giving away five (5) hardback copies of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong! This giveaway is open internationally and it ends at 12am on November 25, 2020 (Philippine time). Click here to stand a chance to win a copy!

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