Two gangs, both alike in violence, in 1920s Shanghai where a monster prowls the streets…
For those who haven’t guessed it yet, These Violent Delights is a twist on the classic Romeo & Juliet. A dark, violent (yes, it’s in the title), and gory retelling set in 1920s Shanghai. Two rivaling gangs that rule about half the city are losing territory quickly to the rise of the Communist Party, French and British imperialism, and now a deadly monster that’s decimating their numbers.
Needing to fight at least one monster, Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov (heirs to the Chinese-led Scarlets and Russian-led White Flowers, respectively) take on the literal monster (brilliant metaphor, may I just say) that’s risen from the Huangpu River. They table their complicated romantic past (and mutual hatred) to catch the monster or cure its madness-inducing contagion that causes victims to tear out their throats. Only problem, the monster and contagion are killing fast and indiscriminately, leaving little to no trace. And there’s the matter of the blood feud. Roma’s position within the White Flowers remains as precarious as it was four years ago when his canoodling Juliette came to light, leading to the bloodiest days of the blood feud yet — and to his mother’s death. Should anyone discover the two together, they would be more than disowned.
Juliette is ruthless, angry, and twice as quick to strike out and prove she’s got what it takes to one day lead the Scarlets, despite (or because of) the (many) nay-sayers who dismiss her because of her gender. And although Roma (more of a gentle soul) would rather not kill, he inflicts violence when needed. Characters here are all on a morally gray spectrum, wonderfully tilting the ground and making things unpredictable and exciting. The story moves at a slow-burn through its three acts, with Shanghai a rich and detailed character. The focus is on the monster hunt (not the romance), and the mystery drives the plot. These Violent Delights is book one in a duology, with book two (Our Violent Ends) releasing later this year.
Book: These Violent Delights
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Jonathan Ball Publishers kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.