Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

I was sent a free eARC copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city in the grip of chaos. At its heart 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.

Title: These Violent Delights

Author: Chloe Gong

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Genre: Fiction, YA, Fantasy, Historical


There’s a mysterious madness sweeping the streets of Shanghai – and it goes way beyond the resources of the feuding Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers. Juliette and Roma weren’t always such bitter enemies but that was a long time ago. Now they might just have to work together to figure out what’s going on in their city.

There were so many things that I loved about this book – the first thing I have to note is the world building. From the very start, despite never having visited Shanghai (or China in general) I felt as though I was there. From the Scarlet’s burlesque club to the port with eyes hidden beneath the water, the descriptions were so brilliant that imagining this story playing out was no difficult task! Similar to the descriptions of places, the writing style when it came to characters (their descriptions and how they interact with each other) is also excellently done. Juliette was a particularly interesting character to read as she’s such a strong personality that when we do see her vulnerable side, we feel as if we’re really getting to know her. I also have the biggest soft spot for Marshall Seo who seems, despite the gun, such a warm funny guy to be around. The plot moves well and also involves a twist that I feel I didn’t manage to see coming that really spices up the ending. We also end on a cliffhanger which perfectly sets up the opportunity for the sequel that’s already in the works.

I also really liked that this story was a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – there’s just enough in it for readers to make connections to the original (two warring families, forbidden love, the names of characters, etc.) but it doesn’t follow it completely. Gong has obviously found inspiration there but has really made this story something that stands alone – which, for me, makes a retelling all the better!

As for what I disliked, there really wasn’t much as this book was a really enjoyable read. I would note that I would have liked to see more of the inner workings of the two gangs. We’re introduced to several key members but most of them aren’t featured heavily throughout the story, nor do we see much general gang activity (and I’m thinking along the lines of Peaky Blinders here, just for reference) which was something that I’d been excited for upon hearing the premise for the book. However, all of this is simply replaced with a much bigger plot which definitely didn’t disappoint.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys their sci-fi/fantasy mixed with a bit of history and isn’t afraid of some far fetched monsters from the deep! Also, if you, like me, love re-tellings I’d recommend giving this one a go for sure!

Rating: 4/5

Recommend?: Yes

Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!

You can always find me over on Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌

4 thoughts on “Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

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