- Title: These Violent Delights
- Author: Chloe Gong
- Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
- Release Date: 11/17/20
- Genre: Fiction
- Age Range: Young Adult
- Trigger Warnings: Mentions and descriptions of blood, violence, gore, character deaths, transphobia, explicit description of gouging self (not of their own volition), murder, weapon use, insects, alcohol consumption, parental abuse.
- Rating: ★★★★
- Publisher’s Summary: 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.
Chloe Gong’s debut novel, These Violent Delights is an enthralling read. She has a very lyrical and poetic writing style that makes the world of 1920s Shanghai come alive throughout the story. This becomes particularly potent when Gong describes blood and insect infestations. I was warned not to eat while reading this novel, and I would certainly echo that caution.
The story brings the readers into the minds of both Roma and Juliette, which builds empathy for both characters. Both of them feel like real complex humans beings, and the reader is brought into all of their emotions.
These Violent Delights is full of suspense. It was hard to put down because I wanted to know the source of “the madness” and how Juliette and Roma might be able to stop it from spreading. The story mirrors major plot points of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, however, I never felt like I knew what was going to happen next in the story.
Gong recently revealed that the sequel, Our Violent Ends, will be coming on November 16, 2021. I look forward to continuing to read about these characters and to find out what happens next.
Food Pairing: Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao)
As I was reading These Violent Delights, I did some research into what food is particular to Shanghai. Number one on every list was soup dumplings (Xiaolongbao).
I remembered seeing soup dumplings on the menu at a restaurant near me, Tri Dim West, and I had to order them.
The dumplings were absolutely delicious. They were pretty small, which made them easy to eat. They also had just the right amount of soup in them to make them feel decadant but not too messy.
I would definitely recommend eating soup dumplings as you read These Violent Delights…just maybe not at the same time.