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These Violent Delights Hardcover – 17 November 2020

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,491 ratings

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"A deliciously dark twist on Romeo and Juliet that feels vibrant, modern, and wholly exciting. Gong's writing brims with energy. I was swept away to her dark Shanghai from the first page and never wanted to leave!"

  -- Natasha Ngan, New York Times bestselling author of Girls of Paper and Fire

"Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights cuts to the heart of twentieth-century China with its scalpel-sharp prose and steel-spirited protagonists. Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov shine brighter than the glitz and glamour of historical Shanghai; sparks fly when they clash in this action-packed story set amidst a backdrop of blood feuds, gang wars, and political upheaval." -- Amelie Wen Zhao, author of Blood Heir

"Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights plants a Shakespearean classic in the rich soil of 1920s Shanghai, allowing her characters to grow, flourish, and steal your heart while warring against their own." -- Joan He, author of Descendant of the Crane

"Heady, smart, and vicious, These Violent Delights strikes every note with precision, layering romance and politics into a roaring 20s Shanghai of both monsters and monstrous imperialism." -- Tessa Gratton, author of The Queens of Innis Lear

"Full of glitter, suspense and gore, These Violent Delights takes readers into the perilous world of 1926 Shanghai. With the body count rising, and a monster lurking in the Huangpu River, Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov must put aside their differences and work together to save their city. Chloe Gong’s debut is a terrific, deliciously unputdownable read!" -- June Hur, author of The Silence of Bones

A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evident in names and specific scenes, but familiar themes of family, loyalty, and identity bear new significance in Gong’s inventive adaptation. Language is a tool wielded deftly by the multilingual characters, who switch easily among English, French, Shanghainese, Russian, and more, with Mandarin as the primary dialect for Chinese phrases. A strong supporting cast that includes a trans girl completes this striking debut.

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more. (Historical fantasy. 13-18) -- Kirkus Reviews, STARRED ― August 15, 2020

This exciting debut brings readers to 1920s Shanghai—in the wake of the Opium Wars and the rise of communism—and an unforgettable reimagining of Romeo and Juliet where rival factions the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers battle for financial and political control of their city. Juliette Cai, the fearless, ruthless, New York–educated heir to the Scarlets, will capture readers’ hearts as she evades unwelcome advances from a shifty merchant, goes adventuring with her familial allies, and manages the rising conflicts between the Cais and their sworn enemies, the Russian Montagov family. Gong brings a high literary style and Shakespearean inspiration to a wholly unique world, from the vivid characterization of Roma Montagov and his mysterious connection to—and traumatic betrayal of—Juliette, to the banter, plot twists, and meticulous details on fashion. In addition to the expected tragic bloodshed, silver eyes have been spotted in the Huangpu River. Rumors speak of a guài (monster) that has the power to cause a suicidal madness in the people of Shanghai, and the gangs must work together to save Shanghai—and themselves. Amid the impressive world building, Gong’s characters encounter vaccines in vials, xenophobic tendencies, and the interweaving of delightful Shanghainese dialogue, bringing to life a high-energy novel about how people can be monsters, too. -- Booklist, STARRED Review ― September 1, 2020

*GONG, Chloe. These Violent Delights. 464p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Nov. 2020. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781534457690.

Gr 8 Up–Insta-love reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet occurred four years before this story begins, leaving Juliette and Roma the bitterest of exes. Juliette Cai, daughter and heir to Lord Cai of the Scarlet Gang, has returned from New York to find Shanghai drastically changed from the city she and Roma talked about ruling. Foreigners have taken chunks of the city, leaving the Russian White Flowers—ruled by the Montagovs—and the Scarlets to fight over what’s left. Now an infectious madness spreads through both gangs, leaving its victims to claw their own throats out. When Roma’s little sister Alisa is infected, he teams up with Juliette to hunt down the cause and the cure. The cast of characters is diverse in ethnicities and identities. Roma and his cousin Benedikt are white, and their fellow White Flower Marshall Seo is Korean and queer. Juliette and her twin cousins Kathleen and Rosalind are Chinese; Kathleen is a trans woman. Gong combines star-crossed lovers with a gripping mystery, violent blood feud, and the glamour of 1926 Shanghai, turning the familiar play into a story readers have never seen before. Shakespeare fans will feel rewarded by parallels in the retelling, but Gong’s writing has a sharp wit and offers new, thrilling stakes for all her readers. VERDICT Gong’s debut is not to be missed. With a dazzling setting, a mysterious series of murders, and diverse, unapologetically criminal characters, this novel ranks with the greatest YA ­retellings.

–Emmy Neal, Lake Forest Lib., IL -- School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW ― October 2020

1926 Shanghai is no place for the faint-hearted, not when the streets run red as the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers continue their endless turf war. Juliette Cai, heir to the Scarlet Gang’s control, is as cold-blooded as they come, and her ruthless ambition is bolstered by the fury she feels toward Roma Montagov, her ex and the next in line as the White Flower’s leader. Roma does his best to avoid Juliette, but then several of his men are found dead after having apparently clawed their own necks open; rumors swirl of a monstrous creature stalking the residents, a strange sickness spreads through the city, and the former star-crossed lovers are forced together to figure out how to take back their streets from an unexpected force. Romeo and Juliet is masterfully transformed from doomed teenaged love story to a thrilling blend of political intrigue, gruesome horror, race-against-the-clock mystery, and, yes, romance, set against a city that becomes a character in its own right. No one’s moral compass points north in this story, and Juliette’s is well near shattered, but many of the characters are compelling and even likable despite their criminal tendencies. Gong gives a respectful nod to Shakespeare’s original cast iteration before revisioning her own and bringing it into a setting rife with violence and vengeance. A legendary creature that infects its victims’ brains so that they brutally kill themselves is made to believably exist amidst the political upheaval of Shanghai, making a fascinating exploration of the various foreign interests in the city equally as enthralling as the book’s horror elements. Given the source material, readers may be surprised by the cliffhanger ending, but they’ll be anxiously waiting to see if a tragic fate comes for Roma and Juliette in the sequel, or if they’ll slay the various monsters to get to their own happy ending.  KQG -- BCCB ― November 1, 2020

This mesmeric fantastical reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet nestles the star-crossed lovers—renamed Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai—in an atmospheric mid-1920s Shanghai, where the Russian Montagovs, head of the White Flowers, and the Chinese Cais, head of the Scarlet Gang, have been embroiled in an age-old blood feud. Freshly returned from New York City, 18-year-old Juliette struggles to be respected as the heir of the Scarlets, since cultural sexism deems her hotheaded cousin Tyler, also 18, more worthy of deference. Meanwhile, Roma, 19, has never regained favor in his father’s eyes after the bloody attack that wrested Roma from Juliette’s good graces four years previously. But with colonial and communist tensions rising within Shanghai and “a strange madness”—linked to a rumored river monster—compelling men on every side to tear out their own throats, former lovers Roma and Juliette must reunite and surmount the bad blood between them if they have any hope of saving their city. Gong’s incisive retelling imbues a thoroughly modern richness, with arresting prose and an inclusive cast. A lush, wholly original debut that will satiate Shakespeare aficionados and draw those seeking an engrossing, multifaceted historical fantasy. Ages 14–up. (Nov.) -- Publishers Weekly *STARRED*

About the Author

Chloe Gong is the New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights and its sequel, Our Violent Ends. She is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she double-majored in English and international relations. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Chloe is now located in New York pretending to be a real adult. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok under @TheChloeGong or check out her website at TheChloeGong.com. 

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Margaret K. McElderry Books (17 November 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 464 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1534457690
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1534457690
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 14 years and up
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 626 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.24 x 3.81 x 22.86 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,491 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
1,491 global ratings
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Reviewed in India on 19 November 2020
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The coycaterpillar Reads
2.0 out of 5 stars Very poorly executed
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 February 2021
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11 people found this helpful
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1.0 out of 5 stars paperback não vale a pena
Reviewed in Brazil on 30 April 2021
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25 people found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Romeo and Juliet retelling we all want
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 November 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Romeo and Juliet retelling we all want
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 November 2020
I was kindly gifted a copy of this ebook by Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So thank you so so much!

When I initially heard about These Violent Delights, all I knew was that it was a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in a 1920’s Shanghai. For me that was enough to get excited and immediately pre-order. I have always been a huge fan of the forbidden romance/enemies to romance tropes, so Romeo and Juliet was always up my street.

I didn’t know much more about this one until I received the ARC, so I was extremely pleased to find that not only was it an R&J retelling but also containing a murder mystery, monsters, and gangsters.

The thing that really captured me was the writing style. I was immediately drawn in to the 1920’s Shanghai and politics surrounding the story itself. I found it informative without even realising, with the rich descriptions I felt as if I were there myself at times.

In regards to the story I really enjoyed it, it dived right into the action and was easy to follow, there was little hidden in regards to the gory deaths and that made it all the more exciting. Although we immediately knew the cause of these deaths it was still surrounded in mystery and remained that way until the very last page, being 464 pages (according to Goodreads) the expectation would be that we would get an early reveal or after some time it would become a little predictable or even dare I say it a bit boring. But I was still as hooked as I was when I first started. The one thing I love about the mystery's is trying to predict the killer, but I had no chance with this one. Characters were introduced so intricately that you didn’t question their motives until everything became clear at the end.

Throughout the book various plot holes arise, mentions of the past we do not know about but so desperately want to, they are revealed neatly at the end in a way which fits the story, rather than simply info dumping.

I loved the ending, it was suspenseful, everything came to together and set up book 2 perfectly. My only issue is that by reading this ARC I now have even longer to wait for the sequel!

I liked being able to recognise the characters from the play, being such a big family on both sides I found it easier to keep track of each one and their relevance to the plot. I felt we saw more of the Cai’s rather than the Montagov’s, so although I feel I have a pretty good idea of Juliette’s family with Roma I still feel a little unsure. But I am hoping this is something that can be looked into more in the sequel. However I do have to say that this replicates their relations to their family perfectly.

We become immediately aware that although both are in line to take over from their family only one is more comfortable doing so. Only Juliette was trying to fit into the role which was almost being taken from her, whereas with Roma, I can’t recall more than a single instance that he was actually at his family home, unstinting to continue on with the reigns being passed onto him.

Speaking of characters, I enjoyed the diversity. I will admit I did get a little confused with Kathleen’s past, when they spoke about the death of a sister, I assumed it referred to Kathleen in her being transgender. However when another sister was mentioned I did get a bit lost. I am planning to re-read this once the book is released, and since I have a physical copy I think it will make it easier to keep track of what may have happened.

I loved the closeness of both families, Roma with his cousin and friend, and their slow building romance between them. And also Juliette and her cousins. Aside from Roma and Juliette I think Marshall and Benedikt’s relationship was a big favourite of mine, I loved the friendship and the banter they had, but also when it was suggested there was more to it.

Ultimately the build up between Roma and Juliette was so frustrating, but at the same time I don’t think it could have happened any other way. I loved how long it took for them to trust each other fully again, with the combination of not knowing what had happened between made it all the more interesting to read on.

Overall I loved the book, I felt it was executed perfectly and was more than I was hoping for in every way. I do have some theory regarding book 2, there was a mention of a traitor but nothing more was said so I am hoping this is going to be a bit plot point in the sequel. I have an idea on who I think it may be, so time will tell!

My only issue that I had, and it was a relatively small one considering was with the bugs. Naturally we don’t know a lot about the bugs however, I wanted to know how they knew that by killing the host the bugs would also die. There was a lot of talk of killing this monster to save everyone (which was pretty important) but no one really thought about what they would do if the bugs weren’t affected, or even if they couldn’t kill it.

Again its not a bit issue at all, I am pretty hopeful we will find out more in book 2!
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4 people found this helpful
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1.0 out of 5 stars Liked the setting but overall a boring read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 March 2021
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Kristel Greer
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a brilliant retelling of Romeo and Juliette set in Shanghai in 1926
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 March 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a brilliant retelling of Romeo and Juliette set in Shanghai in 1926
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 March 2021
This is a brilliant retelling of Romeo and Juliette set in Shanghai in 1926. Roma Montagov, heir to a Russian mafia family, the White Flowers and Juliette Cai, daughter to the head of the Chinese drug cartel, the Scarlets. Roma and Juliette met young, fell in love but were cruelly separately by Roma's betrayal which led to deaths on both sides. Juliette leaves Shanghai to live the high life in New York while Roma remains behind.

Juliette returns and tensions between the rival families are at an all-time high. However, a new threat arises with dire consequences for both the White Flowers and Scarlet gangs. A mysterious affliction is sweeping through their members and making them claw their throats out in a sudden onset of madness. Roma and Juliette must set aside their animosity and distrust and work together to find a solution. Their investigation uncovers a powerful supernatural foe at the heart of the contagion. As the deaths pile up, tension rises between the ex-lovers which force them to confront their unresolved feelings and the trauma of their pasts. Will they find the solution before it's too late and can move past their differences to rekindle their love?

This was a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 read for me as I loved the attention to detail given to the backstory and world-building at the start which set the stage for a gripping and addictive plot. The fresh take on the Shakespearean story was incredibly creative and I found that both the main characters as well as the supporting roles were beautifully written with complex backgrounds, motivations and diverse personalities. The sexual tension jumped off the page and the visceral love story between Roma and Juliette was both riveting and emotional to read. I loved the Shanghai backdrop with its rich Chinese customs and cultural references as well as the historical elements of the rise of communism and the interference of foreign powers of that time which were incorporated into the plot. This added more depth and realism to the story.
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