This young adult take on Romeo and Juliet includes forbidden love, feuding families, and a plague on everyone's houses.
Good to know
Based on a classic
Why I love it
I’ve always been the kind of person who roots for the underdog, which is one reason why I love young adult fantasy books so much. The stories and the worlds can vary widely—from The Lord of the Rings-style epics to dragons fighting in the sky—but each time, without fail, you’ll find a classic tale of a young, untested hero fighting forces of evil and maybe finding love along the way.
When I first picked up this book I thought, this is wild, and then I couldn’t put it down for 3 days. This buzzy YA novel set in 1920s-era Shanghai is actually about two heroes. There’s Juliette, returned from abroad to reclaim her place as eventual leader of the Scarlet Gang (a criminal enterprise run by her family). Then there’s Roma, son of the rival gang, the White Flowers. Though their families have warred for decades, Juliette and Roma were lovers until a painful rift tore them apart years ago. But when a mysterious and deathly pandemic takes Shanghai by surprise, they choose to set aside their differences in order to save their beloved city.
If this story sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Author Chloe Gong based the story on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Her take is an entertaining and thought-provoking update that features a meticulously-crafted setting and a lovable and diverse cast of characters. Full of history, action, and romance, These Violent Delights is four hundred and fifty pages of fun with a lot of very eerie parallels to the world we are living in right now.
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.
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Turns out the author was my friend’s roommate when this book was published. Of course, I totally fangirled because I am obsessed with this book, and it seems like there will be another one. Can’t wait
Saint George, UT
As a true lover of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this book was a treat. It has action, romance, fantasy, political intrigue, and deep characters. You will love it even if you don’t know the original
I’m always skeptical of retold classics, but this book was fantastic. The plot referenced the original plot but was also so entirely unique and unexpected, Shakespeare himself couldn’t find a fault.
American Fork, UT
A terrific and beautifully written story. I absolutely loved this retelling of Romeo and Juliet. The setting of Shanghai in the 20’s was so fascinating and I loved the historical fantasy/mystery vibe.
I am obsessed with this book, and I’ve already preordered the sequel. It’s a fun twist on a classic story, and the ending was different but true to the OG. Multiple couples with good chemistry too.
Salt Lake City , UT
Truly brilliant. The adaptation of Romeo & Juliette (always a favorite)-incredible! Captivating characters, history/period details made this book come to life! Can’t wait to see more from this author.
I was surprised how much I liked the story and how fast I ate it up. I love the character Roma and even found myself loving Marshall and Benedikt. ❤️ the White flowers and Can’t wait for book 2.
This book was an amazing debut that felt nothing like a debut. I fell in love with the atmosphere and the story so quickly. And the writing was lyrical in an easy to understand way. New favorite book!
New York, NY
Really enjoyed this romp through 1920s Shanghai with it's Shakespearean twists and fantasy elements embedded with real historical events. Great characters and side plots, kept me guessing til the end
This book was so good! I loved the retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but set in this locale gave it a whole new vibe. This is important in retellings for me because I want to recognize, but not reread.
I thought that this spin on the Romeo & Juliet saga including the war between the Cai's & Montagov's was intriguing, surprising & definitely a must read! I was so engrossed that I couldn't put it down
Before Chloe Gong, I was not at all interested in Shakespearean-based novels. Gong adds the perfect amount of tension with strong female characters while semi-modernizing a Romeo and Juliet retelling.
A more modern (1926) adaptation of Romeo & Juliet (it took me until the middle of the book to realize their names were Roma and Juliette....there's a discussion of her Chinese name and I was like..oh.
An amazing reimagined version of Romeo and Juliette! I mean it’s not a three day relationship between two teenagers (thank god) lol it still has star crossed lovers, but also a monster! I loved it!
Okay, I HATE the Romeo and Juliet trope, but this one was clever, unique, and engaging. "Knowing the story" doesn't spoil the plot of this 'retelling.' I'm not even sure this counts as a retelling.
I just LOVE these characters: verging on antihero while forcing you to cheer for them. The plot is compelling, the historical setting stunning, and the Shakespeare references delightfully repurposed.
So it starts slow. Like it took me a while to read the first 300 pages. However the last 150 i absolutely flew through. I’m upset about where it ended because I don’t want to wait for the sequel!
Took me a bit to get into, as someone who likes Shakespeare, I was worried it was going to be too similar to Romeo and Juliet. I was pleasantly surprised and ended hooked! Cant wait for the next one
Airway Heights, WA
This book was incredible. A Romeo & Juliet reimagining sounds cliché, but this book is so much more than that. There are so many layers to this story, and it completely drew me in and devoured me.
Crown Point , IN
This twist on a classic reinvents characters, but keeps them similar at their core in many ways. It brings the same rush from violence and passion as the original play, with just a hint of fantasy.