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These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Young adult

These Violent Delights


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Chloe Gong, on your first book!

by Chloe Gong

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Quick take

This young adult take on Romeo and Juliet includes forbidden love, feuding families, and a plague on everyone's houses.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_ForbiddenLove

    Forbidden love

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Magical


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_BasedOnAClassic

    Based on a classic


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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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of These Violent Delights.
These Violent Delights


In glittering Shanghai, a monster awakens.

Its eyes snap open in the belly of the Huangpu River, jaws unhinging at once to taste the foul blood seeping into the waters. Lines of red slither through this ancient city’s modern streets: lines that draw webs in the cobblestones like a network of veins, and drip by drip these veins surge into the waters, pouring the city’s life essence into the mouth of another.

As the night grows dark, the monster pushes itself up, eventually emerging from the waves with the leisure of a forgotten god. When it turns its head up, all that can be seen is the low-hanging, plump moon.

It breathes in. It slinks closer.

Its first breath transforms into a cold breeze, hurtling into the streets and brushing the ankles of those unfortunate enough to be stumbling home during the devil’s hour. This place hums to the tune of debauchery. This city is filthy and deep in the thrall of unending sin, so saturated with the kiss of decadence that the sky threatens to buckle and crush all those living vivaciously beneath it in punishment.

But no punishment comes—not yet. The decade is loose and the morals are looser. As the West throws its arms up in unending party, as the rest of the Middle Kingdom remains splintered among aging warlords and the remnants of imperial rule, Shanghai sits in its own little bubble of power: the Paris of the East, the New York of the West.

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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.

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Member ratings (11,914)

  • Noelani M.

    Fallon , NV

    I love the Romeo and Juliet feel of this book and how it was set in the 1920’s of Shanghai with a fantasy/sci-fi writing style! I loved how it had action and adventure with a romance feel!!Love it!!

  • Samantha H.

    Berwyn, PA

    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

  • Annaliese O.

    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

  • Madeleine A.

    Hamilton, OH

    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.

  • Caitlin B.

    San Angelo, TX

    I absolutely loved this book! The twists, the intrigue, the fear of catching a “contagious sickness” which I’m sure we can all sympathize with. Childhood friends to enemies to lovers is perfection!

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