You will probably know within a few chapters whether this book for you. Recently, I have had a talk with some other bloggers on our preferences, and how our love for either character centric or plot centric books can completely dictate what popular fantasies books we like. I am at heart, a character driven reader but I think I can honestly say that These Violent Delights is as plot driven as it is character driven; a perfect blend! I’m already itching to read the sequel in this duology, which will be out in November. I’m also utterly terrified, as I’m sure we are all wondering just how closely Gong is going to follow Shakespeare’s storylines.
Nearly a decade after taking mandatory Elizabethan-era English literature classes in university, the iambic pentameter of William Shakespeare has crept back into my life. Unexpectedly though, it came in the form of Chloe Gong’s debut novel, These Violent Delights. Set in 1920s Shanghai, this tale of star-crossed (ex)lovers twists a knife into Shakespeare’s famous tragedy—it weaves familiar story beats with unexpected turns as Roma and Juliette, the two heirs to rival crime families, navigate intense hostilities, foreign colonizers, a strange and deadly contagion, as well as their past romance. As tension and chaos in Shanghai builds toward a fever pitch, the two become entangled again in ways that fuel the story (to both good and middling results). Question is, to what end? The above warning of Friar Laurence to Romeo in Romeo and Juliet rings ever true: such fiery delight—a connection consumed by fire and powder—is likely to end in disaster.