Book Review: Chloe Gong’s “These Violent Delights”


Arlet Cruz, Staff Writer

“IN 1920’s SHANGHAI A MONSTER AWAKENS” is the opening line for Chloe Gong’s duology masterpiece, These Violent Delights. Gong gives a makeover to the classic Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet, to give her audience a fanatical and historical fiction filled story. If readers enjoyed the play or even the 1996 Romeo + Juliet screen adaption, then they will appreciate Gong’s work.

The “play” lies in Shanghai where protagonist, Juliette Cai, has returned from America to begin her preparations to become the new head of the Scarlet Gang that rules over Shanghai. At the same time, Roma Montagov, the heir to the Scarlet Gang’s opposition (AKA the White Flowers), is solving a mystery plaguing Shanghai: a mysterious force killing both Scarlet Gang and White Flower members. Eventually, Juliette and Roma must disregard a tumultuous past to find the root of the disease plaguing Shanghai. Throughout the book, Gong uses actual historical events as a part of Shanghai’s history including political aspects such as Shanghai’s battle of colonialism and political parties that threaten Juliette and Roma’s world.

Readers will enjoy the independent and strong female lead and an equally headed male lead. The side characters’ diverse backgrounds also add depth and believability to the storyline. This novel’s descriptive and action-packed scenes depict the history that surrounds not only the colonization of the county of Shanghai. 

While Gong draws on Shakespeare for inspiration, she delivers an original work full of one-of-a-kind scenes, characters and themes. The popularity of the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet suggests that readers that Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov are characters that every reader will want to indulge in learning about. Readers can expect to feel engaged in solving the overall mystery alongside the likeable and relatable characters.

These Violent Delights is only part one of Gong’s duology with her second book Our Violent Ends and a sister book Foul Lady Fortune coming out late September. Readers can also expect her newest short novel The Last Violent Call filled with two stories based on both the These Violent Delights Duology and Foul Lady Fortune. With this said, Chloe Gong’s descriptive style paired with her diverse and well-rounded characters pack the mystery, action, politics drama and, of course, love that will achieve and sustain the attention and adoration of readers.