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The Book Briefing 01- These Violent Delights

Welcome back to A Literary Latte!

I recently (or not so recently because my blogging has been nothing short of abysmal lately) posted a let’s chat discussion post about rating books subjectively vs objectively, and mentioned that I wanted to post more regular reviews to discuss the reasons for my ratings, both to share recommendations and for me to look back on.
SO, I’m finally getting round to that, with a new series I’m calling ‘The Book Briefing’, which is basically where I’ll be sharing reviews (both full and mini) of the books I’ve read lately.
In Chapter 1, we’re starting off with a new 2021 favourite:

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong


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.


These Violent Delights has been on my tbr list since I first heard about its release back in November 2020, and I cannot believe that I took so long to get to it because it was incredible, and one of those truly outstanding 5 star reads.

Set in 1920s Shanghai, These Violent Delights is a Romeo & Juliet retelling, but as someone who hated Romeo & Juliet when I had to read it for school, this book is so much more. The historical fantasy novel follows the heirs to two rival gangs: ruthless and determined Juliette Cai, of the Scarlett gang, and rival of the White Flowers, Roma Montagov. Both gangs are fighting for their territory within Shanghai, with both impending colonialism and a monster creating a madness in the city being equal threats. To try and solve this, previous lovers and should be enemies Roma and Juliette choose to call a truce on the blood feud between them, believing that the two gangs need to work together in order to solve the quickly deteriorating situation in the city. But like all enemies to lovers, there is a fine line between their past/current hatred (and the grief and betrayal intertwined within it) and any tender feelings threatening to arise.

“The problem with hatred was that when the initial emotion weakened, the responses still remained. The clenched fist and hot veins, the blurred vision and quickened pulse. And in such remains, Juliette was not in control of what they might develop into”

Firstly, Chloe Gong wrote these characters, as well as every single side character, so impeccably well. Each person was complex, three dimensional and had a purpose and a backstory. This didn’t just extend to our main characters (Roma and Juliette) but there was also so many side characters that I totally fell in love with. None of them were there purely to assist the MCs but had their own storyline that I would love to learn more about in the sequel. Especially Marshall Seo and Benedikt, Roma’s right hand men who I adore (and am truly hoping that something more happens romantically with those two). Juliette’s cousins Rosalind and Kathleen (who is a Chinese trans girl) were also so multi-layered which was amazing to see, and I’m really glad that they did get small POVs in some of the chapters.

Another aspect that I really loved was the way in which Gong wove discussions about identity throughout the novel and I really loved the portrayal of Juliette’s struggle. Juliette was sent to live in the United States when she was younger and primarily grew up to there, leading to her grappling with feelings of not quite belonging in Shanghai, for example due to the dialect of her language and her name. Details like these just meant that each character was so raw and complex, and this really helped create further depth and layers to the characters. Plus, as a mixed half-Chinese girl I could definitely relate to some elements of Juliette’s emotions here.

What I really could have mentioned first was the prose in this novel because it was absolutely stunning. Gong’s writing was just so dynamic and atmospheric, with descriptive world building that not only developed an aesthetic but also further enhanced the plot and storyline. I’ve found in the past that the world building in some fantasy novels can simply create further confusion and quickly become boring and disjointed due to being overly descriptive – but that was definitely not the case with These Violent Delights. The descriptions, from the depths of the Huangpu river to seedy bars and political headquarters captured the underlying mood of the novel so well and only strengthening the intensity and underlying mood of the novel through how illustrative it was. Incredible.

“Even the land of dreams needs to wake up sometimes

Overall, These Violent Delights, as a debut novel especially, has made sure that Chloe Gong will be an author that I look out for in the future. The way Gong effortlessly weaves descriptive prose together with charismatic characters, the tension of the romance and an intense plot line is just incredible and I cannot wait to read the much-anticipated sequel (Our Violent Ends) in November 2021.

These violent delights have violent ends. And in their triumph, die like fire and powder”

Romeo and Juliet; William Shakespeare (Act 2, Scene 6)
SPOILERS The way my heart dropped when Marshall ‘died’ oh my goodness. I was kind of expecting it having already read R&J (if you haven’t read it one of Romeo’s right hand men Mercutio (the other being called Benvolio) dies) but that didn’t make it any more painful what!! Reading that last chapter was such a relief honestly because I was not prepared. I really hope a relationship blossoms between Marshall and Benedikt in Our Violent Ends though because they are a new OTP. I love them. Oh and I do have a question actually so if anyone has read the book and knows the answer please do fill out the contact form on my page and let me know because I may have missed it. Did we ever find out who the White Flowers spy was or was it just Lord Cai being paranoid?
Content Warnings Violence (inc. murder, death, self-harm and suicide (not of own volition but due to the madness)), insects (if you have a phobia maybe skip this one. definitely made me itchy and uncomfortable at times), colonialism, transphobia, racism, loss of loved ones and grief, disease/contagious sickness)

And that’s a wrap-up on the review! This was definitely a different style of post for me because I’ve never written a more formal review like this so do let me know your thoughts, but I had so much fun writing and really delving into what made the book for me – a 5 star read that I will be continuously recommending from here on out!

Have you read These Violent Delights?
What did you think and will you be picking up the sequel? Have you got any similar book recommendations?


Published by A Literary Latte Blogger & Bookworm

23 thoughts on “The Book Briefing 01- These Violent Delights

  1. Lovely review!! I agree with everything you said here, Juliette and Roma’s dynamic was gold, and the side characters awesome! I’m glad you enjoyed this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. omg! i love this review (and loved reading your discussion earlier as well)! these violent delights is one of my favourite books, like ever, so i’m very happy to see you enjoyed it as much as i did! also just sent you a message through your contact page for the answer to the question you asked in the spoiler section hehe 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ah great review emme!! these violent delights is one of my favourite books for this year and i’m thrilled to see that you loved it too! indeed the themes of identity and also colonialism was woven so well into the story, and ahh the prose was so incredible! so excited for our violent ends!! ❤


  4. ahhh this is such a well-written and wonderful review, Emme!! i loved TVD too and i’m SO excited to read Our Violent Ends!! 🤩 Chloe Gong’s writing is so hauntingly beautiful, and i’m sure she will blow us away once again with the sequel. i too loved how complex and multidimensional all of the characters (including the side characters) were, and i also want to see more of Marshall and Benedikt ahh 🥺

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely review Emme! I’ve seen this book everywhere and your enthusiastic recommendation has made me even more keen to read it. I don’t read much fantasy but this one sounds too good to miss! 📚❤️ X x x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello emme, I just found your blog and I love it already! Tvd is SO hyped by everybody, I can’t wait to read it haha!!
    Oh and I have a book blog too, feel free to take a look 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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