Need a Late Summer Read? Look No Further

Need a Late Summer Read? Look No Further

If you are looking for a late summer read to enjoy, look no further than These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong.

These Violent Delights is a Romeo and Juliet retelling written by New Zealand author Chloe Gong. Set in 1920s China, These Violent Delights follows Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov, the heirs to two of Shanghai’s most powerful rival gangs, as they navigate the complications caused by their respective affiliations and their own troubled relationship in order to stop a mysterious and deadly madness that has spread throughout the city.

Although the novel is meant to be a Romeo and Juliet retelling, there are instances where one may forget its Shakespearean origins. The madness in Shanghai, along with Juliette and Roma’s struggle to trace the actual cause of it, create a conflict that extends far beyond the feud between the two rival gangs and into the realm of the supernatural. 

These Violent Delights also immerses readers through the story’s ties to some of the real-life aspects of its historical setting. Commentary on Western imperialism, the political instability that permeated 1920s Shanghai, and the emergence of Communism in China are among the many ways in which Gong juxtaposes reality with fiction to create a narrative inseparable from the world it takes place in. 

Aside from the novel’s unforgettable premise and setting, Gong incorporates a strong supporting cast of characters. Familiar figures like Benedikt and Marshall (Benvolio and Mercutio), along with several newer faces, create a variety of unique stories that will leave readers wanting more, even as they navigate the exciting central conflict of Shanghai’s elusive madness. 


Overall rating: 10/10 

Despite being written as a Shakespeare retelling, These Violent Delights takes readers far beyond the classic tragedy of Romeo and Juliet through its thrilling, supernatural premise, an exciting historical setting, and a lovable cast of supporting characters alongside Roma and Juliette. These Violent Delights is an essential read for those interested in a historical fiction story with a compelling twist.