Buy This Book
Other books by Chloe Gong
Other books you may enjoy

Juliette thought, “This could ruin her. It could ruin everything. But what mattered now was not Juliette, nor her feelings– it was finding a solution. If the possibility of saving her people meant risking her reputation with them, then it was a sacrifice she had to make.” –These Violent Delights

These Violent Delights

These Violent Delights #1

by Chloe Gong
AR Test

At A Glance
Interest Level

Reading Level
Number of Pages

The year is 1926. Shanghai is a city torn apart by violence and bloodshed. Two rival gangs–the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers–have long been engaged in a blood feud that leads to perpetual chaos in the streets. Nobody knows exactly how this feud started, but neither side shows signs of stopping, preferring instead to fan the flames by continuing to match action for action. 

Not only that, but new, much more obscure powers are also slowly seeping in, threatening to divide Shanghai even further. Growing numbers of Europeans are arriving, attempting to reform the ways of the city in the name of “progress.” There’s also a monster that now lives in the Huangpu River, identified only by its massive form and glittering eyes. In addition, a madness is sweeping through the city like a contagion, possessing ordinary civilians and causing them to suddenly rip their own throats out. 

Caught in all this chaos are Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov. Juliette has just returned from her four years abroad in America. Now, she must assume her rightful place as the heir to the Scarlet Gang. Roma, on the other hand, has been performing his duties as heir to the White Flowers. Despite the feud between their families, and their own complicated history, Roma and Juliette come to realize that everything plaguing Shanghai is interconnected. They must combine powers–secretly, of course–to save their city. After all, they had been lovers once, before betrayal on both sides sent Juliette away. But is their former relationship enough of a buffer between their families’ complicated history to allow them to work together? 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 is a stunning fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This novel takes a familiar story in wildly unfamiliar directions, transposing it onto a landscape that is closer to our modern world while retaining a historical element. This is not the Shakespeare you read in English class – the fantastical elements and action-packed scenes are sure to hook readers from the start. The characters themselves are also compelling because the point of view shifts between characters, allowing readers to get to know both Roma and Juliette and sympathize with them despite their cutthroat actions.  

Because this story has many moving parts to it, with several subplots and historical commentary woven throughout, the pacing of the plot feels off at times – too slow in some parts and not nearly slow enough in others. The prose, too, often oscillates between lush and imaginative, and clunky and awkward. However, the wide array of characters in this book greatly redeems its lacking qualities, and readers will root for Roma and Juliette in their quest to fix both the problems in their city and in their relationship. 

Overall, These Violent Delights is a fantastic debut novel, perfect for teenagers who want a fresh spin on a classic tale. It ends in a dramatic cliffhanger, setting the scene perfectly for its sequel, Our Violent Ends. 

Sexual Content 

  • Several passing references to brothels are made. For example, Juliette comments that, “In Shanghai, it was easier to count the establishments that didn’t double as brothels than the ones that did.”  
  • Roma and Juliette accidentally walk in on a couple who are implied to be having sex. “Juliette opened the first door she came upon. Two distinct yelps of surprise sounded as light seeped into the tiny room. Juliette squinted and saw a man with his pants down. ‘Get out,’ she demanded. ‘This is my room,’ the woman on the bed protested.”  
  • Roma and Juliette kiss in a private room. “Juliette hooked her legs around his and twisted her hips until Roma was the one flat on his back and she loomed over him, kneeling on the sheets . . . his hand was moving higher and higher, brushing her calf, her knee, her thigh. Juliette’s palm sank lower, until it was gripping the space underneath the smooth collar of his white shirt . . . They both gave in at once. Roma’s kiss was just as she remembered. It filled her with so much adrenaline and exuberance that she could burst. It made her feel too ethereal for her own body, as if she could tear out of her own skin.”  


  • A group of Scarlets and White Flowers get ready to fight. “In a blink: guns upon guns. Each arm raised and steady and trigger-happy, ready to pull.” The police stop them before any further violence ensues. 
  • Juliette watches a man possessed by the madness kill himself. Juliette “saw the man thrashing on the ground, his own fingers clawing at his thick neck. . . most of his nails were already buried deep into muscle. The man was digging with an animal-like intensity–as if there was something there, something no one else could see crawling under his skin. Deeper, deeper, deeper, until his fingers were wholly buried and he was pulling free tendons and veins and arteries. In the next second, the club had fallen silent completely. Nothing was audible save the labored breathing of the short and stout man who had collapsed on the floor, his throat torn into pieces and his hands dripping with blood.” Many similar scenes occur throughout the novel. 
  • Juliette verbally provokes her cousin, Tyler, who physically attacks her. “Quick as a flash, Tyler slammed her into the wall. He kept one hand scrunched against her left sleeve and the rest of his arm splayed against her clavicle, pushing just enough to make a threat.” Juliette retaliates in self-defense. “Her right hand jerked up–fist clenched, wrist hard, knuckles braced – and made centered, perfect contact with her cousin’s cheek . . . Then Tyler stumbled, letting go of Juliette and whipping his head to look at her, hatred stamped into the hollows of his eyes. A red slash buried the line of his cheekbone, the result of Juliette’s glittering ring scraping through skin.”  
  • Juliette remembers an explosion caused by the White Flowers that killed many of her family members. “Her ears were screeching – first with the remnants of that awful, loud sound, then with the shouting, the panic, the cries wafting over from the back, where the servants’ house was. When she hurried over, she saw rubble. She saw a leg. A pool of blood. Someone had been standing right at the threshold of the front door when the ceiling caved in.” 
  • Juliette has a cutthroat reputation. “[The Scarlets] were killers and extortionists and raging forces of violence, but as the rumors went, Juliette Cai was the girl who had strangled and killed her American lover with a string of pearls. Juliette Cai was the heiress who, on her second day back in Shanghai, had stepped into a brawl between four White Flowers and two Scarlets and killed all four White Flowers with only three bullets. Only one of those rumors was true.”  
  • Roma tries to accost Juliette with a gun to her forehead, and Juliette defends herself. “Before Roma could so much as blink, her right hand came down hard on his right wrist, twisting his gun-wielding hand outward until his fingers were unnaturally bent. She slapped down at the gun with her left hand. The weapon skittered to the ground. Her jaw gritted to brace for impact, Juliette twisted her foot out from behind Roma’s and jerked it against his ankles–until he was falling backward and she followed, one hand locked on his neck and the other reaching into her dress pocket to retrieve a needle-thin knife.” Roma surrenders, stopping the fight. 
  • To get information, Juliette physically attacks someone with a garrote. “Madame squawked when Juliette pulled the garrote wire tight, her fingers flying up to scrabble at the pressure digging into her skin. By then the wire was already wrapped around her neck, the micro-blades piercing in.” Madame survives this, left with a bleeding cut on her throat. 
  • Roma participates in a sparring match that starts out as a game, but takes a turn when he realizes that his opponent, Dimitri, has a blade. “Dimitri kicked out and Roma took the hit. A fist flashed in his periphery, and in his haste to get away, Roma dodged too hard, overjudging his balance and stumbling. Dimitri struck again. A flash of the blade: a slit opened on Roma’s jaw.” The match ends when Roma is declared the winner after he “[reaches] out and [grabs] a fistful of Dimitri’s shoulder length black hair…[slams] a knee right into his nose, [takes] his arm and twists backwards until Roma [has] a grip on his neck and a foot stomping down on the back of his knees.”  
  • A British soldier draws his gun on Roma and Juliette, and Roma shoots him in self-defense. “A bang sounded from the space between them. Juliette immediately whirled around to catch the British tail collapsing where he stood, a bright-red spot blooming on his chest.”  
  • Marshall, Roma’s friend, hits Juliette, and she attacks him back. “From his seat, Roma bolted up and shouted, ‘Mars!’ but Juliette was already pushing Marshall back, her throbbing jaw giving way to anger and her anger intensifying the pulsating pain making its way to her lip.” The match ends abruptly when Marshall starts laughing, and Juliette helps him to his feet; this altercation ends as quickly as it began, and Marshall and Juliette work together for the remainder of this scene. Neither is seriously injured.  
  • Juliette shoots the man she and Roma believe to be the cause of the madness, Zhang Gutai. “Juliette fired. Zhang Gutai looked down, looked at the blotch of red blooming on his white shirt.” Zhang Gutai dies as a result of this wound. 
  • Juliette attempts to shoot the monster in the Huangpu River. “Juliette aimed her gun and fired – again and again and again in hopes that it could kill the monster, or, at the very least, slow it down – but the bullets bounced off its back like she had shot at steel.” 
  • Paul, a British man, tries to drown Juliette when she discovers a secret. Paul “grabbed a fistful of her hair and stuck her head in the water . . . Juliette bucked and kicked, harder and harder with no avail.” She gets away by stabbing a needle into his wrist.  
  • Juliette kills the river monster’s human host, Qi Ren. “Juliette raised the pistol. Her hands were shaking. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. Once again, she pulled the trigger. The bullet struck his heart. The bullet was as loud as the bang at the end of the world. But Qi Ren’s sigh was soft. His hand came up to his chest gingerly, as if the bullet were nothing but a heartfelt compliment. Rivulets of red ran down his fingers and onto the wharf, tinting his surroundings a deep color.” 
  • Juliette shoots Marshall and his “head lolled back. He was motionless. Motionless.” It is later revealed that Juliette and Marshall staged this “murder” and Marshall is alive.   

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • Several references to opium are made: for example, the narrator describes fighting between the Scarlet Gang and the White flowers as “more commonplace in heady Shanghai than the smoke of opium wafting from a thick pipe.”  
  • One key plot point is that the British supply lernicrom, a fictional opiate, to various groups. 
  • Benedikt, Roma’s cousin, drinks vodka at a bar. “Roma lifted the cup in front of Benedikt and took a cautionary sniff. His cousin snatched it from his hands. ‘Don’t drink that,’ Benedikt warned.” 
  • Roma and Juliette play a drinking game with someone they want to get information from: one shot in exchange for one question. Roma gets drunk enough to fall down; Juliette gets “woozy enough to see in doubles but not enough to lose balance.” 


  • None 


  • None 

Spiritual Content 

  • None 
Other books by Chloe Gong
Other books you may enjoy

Juliette thought, “This could ruin her. It could ruin everything. But what mattered now was not Juliette, nor her feelings– it was finding a solution. If the possibility of saving her people meant risking her reputation with them, then it was a sacrifice she had to make.” –These Violent Delights

Latest Reviews