I don’t know what to feel or think.
Even after two months of obsessively agonizing over the devastating ending of this duology… fun!
It draws something so visceral and raw out of you, a response so palpable that it’s hard not to notice what this book is doing to you (causing your mental health to slowly deteriorate before your eyes!) In other words: I am hopelessly & utterly obsessed—but let’s face it, I never stood a chance.
After the cliffhanger that was These Violent Delights, I could barely contain my excitement when I managed to secure an ARC of the second book. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this was better than the first one, but still managed to exceed my expectations (and make me sob).
Chloe Gong // November 16, 2021
The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.
After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.
Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.
Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinion in any way.
All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.
With the bar already set high, as the finale to this notorious duology, I had high expectations. And that, everyone, is how you end a series. It starts off with a bang, ends in an explosion. I had no regrets reading through this twice to get that unimitable sense of exhilaration.
For reasons unknown, I never felt particularly attached to Juliette in the first book, but she made a full redemption in my eyes, which was satisfying to see. Juliette and her city both have been so consumed by anger and violence that she has rarely known peace. She has a constant burgeoning itch in her fingers to whip out her knife and start stabbing or flick the safety off her pistol and start shooting, especially when it comes to her loved ones, which I admire but also fear.
And yet wasn’t that the root of all hatred? Wasn’t that what made it so vicious? There was never a reason. Never a good one. Never a fair one.
Chloe Gong has delicately crafted a character so brilliant that it’s almost impossible not root for her. She peels the world like an apple and shows us all its bleeding parts, all our flaws reflected in the lives of the people of a single city. And what I truly love about her is how she will do anything to get what she wants and how loyal she is to her gang and to her family. She uses those who have wronged her as a motive for vengeance even if it’s not always the best thing to do.
I truly hate how she runs around chasing her stupid little Roma and making her stupid little decisions and hitting me right where it hurts. Clearly. we love our stupid morally grey Asian characters. But I, for one, will take them any day. Her determination to fight for love is inspiring to see, and her character development is so phenomenal. She has been taught all her life to harden her heart, to trust only herself, but what she really needed to learn was to soften her heart, to let love in, because that is what the world needs more of.
I was over the moon when I realized Gong’s writing is still as immersive as ever. She is such a talented storyteller and I will never ever get tired of her writing. It’s so vivid and contains that unparalleled vibrancy that delicately lingers, its hands grasping, pressing indelibly onto your mind. She writes with the force of a city and that unmistakable voice of a writer truly experienced in her craft. Nostalgia for the past sets up the veins of this story, and fiery passion keeps it going.
“A rose is a rose, even by another name,” he whispered. “But we choose whether we will offer beauty to the world, or if we will use our thorns to sting.”
And so this concludes the duology of two doomed lovers in the midst of a city determined to tear them apart, this story fated to flow alongside a haunting tale of imperialism. It’s so bittersweet to say goodbye, and I truly hope that Shanghai will hum to the tune of debauchery once more.