by Chloe Gong
Published by Simon & Schuster
Release Date: November 17th 2020
Genres: Diverse, Fantasy, YA
Format Read: ARC
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.
Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This book was a tad slow for me. It took a while for me to connect with the characters. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the plot and the writing, but the characters didn’t draw me in as quickly as I expected. However, despite that, I believe this is a solid debut and Romeo and Juliet retelling.
Retellings can be tricky. There has to be a balance between new content and the story the audience knows and loves. I think Chloe Gong maintained this balance exceptionally well. She successfully created her own magical, unique spin on a popular and well-known story! That’s no easy feat. It was fun to make connections between her version of the story and the original–especially with the characters!
Where this book truly shined was the way the author depicted colonialism. Throughout this book, we see Juliette’s increasing frustration with all of the white foreigners moving to Shanghai with plans of taking it over. It was heartbreaking to read how helpless the people of Shanghai felt against the foreigners. Shanghai was their home, yet they could do nothing to protect it from people who sought to make it their own. I also loved how the author wrote about Juliette’s struggle to fit in. Juliette lived in the US for several years, which has caused her to question how she fits in in her homeland of Shanghai.
In conclusion, I recommend that everyone give this book a try. I can see why so many people loved it. I’m eager to see what happens in the next book!
Hi, I’m Skye! I’m a college student by day and a bookstagrammer and book blogger by night. 😉 I’m also fluent in the language of sarcasm, so my kryptonite in any book is great witty banter.
Check out my Instagram account if you want to see my latest book obsessions! Also, feel free to reach out to me on social media if you ever need someone to fangirl with! I love meeting new bookish friends. 🙂