Desert Isle Keeper
Our Violent Ends
I have been blown away. Chloe Gong set a high bar with These Violent Delights, a 1920s fantasy version of Romeo and Juliet which transports the story’s action to Shanghai. Our Violent Ends is the first book’s equal. Gong’s talent remains unstinting. You need to read this book.
It’s now 1927, and Juliette Cai is a wanted woman. Back in Shanghai with her cousin, Kathleen, after hiding out in New York for a time, Juliette is pleased to note that her world has once again settled into peace after the violent, supernatural murders which had once plagued the city. Juliette has made a great sacrifice to ensure this peace by pushing the man she loves away. She has faked the murder of Marshall Seo, best friend of her former lover, Roma Montagov, in order to save Roma’s life and protect him from the Montagov/Cai blood feud. And Roma is devastated, for he believes Juliette to be Marshall’s killer.
The two encounter each other at a silent film showing, and peace is broken by an assassination attempt. Juliette soon learns how embittered Roma has become; the gentle man she once knew is now willing to kill her in a show of revenge, and he is even more dedicated to the White Flowers, his family’s gang.
Roma has been living in a world of hurt since Marshall’s death. Benedikt, his cousin and Marshall’s lover, has not forgiven him for Marshall’s apparent death, and his family demands vengeance of the Scarlet Gang for the bloodletting. With Juliette back in town, this suddenly seems possible, no matter how much Roma still loves her.
But just as it seems the two lovers will kill one another, they simultaneously receive a blackmail note, informing them that while the previous novel’s villain had one monster, their new blackmailer has five. Forced to work together to keep the peace in a city on the verge of revolution, Juliette and Roma must try to track down this person before they unleash chaos upon Shanghai and destroy it for good.
What a stonking good story! If any book series released in the past few years deserves its own movie/TV show, then it’s the These Violent Delights series. Mixing romance, tragedy, mob action and fantasy elements up with liberal daubs of gore and a well-researched twenties setting, one cannot help but be wowed.
Everything about this book is good, impressive, intensely written. Everything about it leaves the reader with their jaw on the floor in utter astonishment. And everything about it is perfection.
Roma and Juliette are not perfect people, but they are incredibly enjoyable and easy to root for. Marshall and Benedikt’s romance is also incredibly breathtaking – you will ache for them. Rosaline, Tyler and other secondary characters are used perfectly, in ways I will not reveal lest I spoil the soup.
The world-building and research are both uniformly flawless. It’s so easy to sink into Gong’s world, to allow oneself to disappear. The prose is edible, the action incredibly engrossing.
I won’t tell you who – if anyone – meets their maker in Our Violent Ends; I’ll only tell you that what does happen is thrilling, heart-breaking, fitting and saddening. Read this book. You will not find a finer volume on the market.
Note: Despite the YA classification, this book contains plenty of gore, violence, torture and blood, along with parental abuse.