Hello! I hope you’ve all had lovely weekends. My weekend was pretty good. I went to a pumpkin patch with some friends this afternoon, and it ended up raining really hard, but it was so much fun! I only have a four day week at school because it’s a grading day, which is really nice, so I’m at least looking forwards to that!
Anyways, I’m really excited for today’s review: it’s for one of my favorite books, and one of my most anticipated releases of this year: Our Violent Ends, by Chloe Gong, the finale to the These Violent Delights duology!
These Violent Delights is a historical fantasy set in 1920’s Shanghai, about the heirs to two gangs, the Scarlets and the White Flowers, who despite a blood feud going back must work together to stop a dangerous monster tearing through the city, infecting people and causing them to rip out their very own throats.
It’s an incredible book, so when I received an advance copy from the publisher I was ecstatic. So, without further ado, I’m going to dive right into my review for this amazing historical fantasy.
Our Violent Ends
Author: Chloe Gong
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: November 16th, 2021
Genre: Young adult, historical fantasy, retelling
*this review is spoiler free for both books in the duology. the synopsis for Our Violent Ends however does contain spoilers for These Violent Delights*
Shanghai is under siege in this captivating and searingly romantic sequel to These Violent Delights, which New York Times bestselling author Natasha Ngan calls “deliciously dark.”
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.
I received a digital advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion and my review.
I don’t even really know where to start with this review. I first read These Violent Delights just a couple of months after it came out, at the very beginning of 2021, and the book hasn’t left my mind since.
The sequel, Our Violent Ends, brought me back into the world of Roma and Juliette, of The Scarlets and the White Flowers, and the the blood feud tearing Shanghai in two.
To sum it up, Our Violent Ends was, well, my violent end. It shattered my heart, and reading it was an emotional rollercoaster that I could not – and didn’t want to- stop. Chloe Gong has masterfully told a tale of deception, love, betrayal and history, and her writing is what brings every moment and every detail to life.
The setting of 1920’s Shanghai is the perfect one for many reasons: Shanghai is overrun with colonials wanting to lay down their own rules, their own laws, wanting to take over the city. The Scarlets and the White Flowers, the two main gangs with enormous control, are in the midst of a blood feud that has been ravaging both sides for generations. Despite their unending hatred for each other, and the fact that the blood feud is at its worst, they face a common enemy.
A monster is tearing through Shanghai, causing innocent (and not innocent) people alike to tear out their own throats. Bloodshed is washing across the cities, and as the casualties pile up, the Scarlets and White Flowers realize that they need to join forces to take down the monster of Shanghai. Because if they don’t, there will be no more people left to rule over.
The LGBTQ+ rep in Our Violent Ends is so well written, and it is so great to see queer representation in a historical novel, since that is something so often left out of the genre. There is the most amazing incredible gay couple you will ever read about, (names shall not be mentioned for risk of spoilers), not to mention the lovely Kathleen Lang, who is transgender, and who has such a heartbreaking and beautiful story. I definitely cried a couple times just reading about the three characters here.
And the characters…
Juliette, Rosalind, Kathleen, Roma, Marshall, Benedict, Alisa, Tyler… Chloe Gong has created such an expansive cast of characters, all unique and distinguishable, and all whom have incredible depth and are written very thoughtfully.
Juliette Cai is the heir to the Scarlet gang: Princess of Shanghai, she will let no one in her way, and knows exactly what she needs to do to protect her people and save the city her family has so proudly stood over for generations. Juliette is such an interesting character. Perfectly morally grey, she is impossible to read, and always has a plan.
Roma Montagov is the only one in the city who could even remotely understand her: the heir to the White Flowers, the Scarlet’s rival gang, Roma has been trained since birth to take on his father’s role as head of the White Flowers.
Tyler Cai is a despicable person, and I spent the majority of the book hating him for every single thing he did. But I can’t write this review without appreciating the layers and layers of complexity in his story, and in the end, I must admit that I pitied him, and had more than a little understanding for why he did everything that he did.
Alisa Montagov has been one of my favorites since first reading These Violent Delights, and wow. Her story does not cease to amazing the reader in the sequel: I clung to every page where she was mentioned, and so looked forwards to reading about her!
This is just a handful of the amazing characters of Our Violent Ends, but I’m not going to go into detail for every single one.
The writing, setting, and characters and fantasy aspects of Our Violent Ends combine to make such an amazing and unique novel that I loved every page of. The ending was just as tragic as you would expect any Romeo and Juliette retelling to be, and I can’t wait to read more by Chloe Gong in the future!
Chloe Gong is the New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights and its sequel Our Violent Ends. She is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she double-majored in English and International Relations. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Chloe is now located in New York pretending to be a real adult.
After devouring the entire YA section of her local library, she started writing her own novels at age 13 to keep herself entertained, and has been highly entertained ever since. Chloe has been known to mysteriously appear by chanting “Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays and doesn’t deserve its slander in pop culture” into a mirror three times.
Our Violent Ends is a beautiful and terrifying novel about forbidden love, an ancient feud, and the power that those who dare to dream can have; to build up, and to tear down everything around them.