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.
This book had been on my TBR for quite a long time now but could never bring myself to pick the book up. In fact, I have not been reading any YA for quite some time. My husband got us a paperback at Istanbul Airport and having a physical book in my hands is a good enough reason to start it. Especially if I am sharing the read with my husband. So, yes, we read it together.
Before starting the book, I knew that it is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Now, I am not much of a fan of Romeo and Juliet to begin with so I was not really sure where I stood with this book or what to expect. Because, I had heard great praise for Chloe Gong and the book.
The beginning and world building has been intriguing and I wanted to read in every free moment that I had. After all, I had to catch up to husband.
The characters grew until the last but there were so many times I wanted to smack them. Most of the time it felt as if the kids were trying to act like they were adults. Now their behaviour may be completely OK for the time they are in and the circumstances they are surrounded in, but as a woman in her early thirties, for me they are kids playing at being adults. Behaving as if they have the burden of the world on their shoulders, sometimes it was too much to believe. While I say that, let me also add that at no point did I feel like not continue to read the book. The plot is too intriguing for that.
The story was medium paced throughout but there were places in the middle of the book where the story provided irrelevant information. Persevering through that as my husband and I read alternating scenes, we reached the good part. We predicted some parts and they turned out exactly the same. The end of this book kind of seemed anti climactic to me and that is why it is not a 5 stars for us.
But the cliff hanger that it ended on, makes me want to pick up the sequel ASAP. I just need some more time in my life for this but real soon!