If you’re like me, you fell in LOVE with Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights when it came out last year. The vicious parts of my heart soared (don’t worry – we all have them) and the homage Chloe pays to Romeo & Juliet is so expertly interwoven into the story that I squealed with joy.
WARNING – if you haven’t experienced the UTTER JOY that is reading These Violent Delights:
- GO READ IT ASAP
- Stop reading here as the below will 1,000% include SPOILERS
TheThese Violent Delights Recap You Need Before You Read Our Violent Ends
Recap Part 1: Sweat, Blood and Violence
It’s 1926 in Shanghai. The city has been divided between the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers – the streets painted red by their never-ending blood feud. The gangs’ once iron clad rule is slowly being chipped away by French and British foreigners carving out their own sections of the city, Nationalists fighting for power, and the rise of the Communist party sweeping through the working class.
Our story centers around Juliette Cai, a former flapper girl who’s returned from her time in America to reclaim her place as heiress to the Scarlet Gang, and Roma Montagov, the mistreated and belittled heir of the White Flowers. When they were fifteen, Juliette and Roma defied the blood feud in a moment of mutual peace and fell in love.
But we wouldn’t have a story if their love was allowed to grow and flourish, right? They were torn apart by betrayal and haven’t spoken since.
Recap Part 2: In Glittering Shanghai, A Monster Awakens
A contagion, a madness, a monster – no one knows for sure. The book opens with a mysterious creature crawling from the Huangpu River and leaving gang members from both sides dead.
The contagion spreads, with the infected ripping their own throats out. But the city is teaming with so much activity and debauchery that this spreading madness is largely ignored. Only Juliette and Roma seem truly interested in finding the source of this disease decimating the gangs’ numbers.
It’s only after Roma’s own sister, Alisa, is infected that Juliette is convinced that she and Roma should work together to get to the bottom of the madness. Even if their families refuse to share information.
As Juliette and Roma begin their joint investigation, they utilize their trusted family and friends to help them. Juliette’s extended family is always maneuvering to try to get closer to her father and the inner circle of the Scarlet Gang. She only trusts her twin cousins, Kathleen and Rosalind, although they too go through the growing pains of being separated for years. Roma has his cousin, Benedikt, and fellow White Flowers member, Marshall (who’s practically family). These characters offer such fabulous representation to the story. Kathleen is a trans girl that is fully accepted by her sister and Juliette. Marshall is queer and his slow burn love story with Benedikt is so endearing your heart might just burst open.
Recap Part 3: Enter the Larkspur
Juliette and Roma’s investigation centers on the Larkspur. He is the mysterious figure that’s appeared amid the madness and supposedly has a cure. They suspect Communist Zhang Gutai of working with the Larkspur. When they go to investigate, they encounter his assistant – Qi Ren. It’s only at the end of the book when the whole crew is working together that they realize it’s actually Qi Ren who’s been made into the monster and is the one spreading the madness (SHOCKER – truly Gong had us dodging left and right on this one).
But! Another twist! Qi Ren may be the monster but it was actually Paul Dexter (a hateful British expatriate who was attempting to peddle a new drug to the gangs to sell) that was the true origin of the madness, with a motive to kill the Communists. He intended to kill Zhang Gutai but instead infected his assistant, Qi Ren, who to Paul’s surprise, transformed into a monster! That monster became the mother host of the madness spreading thousands of replicate insects across the city – inciting the madness.
Recap Part 4: Leave Us on A Cliff Hanger Why Don’t You
Juliette, Roma, and the team succeeds in killing not only smarmy Paul, poor Qi Ren, and the disgusting mother bug! But it doesn’t end there.
Instead, adorable Alisa Montagova miraculously survives the madness only to have Juliette’s power-hungry cousin Tyler Cai threaten her life as he ambushes the squad. Tyler corners Juliette and demands she prove her loyalty to the Scarlet Gang by murdering Marshall. In the end, Juliette shoots Marshall dead right in front of Roma (I cried I’m not gonna lie). To make matters worst, it’s also revealed that Roma was the reason Juliette’s beloved Nanny was killed and Juliette was the reason Roma’s mother was killed.
Our star-crossed lovers, finally reunited, and torn apart once again!
Yet not all is lost! In the glorious epilogue, we’re granted the mercy of knowing Marshall is ALIVE (thank you, thank you for saving that sweet hilarious Korean man boy). Unfortunately, only Juliette knows that Marshall is alive, Roma and Benedikt definitely hate her, and Paul left the city an itty-bitty present:
In the event of my death, release them all…
I love the sound of screaming and mass hysteria to end a book, don’t you?