Synopsis:

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.

Review:

Our Violent Ends has a violent ending, and it is overall the conclusion I was expecting from the sequel of These Violent Delights. However, I can’t say I enjoyed the sequel as much as I enjoyed the first one. 

The sequel has a very slow start but offers a recap of the events at the end of the first book, so you may find this helpful if you, like me, have trouble remembering what happened in a book you read more than one year ago. My main problem with this book is how the plot and the events that bring us to the end developed overall. There are many characters-related plotlines, plus the terrifying mysterious monsters on one side and the politics on the other. The story takes place in Shanghai on the brink of a revolution, with communists fighting against the nationalists. I felt the politics took too much of the plot compared to the first book, and while I get the relevance of the topic, I can’t say I enjoyed those parts. They brought an uneven pace to the plot, sometimes it was too fast and often too slow and underwhelming. On top of that, because of the way everything was structured, I thought Roma was a bit bland and not really a strong character. Juliette, Kathleen and Marshall had a more organised and consistent storyline and they were more engaging characters overall. 

It’s difficult to talk about this book in detail without hinting too much about the ending. I still enjoyed and appreciate Chloe Gong’s dramatic writing style, the descriptions of Shangai and its atmosphere, even if I personally felt a lot the impact of the pandemic in the descriptions related to the illness and monsters. I also appreciate how the writer remained true to her original purpose of bringing this retelling of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliette. I loved Marshall and Benedikt’s arc, as well as Kathleen’s part. 

In the end, I think my main issue is that the monster part was rather a small subplot that reappeared right at the very end to get its long-awaited resolution. There was a lot going on and I couldn’t see the end of everything until the very last chapter. If you loved the first book you still need to read this, it’s a great story, and if you don’t mind historical bits, then it’s a don’t miss for sure.