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.
A VERY intense start, superb setting, great and beyond creative adaptation/retelling, and just the sort of dark gritty read I needed in my life.
Here I was, just starting this book, not expecting it to just throw me into a chaotic addiction from the first chapter, scratch that, the prologue. Silly me.
Romeo and Juliet take a very different angle in this, we have Roma and Juliette, two rival gangsters in Shanghai in the 1920s, and while normally this would have been enough for a retelling, Gong takes it a few steps further.
Roma and Juliette are watching their gang members die, merchants, and just the regular everyday citizens as well. The numbers are mounting at an alarming rate but for some reason, there are only whispers of a monster, of a madness, and the leads are tough to follow. So, what better way to solve the mystery than to have Roma and Juliette work together?
Pacing was great and there was some great character growth and background to Juliette and Roma though I won’t lie, I loved Alisa and Kathleen the most, I would die for them lol.
Gong did a great job developing all these characters, it’s weird because you know which ones are more side characters, and yet they are all somehow in the spotlight. It was a rare feat that I always adore, because I tend to love side characters more than MCs. Each character was well developed, everyone had their own carefully crafted backstory and I am 150% there for that.
I didn’t need a story where I wanted to repeatedly smack Romeo upside his head, and Gong delivered. Instead we got to see Juliette try to not smack him every five minutes, it was pure delight.
Also, my favorite character has always been Benvolio AND IF YOU’VE READ THE PLAY YOU KNOW THAT SHAKESPEARE IS A PUNK AND WE NEVER KNOW WHERE THE HECK BENVOLIO DISAPPEARED OFF TO. PUNK!
Gong gives me an even better Benvolio and the Benvolio and Mercutio interactions I needed in my life without ever knowing. Whereas Shakespeare cheated us, Gong treats us, and tears out our hearts in equal measure. Color me impressed.
LOVED this so much! And I already need a Netflix adaptation ASAP, also, though, WHAT IS THAT ENDING HOW AM I MEANT TO WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT BOOK!?
Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for my honest review.