We’ve all heard of the classic story of Romeo and Juliet, one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays, however, Chloe Gong brings to life an entirely new story based upon these loved and adored forbidden romancers.
In 1926 Shanghai, a blood feud between two gangs rules the country.
Juliette Cai, daughter of Lord Cai, the leader of the Scarlet Gang, is destined to become the heir of her family’s gang. For four years she had been sent away to America, and now she has returned to her role of flapper girl and heir of the gang, ready to run the streets red with White Flower bodies. With her two cousins by her side, Juliette is ready to take on the world.
Roma Montagov, the heir of the White Flowers, a rival gang, has spent his past four years overcoming the horrific death of his mother and dealing with the wrath of his father. He navigates the streets of Shanghai with his two best friends, Marshall and Benedikt, who will stop at nothing to support Roma and his rise to become the heir.
All of this changes, however, when a contagious illness spreads through the streets of Shanghai. Both gangs are falling apart, their people caught up in the deadly illness that causes people to rip out their own throats.
When the monster that controls the virus hits close to home for both Juliette and Roma, the two must put aside their differences and work together to come up with a solution to save their people and Shanghai. With a forbidden romance and tensions rising, can Juliette and Roma work together to save their beloved country or will the monster take everything that they love from them?
“The stars incline us, they do not bind us.”
Juliette Cai was a character that I immediately found myself enjoying. Her tough and strong exterior gave her the impression that she could take on the world and her confidence was unwavering. I loved following her on her journey across Shanghai as she navigated the differences between hatred and lust. It was amazing to see someone as strong as Juliette still be brought to her knees by a few tricks. She was a character that showed endless strength and courage and she brought so much to the book that I found myself loving every second of her chapters.
Roma Montagov was no different. He was endlessly strong and the tension between him and Juliette was amazing. I loved seeing him struggle around her and how he seemed to be a completely different person compared to who he was around his best friends. He had his resources and as he took charge of the investigation for the sake of his sister, I found myself loving him even more.
The tension between Juliette and Roma was constantly high and I loved seeing their relationship develop and grow. Their intense backstory was almost a mystery for the majority of the book and once both of their intentions were clear, it was easy to see that Roma and Juliette are meant to be despite the fact that their love is forbidden.
Roma’s best friends, Marshall and Benedikt were absolutely hilarious and I couldn’t help but want more from them. The brief glimpses of Marshall and Benedikt’s lives were some of my favourite parts of the books. They had a genuine friendship and maybe something more that I can’t wait to see more of in the next book!
Juliette’s cousins also played a huge role in this book. Rosalind and Kathleen were amazing to follow and watch as they journeyed through Shanghai to help Juliette on her mission to save her country. Kathleen’s story is super interesting and I hope we get a bit more insight into that in the next book. It came as such a shock to me, especially since she seems like a character that’s so in touch with herself and comfortable in her own skin.
1926 Shanghai was the absolute perfect setting for this book. I love how they had all of these language barriers between certain characters, how the meaning of actually talking meant so much more to each character, and how they really needed to spend time together to be friends. I love how it impacted the story and how they had to work together in close proximity.
Chloe Gong’s debut novel was absolutely incredible. I didn’t have many expectations going into the book because I hadn’t read any of her books before, however, all of the reviews I had seen had been positive so I had high hopes and she totally lived up to her reputation. I do have to say that the writing began a bit slow because I wasn’t used to the intense writing style that Gong stuck to throughout the book, but once I understood it a bit better, it was amazing and sucked me right in!
This was an absolutely incredible debut novel by Chloe Gong that I can’t wait to read more of. The story was addicting, fast-paced, and exciting. The tension between all of the characters had me on the edge of my seat! I finished the book in a little over a day or so and I can’t wait to read more!