This review contains spoilers for These Violent Delights, the preceding book in this duology.
What’s this? A single book review in one post?
I usually don’t write reviews for this column that are of just one book. Lately, my book reviews have been compiled thematically, but I have nothing else that is historical, fantasy or Chinese to review, nor do I have any Shakespeare retellings, and in any case, Our Violent Ends deserves its own post.
As the conclusion to Chloe Gong’s first duology, a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920’s Shanghai with gangsters and monsters, Our Violent Ends has a lot to juggle. These Violent Delights, the first book in this series, left off on a massive cliffhanger; heroine Juliette Cai faked the murder of Roma Montagov’s best friend, Marshall, in order to keep Roma and his cousin Benedikt safe. Now, months later, all seems to have returned to normal — until a monstrous disease comes back to the city.
Even if you know the entirety of Romeo and Juliet by heart, Our Violent Ends will still surprise you. Without directly spoiling anything, there are many twists on the plot of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, enough to leave anybody wondering what will happen at the end. Side characters not in the original play also shine in this book, particularly Juliette’s cousin Kathleen and Roma’s sister Alisa.
I am absolutely not an expert on Chinese history, despite being Chinese (my mom is actually from Shanghai), but the incorporation of the Kuomintang and Communists in this story feels seamless and makes complete sense. You can tell Gong has done massive amounts of research on the time and place to make the story as accurate as possible.
I can’t stop thinking about Our Violent Ends, particularly about the epilogue, and that’s why I’m extremely grateful Gong is writing a spinoff duology (set in the 30’s!). Either way, I’m ridiculously excited to see more from one of the most talented historical fantasy writers in our generation.
And I’m still having a lot of feelings about that ending.
Our Violent Ends will be released on November 16, 2021 in the US and Canada. I received a digital advanced copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.