Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
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.
This mesmeric fantastical reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet nestles the star-crossed lovers renamed Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai in an atmospheric mid-1920s Shanghai, where the Russian Montagovs, head of the White Flowers, and the Chinese Cais, head of the Scarlet Gang, have been embroiled in an age-old blood feud. Freshly returned from New York City, 18-year-old Juliette struggles to be respected as the heir of the Scarlets, since cultural sexism deems her hotheaded cousin Tyler, also 18, more worthy of deference. Meanwhile, Roma, 19, has never regained favor in his father's eyes after the bloody attack that wrested Roma from Juliette's good graces four years previously. But with colonial and communist tensions rising within Shanghai and "a strange madness" linked to a rumored river monster compelling men on every side to tear out their own throats, former lovers Roma and Juliette must reunite and surmount the bad blood between them if they have any hope of saving their city. Gong's incisive retelling imbues a thoroughly modern richness, with arresting prose and an inclusive cast. A lush, wholly original debut that will satiate Shakespeare aficionados and draw those seeking an engrossing, multifaceted historical fantasy. Ages 14 up. \n
Customer ReviewsSee All
If you haven’t read this book yet, what are you doing with your life. Of course I could go on and on but the sooner I finish this review, the sooner I can get back to the book. 5 stars so far. No doubt about it.
Interesting premise but mixes too many genres
The book started out interestingly with giving a sense of time and place; but the supernatural component seemed ridiculous. The book became very tedious and I ended up skimming the last third. No ending, just a lead in for a sequel. Definitely won’t be reading it!
Best Debut of 2020
I love Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov so much!