I've been waiting for this book since the release news hit book Twitter. The title stemming from my favorite line of all Shakespeare's masterpieces immediately gained my attention, while the blurb and plot kept it for over a year.
When I finally got my hands on it, I couldn't wait to get started. From page one, Gong's lyrical and whimsical prose was captivating and proof of how 'show dont tell' can draw you deep into a long ago world. Using aspects of Romeo & Juliet, without walking within the borders of the original tale, you are transported back to 1920s Shanghai, to a world of gangsters, rivalries and mystery.
For a little more information, check out the blurb: (courtesy of GOODREADS):
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.
Name play stemming from the original characters, new twists to staple features of the tale have you scanning the pages for how this new take will tie in to the story we know, in intriguing and original ways.
Weaving a mythical thread through with the use of a madness and monsters sounded like the perfect rewrite of the world's most iconic love story. And while I love Gong's writing, her characters and the world she created, I couldn't seem to fall in with the monster aspect. It seemed...misplaced. The case of the madness was intriguing, but again...just didn't feel organic to the story when its placed around mysterious insects.
With the follow up, Our Violent Ends, in line for release to close out where the cliffhanger ending left off, I suppose we will see how it all comes together, and intend to get my copy on release day.
Overall, fabulously written and wonderful worldbuilding, but it fell off course with amphibian monsters and rogue insects.