Well, well, well… if it isn’t me arriving late to the party. My bad.
This is probably one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen and I mean that sincerely. Flowers and swords are 100% my aesthetic.
Juliette is the daughter of the head of the Scarlet gang, and she is on a mission to prove herself to the people in her circle. Roma is the son of the head of the White Roses, and he is on a mission to secure his seat at the table while not turning into his father. The two of them have a past full of heart break and betrayal, but they must join forces to find and stop the sickness that is taking over Shanghai and killing off innocent people and members of their respective gangs.
Set in 1920’s Shanghai, this story weaves a complex web of lies and red herrings. The plot is fast and never ending, the action happening from the first page and continuing on until the end. I will say the book is more plot driven than character driven. Which is fine! I don’t necessarily mind that, what I still need though is something to attach me to the characters in order to care about their story (this is really hard for me to explain succinctly. I don’t mean that I have to like them or relate to them, it just means I need a spark of interest about them. Idk hopefully some of that made sense). I felt like the relationship with Juliette and Roma was… not as expected nor as flushed out as I’d hoped. This is a Romeo and Juliet retelling, but there is barely any romance and it comes in like the last quarter of the book. Again, romance in fantasy isn’t a requirement, but this is a retelling of the most famous romance of all time so… Juliette seemed to be more upset and pining for Roma than Roma was of her and it made this really weird imbalance in scenes where Juliette is talking about her feelings towards him, but you know he’s not having the same conversations in his head. I would like a little more mutual pining please and thank you.
Overall, I think this story could have been in one book. I’m not sure, maybe the second one will be completely out of the box and have more layers and depth to it and make it seem worth it, but as it stands, I feel like the story could have been wrapped up in book one and I would have been very satisfied plot-wise. The thing is, this book is just so beautiful. I keep thinking about how it looks and I haven’t really had that reaction before. Normally I think about the content of the book, relive scenes, think about the characters, but for this one all I keep thinking about is just how pretty it is. Take that as you will. I know that a lot of people love this book so I highly encourage you to pick it up. Plus Chloe Gong is a pretty cool person (at least that’s the vibes I get from twitter) and we should support her.