Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: November 17, 2020
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.
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.
A Romeo and Juliet retelling set in Shanghai is the selling point of this book for me. Plot-wise, it follows the same as the original story with a touch of fantasy and a gangster spin. The added spin to the story keeps the plot interesting and has added a new flavor to the story of Rome and Juliet. However, the story did not succeed in making a separate identity from the original, in my opinion.
The main characters, Roma and Juliette, did not appeal to me at all. I am not attached to them as much as I hope I would be. They felt like the stereotypical bad-ass male and female gangster heir. I am not that much of a fan of the side characters as well, but I like them more than the main characters.
What I like about the book is the political power play of both families. But like the heir issue, both main characters have the same struggle to stay on top and not being outshined by the other members of the family. And it seemed repetitive to me.
The strongest part of the story is the mystery of the monster and the disease that spreads in the city. It keeps me from reading the book. I am also satisfied with the twist of how things happened and what has caused it. The culprit was quite unexpected and the author does a good job of not putting too much attention on the culprit, yet making that person relevant anyway.
With that said, the story wraps up nicely and I did not feel the need to read the next book. Oddly, this is the first book in a series that I read that didn’t give me the urgency to pick up or care about the next book in the series.
All-in-all, I have an enjoyable time reading it. But I think the fact that the story did not stray away that much from the original story and made the plot a little predictable takes away the enjoyment from me.
Highly recommend it if you like Romeo and Juliet.
That is all for this review.
Until next time!