I started this book sometime last summer, but as always it became overdue and I had to return it before I could finish it. Such is the way of a bookworm’s life. It was definitely a book that I wanted to get back to — I found myself thinking about it constantly lol. Then came junior year of college, so craziness ensued.
I finally got back to it in January when I got it for Christmas, and since then I’ve been slowly chipping away at in. And let me tell you, literally the same day that I finished it I ordered the second book and am now excitedly waiting until I finish my current read (a reread of The Screaming Staircase) to start that one.
What was so good about it? I loved the setting and the promise of the book. I mean, a 1920s fantasy book set in Shanghai? Um, yes please. And it definitely lived up to the hype. Juliette, one of our narrators, spent a large portion of her life in New York in the states, so she brings through a lot of what is traditionally thought about from the 20s, which is flapper dresses, heels, and sass. Yeah, I loved Juliette. 😛
One of my favorite things, though, was the dynamic between Juliette and Roma. The book is a Romeo and Juliette retelling (if you couldn’t tell by their names lol), so there’s obviously a lot of tension between them, both passionate and hate. LOVE. But that aside, I loved that Juliette was the ruthless mobster of the two of them. They both are the eldest children of the two biggest mobs in Shanghai, but they both see their positions — and their outlooks on gang control and violence — very differently. Juliette’s first instinct is to kill and ask questions later. Roma is very much anti-violence and believes that things can be solved diplomatically. Of course, they both come head-to-head with choices that go against their beliefs and mwahaha it is quite enjoyable.
Another thing is the family bonds. Roma has a younger sister, Alysa, that he adores and would do literally anything for, while they are both super distant from their father. Juliette is fairly close with her parents, but best friends with two of her cousins. In a book that’s filled with violence and political intrigue, it was super sweet to have meaningful ties to break up all of the death and stuff.
The book itself could get pretty gruesome. There were a couple descriptively gross scenes that roiled my stomach, but in a good way if that’s possible. 😛 There’s also political intrigue that was (almost) accurate to history, with two main gangs (Roma’s White Flowers and Juliette’s Scarletts) as well as other nations coming in and trying to take a slice of the Shanghai pie. It never got overly saturated, and that’s coming from someone who hates anything political.
So, in short, I absolutely adored this book. It broke me out of a reading slump (wahooo!) and was a great mix of fantasy and historical fiction. Oh, and the tense romance and forbidden love.
What are your guys thoughts on historical fantasies?? They are one of my absolutely favorite genres, hands down. Has anyone read this series yet? Because, if you have, I am more than ready to fangirl with you. 😛 Question of the day: What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?