It’s nearly Christmas! It’s officially December, my Christmas tree is up, and I am in the middle of wrapping all my presents! Last month I managed to get through 12 books, which might be a new record for me. They ranged from epic fantasy to rom coms and there wasn’t one that I didn’t enjoy. But. There were two books I read last month that really stood out to me, one a debut fantasy that knocked my socks off and the other a brilliant new fantasy by an author I love. Did any books really stand out for you last month? Let me know in the comments.
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
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.
“Anyone can be the master to a monster should their heart be wicked enough”
“That’s not a necklace, is it?” “It is not Baba.” “That’s garrotte wire, isn’t it?” “Indeed it is, Baba.” “How many other weapons have you concealed on yourself?” “Five Baba.” Lord Cai pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered. “Wide miyi, have mercy on my soul.”
“She…hoped. And hope was dangerous. Hope was the most vicious evil of them all, the thing that had managed to thrive in Pandora’s box among misery, and disease, and sadness-and what could endure alongside thing with such teeth if it did not have ghastly claws of its own?”
The fact that this is a debut is astounding to me. It may be advertised as a retelling of Romeo and Juliet but Gong makes ‘These Violent Delights’ completely her own. I was swept away by the world and characters she created and desperately need to get my hands on book two.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun
In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.
Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.
“The sea herself,” she said. “I am her daughter, and when I’m with my mother”–she exhaled gustily–“nobody fucks with her children.”
“And Grandfather Crow said to First Woman, tell me your stories so that I might know who you are and what you value. If your stories are of the glory of war, I will know you value power. If your stories are of kinship, I know you value relationship. If your stories are of many children, I know you value legacy. But if your stories are of adaptation and survival, of long memory and revenge, then I will know you are a Crow like me.”
“Feyou,” he said, placing her immediately. “But now you are a woman.” “I was always a woman,” Feyou said. “I just needed some time to become who I am.”
This book was epic in every way! A Brilliant fantasy world, unique and diverse characters and one vast plot. I have been a fan of Rebecca Roanhorse for a while now, but ‘Black Sun’ Cemented her as one of my favourite authors.