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.
Juliette is definitely a breath of fresh air in terms of female main protagonists. I think it was the fact that she wasn’t afraid to be the bad person in the situation. When she came back from America she was fully committed to being the heir to the Scarlet Gang and would bully and intimidate her way through the ranks and gain the respect of the others members even though she is a woman.
Roma I felt like we didn’t get to know him enough for me to be invested to him as a character. The book was kind of more focused on Juliette even though it was dual perspective and I don’t feel like I was able to make much of a connection with Roma as I was with her. He is intriguing and the predicament that he finds himself in being in love with Juliette and having his father find out and use that information against him was gripping. But I want to say the whole situation was a little too predictable but then again this is a retelling so I can only expect so much.
The mystery aspect with the monster and finding out who was behind the vaccine and finding the lakspur was tedious. There really wasn’t any urgency until Roma’s little sister was infected and then I feel like everything came together too easily. Like all the factors were there and they just couldn’t see it until it really started to matter.
I liked the fact that we are given insight into the other characters and it just isn’t all about Juliette and Roma. I was also highly invested in the two gangs and the way they differentiated from each other. Learning about the blood feud and why the two gangs are so willing to kill each other when they breach each other’s territories gave much needed depth and excitement.
⭐️ 3/5 stars Just ok, will definitely be continuing on!