1920s Shanghai is not a place for the fainthearted. The city is split down the middle between two gangs, the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers, and the streets are perpetually stained crimson with blood. 18-year-old Juliette Cai, the heir of the Scarlet Gang and a former American flapper, holds a personal grudge against the White Flowers — after all, its heir gifted her with a love laced with betrayal. But there’s much more to worry about besides the blood feud — foreigners overstepping their bounds, an impending civil war, and something more sinister in the shadows. A monster is coming for them all, and it doesn’t care about which side they’re on.
From the very beginning, the author stole my heart with her vivid writing and unapologetically bold characters. She has a masterful control of pacing, and I adored the sense of suspense and tension she created. What really shined, however, were the side characters. I fell in love with how complex they were and how delightfully human they felt — and it was so easy to imagine them wandering the streets of Shanghai in all their flawed perfection. The only thing that was lacking for me was the romance — I would have liked to see more tension, as well as more turbulence within the relationship. Overall, this was an outstanding novel, and it far surpassed my expectations.