About the Book
Book #1 in The Gilded Wolves series
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fantasy
Perspective: 3rd person limited, multi-POV
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Format: Hardcover – Book of the Month edition
Length: 384 pages
TW/CW: racism, colonialism, cultural erasure, parent death, sibling death, violence/gore, suicide (mentioned), stillbirth (mentioned), anxiety, grief, depression, abandonment
It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I love multi-POV books written in third person, and therefore I was so excited to dive into The Gilded Wolves series, especially because I’ve heard so many good things about it. While a lot of people compare it to Six of Crows, I don’t think that comparison is necessarily accurate; yes, the two stories share some parallels, but I think they excel in different areas and your reading experience will overall be better if you don’t compare them. Roshani Chokshi’s writing is beautiful and lyrical and will fully immerse you in the magical yet dark world she’s brought to life.
To start, I loved the historical setting of Paris during the Exposition Universelle. Roshani Chokshi did a fantastic job weaving together history and magic for some spectacular worldbuilding that transported me back in time. Plus, as someone who worked in France for two years, I always love being transported there via book. However, I also loved that Chokshi explored the darker side of an event that is usually remembered for its beautiful people and wondrous inventions, reminding us of the ugly truths, including colonisation, cultural erasure, and racism, behind the glittering Exposition Universelle.
I am not an #ownvoices reviewer for this book, but I absolutely loved the diverse representation in the cast of characters and how their unique situations made them relate to the world, the plot, and each other. It was clear Roshani Chokshi did her research and handled each character’s circumstances with love and purpose. Exploring the unique lives of people living through such a major but very nuanced historical event brought depth to the world that allowed me to consider their real-life implications and to further understand the fantasy aspects of the story.
However, even though I loved the representation, I unfortunately did not feel connected with the characters. Their backstories could have been further explored and did not hook me as much as I hoped, and at times their group banter felt stilted rather than natural in a clear attempt to establish rapport or create humor. Their conversations came off as juvenile, yet they acted very much like adults for the sake of the plot; running a hotel, having connections all over Paris, and pulling of near-impossible heists with convenient magical abilities and a variety of nifty gadgets. It felt off-balance and at times I wasn’t sure what tone Chokshi was going for.
The villain, while mysterious and ominous at times, was nothing special, though I’m sure this will be explored more in later in the series. By the end of the book, the plot started to feel repetitive – plan, heist, plan, heist – and I was ready to give this book a solid three stars and move on. That was until I got to THAT ending, which I did not see coming… let me just say that Chokshi is not afraid to throw some punches and take away the plot armor that lowers the stakes in so many other stories. The finale of this book was shocking and crushing and made me want to get my hands on the next book ASAP, and ultimately convinced me to add an extra half-star to my rating.
If you’re read The Gilded Wolves, I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’m hoping to pick up The Silvered Serpents within the next few months just in time for The Bronzed Beasts, coming in September 2021.
About the Author
Roshani Chokshi is the author of commercial and critically acclaimed books for middle grade and young adult readers that draws on world mythology and folklore. Her work has been nominated for the Locus and Nebula awards, and has frequently appeared on Best of The Year lists from Barnes and Noble, Forbes, Buzzfeed and more. Her New York Times bestselling series includes The Star-Touched Queen duology, The Gilded Wolves, and Aru Shah and The End of Time, which was recently optioned for film by Paramount Pictures.
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