Set in sophisticated Paris 1889 with foreboding grim lurking in its wake, Severin Montagnet-Alarie, hotelier and heir to the House of Vanth, aims to claim his inheritance and don the forged ring rightfully his. Determined to own his share and protect those he love, he will stop at nothing even if it means going against the Order of Babel. The Gilded Wolves follows Severin and his crew maneuver through catacombs, exclusive hideouts, and glamorous gatherings as they comb through artifacts using their wits and guts amidst civilization’s impending doom.
I don’t even know how to begin reviewing this book. Fantasy and historical fiction. Arts and factual accounts molded in a gripping tale of intriguing, marginalized characters navigating the world as they brave through that “what” that marginalized them. Roshani Chokshi had me sold at this premise. There is beauty woven in this book in the guise of physical applications, chemical reactions, numerical puzzles, and logical formulas — things that I have a definite proclivity of. This is reminiscent of Brown’s The Da Vinci Code or even Sheldon’s The Doomsday Conspiracy. I have always found fascination in riddles and problem solving that I find this story very enjoyable. *cough* Sator square *cough* Fibonacci sequence *cough*
On hindsight, certain readers may find this too complex. As it is anchored in the story of the Tower of Babel which lead to divergence and the start of varied civilizations of the world, it is teeming with historical accounts such as Egyptian myths, Chinese cleromancy, the ways of the Inca’s, Napoleon’s rule, biblical references, and more. If you are not immersed in these, you may find it distracting from the main plot.
Although fact, contrary to what I have said, I believe Chokshi was able to brew the perfect formula in her writing to strike a soothing balance. Heists and discovery plot-lines like this can become dry from the heavy data dumping as expounding information is its backbone to be effective. I loved that she used a poetic style with much attention to detail which I think would not confuse the reader. The political and magic systems were also laid out clearly. Forging is a unique concept. I am engrossed as it blurred the lines of magic, art, and science. I might be crazy but I believe it is possible. After all, not everything that we can’t explain and understand is hoax.
I also appreciated that Chokshi eased readers into the character arcs slowly. I hate when authors squeeze introductions in the first two chapters which make it feel like reading a bio-data. These characters were carefully presented and their histories richly crafted. Speaking of characters, this book is brimming with diversity. I love every single one of them and am a fan of this representation.
- Severin – The mastermind. Goal-oriented and a passionate friend. I feel that nurturing the chip on his shoulder due to his past is slowing him down in most occasions. Nonetheless, I appreciated the chapters where we get a glimpse of his fathers and learn what made him what he is now.
- Laila – An Indian dancer, baker, and fierce woman possessing an ability in psychometry which she uses in gathering intel. She will do everything for her friends while finding answers to whom and what she really is.
- Tristan – He is such a cinnamon-roll. One would want to just protect this broken lovable soul. e is Severin’s sworn brother who loves plants and animals. He uses his forging affinity on plants and cellulose-like materials in crafting tools the crew uses on their acquisitions.
- Hypnos – Patriarch of the House of Nyx. French-Haitan. Playful and flirtatious. He is just gay as he can be which I adore so much. “Oh shiny things. My weakness.”
- Enrique – The group’s Spanish-Filipino, bisexual historian. Despite lacking a forging affinity, his breadth of knowledge and wits is incomparable. I particularly like his snarky remarks and his jokes are hilarious. (I’d let him catalog me if he wants to hahaha).
- Zofia – One of my favorites. She is Polish, Jewish, and an intelligent trailblazer with her inventions through her metal forging affinity. I just love how frank she is with her observations and her lack of social skills is quite endearing to me.
Although fantasy is at its core, this book slithered through relevant topics of racism, antisemitism, self-image, mental health, what one can do to hold power in one’s hands, and a glimpse of the unglamorous side of the world.
"Wolves are everywhere. In politics, on thrones, in beds.
They cut their teetch on history and grew fat on war.
Not that Severin was complaining.
It was just that, like other wolves, he wanted his share."
The Gilded Wolves is the perfect title for this well-paced, unputdownable read. This is a reminder that despite the beauty in all that glitters, there is a “want”, a wolf within everyone and it is up to us whether to answer to its call. This book is perfect for readers looking for action, friendship, diversity, and the flagship of being true to your skin despite the world’s raised eyebrows. Indeed, this is a logarithmic spiral of an adventure based on, I daresay, the perfect ratio.
I was provided an eARC by Macmillan Distribution in exchange for an honest review. Ideas and opinions in this review are all mine and are not influenced by neither publisher nor author. I would also like to thank The Royal Polar Bear Reads and Wanderer in Neverland for hosting this blog tour.
- FORMAT: E-Arc from Macmillan distribution
- PUBLISHER: Wednesday Books
- ISBN-10: —-
- ISBN-13: 978-1-250-14456-0 (ebook)
- RATING: 4.5 stars
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen and A CROWN OF WISHES. Her middle grade debut, ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME, released April 3, 2018 from Disney/Rick Riordan Presents. The sequel, ARU SHAH AND THE SONG OF DEATH is slated to release April 30, 2019. Her next young adult novel, THE GILDED WOLVES, is slated for January 15, 2019. Chokshi’s work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She was a finalist in the 2016 Andre Norton Award and the Locus Top Ten for Best First Novel. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.