TITLE: The Gilded Wolves
AUTHOR: Roshani Chokshi
SERIES? Duology (probably)
GENRE/AGE RANGE: Fantasy & Historical Fiction, YA
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Physical Abuse, Death, Betrayal, Colonialism, Racism (challenged), Loss of a Loved One, Bullying, Anxiety
TAGS: LGBTQIA+ Characters, 2019 Release, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
PUBLICATION DATE: January 15th 2019
“No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.
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.”
Character Guide ⇩
►Séverin → Biracial (Algerian & French), Leader of the group, Tristan’s adopted brother
►Enrique → Biracial, Queer? (bi probably, possibly pan), Filipino, European-Educated, “Journalist, Historian, and Debonaire spy”, Translator
►Laila → Indian (ownvoices rep), 18, dancer, magical abilities, loves baking
►Tristan → White, 16, Forger, Séverin’s adopted brother
►Zofia → On The Autism Spectrum, Engineer, Jewish, Polish, Anxiety
►Hypnos → Black, Queer (bi? pan?), Descendant of Haitian slaves & the son of a French aristocrat
House Guide ⇩
►House Nyx → Crescent Moon
►House Kore → Thorns
►House Vanth → Snake biting its own tail
►The Fallen House → Six pointed star
“Fear grew in places unlit by knowledge”
This book was amazing and so almost nearly perfect I want to cry. I’ve never read anything by Roshani Chokshi before but if this is what her characters are like in her other books, I’ll definitely have to give her other books a try! I feel like this book was the perfect combination of National Treasure + Three Dark Crowns (vibe) + Invictus (group dynamic), and I loved that about it.
These are some of my favourite books and one of my favourite guilty pleasure movies so the fact that this book felt like a culmination of all the best parts of all of them was honestly, such a PERFECT feeling.
It has mystery, puzzles and challenges for the characters to work on, a mysterious and dark vibe and atmosphere and an amazing, “lived-in” group dynamic. If you love a wonderful cast of characters who are all equally important in their team and who are all unique in their abilities and in themselves & you also love a good mystery to solve, I think this is a great book to try out!
“When you are who they expect you to be, they never look too closely. If you’re furious, let it be fuel.”
The Gilded Wolves is set in Paris! I had no idea and it was such an exciting and unexpected bonus since I rarely read a book set outside of the US (aside from fantasy reads).
The world has its flaws and its limits but the atmosphere is there – it has a dark and mysterious but also a strangely elegant vibe to it which is really compelling! The main thing I loved in the book aside from the atmosphere is the team dynamic! You can tell the characters have been working together for a while – they have a great rapport and they work like a well-oiled machine when they get down to it. They don’t always get along with each other but they all have a friendship that goes beyond professional, they all respect each other and appreciate what each person does for the team as a whole. It’s honestly so refreshing to see characters actually get along and RESPECT each other instead of there being a love hexagon and a big drama between half the characters.
“Wolves were everywhere. In politics, on thrones, in beds. They cut their teeth on history and grew fat on war.”
This book has so many things going for it, but the worldbuilding is not one of those things, unfortunately, I think it’s the main thing that brings the book down and is the reason so many people have disliked it. The worldbuilding is poor if I’m being nice about it. I’ll talk about this in a second but, there are some things that are mentioned or never mentioned that you’re just expected to know what they are which really took me out of the story.
One of my first notes that I made while reading about the book was about the worldbuilding, I said that it was pretty poor, the book is very confusing and there;s minimal explanation about the world. Also, and this is a point I really want to stress – I had heard this was Historical Fiction but I had no idea why. It’s never mentioned in the novel what year the story is set in. It says so in the blurb, but I don’t read blurbs so I didn’t know until I was almost finished the book and saw it in a review. I shouldn’t have to read the blurb to find vital information about the story – that should be in the book, no question.
Some things are never explained or they’re explained once and you’re expected to just know what it is from then on. For example, there’s something in the story called a “Sphinx” which is introduced quite early on and I still don’t know what it is. In my notes talking about this I literally wrote “If you miss something, you’re done for” and I completely agree with that after finishing the book – I really do think this is a good book to take notes on, whether you’re going to review it or not.
Some parts of this book were soo easy to read sort of like how I feel Caraval reads, you just get sucked in. But, other parts of the story are really confusing and underdeveloped. I mentioned the worldbuilding before and I think that’s the main issue with this book but, I feel like this needed another read through or round of edits focusing on the actual worldbuilding instead of the plot. I really think that would have improved the book as a whole, so so much.
Also, and this is a minor point, but it bummed me out at the time. The climax of the story is really anticlimactic.
EDIT: I know my “Bad” section is quite long but I really did love this book and will definitely be reading book 2 when it comes out! The worldbuilding is a letdown and is definitely what docked this book a star, but I read this in a few hours in between my classes at Uni, and I found this book absolutely compelling.