*Please note, I have not yet read book 2 and would appreciate no spoilers for it please!
I haven’t been captivated in a book just from the first page alone in a very long time. The Gilded Wolves broke this pattern, leaving me anxious to continue on in the story to see where the plot goes. To put this review simply, The Gilded Wolves is a masterpiece, carefully constructing a world that is both magical and realistic, with a band of characters that is simply a delight to read about. It’s honestly a very strong contender for my favourite book of the year.
Set in a darkly glamorous world The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence and dangerous but thrilling adventure.
Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts:
An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.
Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive*
*Summary from Roshani Chokshi’s website!
Title: The Gilded Wolves
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: YA Fantasy
Trigger warnings: Death, Death mention, Spiders, Blood, Racism, Slavery, Cultural erasure, Suicide, Blood
Set in France 1889, The Gilded Wolves transports readers into a world of magic and deceit, leaving you on the edge of your seat as the plot thickens. I picked this book up because a lot of my friends recommended it to me, knowing I loved historical fiction and magic. My friends must know my reading taste very well, because this book ticked every box. Not only was the plot gripping, but the characters (which are arguably the best part about this book, but more about that later) are so well developed and likeable, you instantly root for them from the first chapter.
Chokshi has a writing style that is both lush but simplistic, allowing you to perfectly imagine the settings they constructed. It’s rather hard to put into words how wonderfully this book is written without simply saying “read it yourself to see”, but Chokshi really does make writing a high fantasy heist novel seem effortless. Everything is carefully plotted and placed, dropping hints throughout, but not to the point of it being obvious. It’s truly, like I said, a masterpiece. This book gets a lot of comparison to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, but I can’t comment on the similarities between the two as I haven’t read it, and probably never will. From what I can gather from being an active member of the book community, The Gilded Wolves is significantly more diverse, which is one of the best parts about this book.
Our protagonists are a diverse and interesting group of characters, all of whom were a joy to read. While they all had their own motivations and backstories, it was carefully weaved with the overarching plot to make it an enthralling and interesting read. As more information was revealed about our characters, the more invested I became in seeing them achieve their goals. It’s very refreshing to read characters in young adult fantasy having independent motivations aside from the main plot, it creates a more interesting reading experience. Our band of characters include Séverin, a half French half Algerian man set on getting back his rightful inheritance, Laila, an Indian dancer on a mission to find something that is lost, Zofia, a Polish genius who is insanely talented at puzzles, Enrique, a Filipino and Spanish historian who has an intellect that could rival Zofia, and finally Tristan, Séverin’s brother who is really too good for this world.
These characters were honestly one of the highlights of this novel, their dynamic both wholesome and refreshing. Chokshi could have easily made them unlovable, but instead made them one of the most supportive friend groups in young adult literature, and for that I applaud them. You find yourself truly feeling as if you are a part of the gang, wanting to read more of their friendship and their domestic life. Additionally, Hypnos is honestly one of the highlights of this book. He is used wonderfully as a comic relief, but is still given a position of importance to move the plot along. Watching him find his spot in the group and earn their trust was endearing, and I left the book with him being my favourite to read about. I can’t wait to see how he further develops in book two!
One of the most important parts about this book is its commentary on colonisation, and the impacts it has on other cultures. In the back of the book, Roshani Chokshi goes into detail about what inspired The Gilded Wolves, namely the horrors and adversities other cultures faced in an era that has since been dubbed “La Belle Époque” or “The Beautiful Era”. This book takes the era and explores it for what it was: an era full of injustice, lack of human rights and a horror for other cultures. The commentary throughout this novel is important, doing so well what other books don’t do at all. I applaud this novel for discussing the darker side of the 1800s, knowing so much historical fiction these days glosses over the horrors of the past in favour of glamour. But, how can we have glamour when so many people suffered? Just a thought.
Ultimately, The Gilded Wolves should be on everyone’s TBR. It is a fast-paced, enthralling read which will leave you reading until the early hours of the next day. It’s hard to put down, writing in a way that pulls you into the world and doesn’t let you go until you have finished all 388 pages. If you love a fast paced plot, good characters, and a magic system that is easy to comprehend, this novel is for you! I can’t wait to read book 2, hopefully I get to it in December!
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.