• Sthuti Srinivas

Review: Gilded Wolves

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Gilded Wolves (1/3)

Mind-blowing!! My heart was crushed and mended...Can't wait to read the next one.

All I knew about The Gilded Wolves’ fascinating premise led me to believe that it’s going to dig in the depths of sentimentality and awaken my soul from a slumber that was far, far too long. I’m a fan of outcasts and a good heist book. I'm completely happy to inform you that this is one of the most fun books I've ever read in 2021.

What is the book exactly about?

Trouble often comes to those who follow it and Séverin Montagnet-Alarie, a French-Algerian wealthy hotelier and part-time treasure hunter, has followed trouble since he was a child.

This is a historical fantasy set in alternate 1889 Paris, France, where children will manifest magical powers by the age of thirteen. And there are two distinct kinds of magic: the magic of the mind and the magic of matter. There is also a very powerful secret society, that goes by the name of the Order of Babel, and it used to be made up of four houses, but two houses took over ten years ago. And by doing so, they made a big mistake claiming the heir of one of those fallen houses as dead.

“Turning into ghosts is not what the dead deserve.”

Ten years ago, the Order of Babel—the all-too-powerful secret society of Paris—denied Séverin’s claim as the heir of House Vanth and declared their line legally dead. But the Order’s decision is holding every hallmark of a lie, and for years, they luxuriated in seeing Séverin’s dream shatter, and he hobbled and lamed, foundering in the shards of his broken hopes. His future now seems to have thinned to a point of destiny, and it had a name: revenge. But one can only get so far on thoughts of vengeance alone…

Click the button to enjoy the slideshow. (Note: I don't own any of the art above, credit goes to the talented artists)

Six huge nerds. One impossible heist slash treasure hunt. The outcome could either be a dream or a death sentence. Paris drags out its secrets, and Séverin soon learns the things that could be taken away in a heartbeat, all in the pursuit of power. So happy to read an Indian main protagonist being an Indian it's so nice to be represented.

When you are who they expect you to be, they never look too closely. If you’re furious, let it be fuel,” Séverin said, looking each of them in the eye. “Just don’t forget that enough power and influence makes anyone impossible to look away from. And then they can’t help but see you.”

The Gilded Wolves reminds me of Six of a good way, the themes of the books are similar though the latter is darker than the former. Gilded Wolved is its own story with an impactful message and grudge-holding secrets.

The Gilded Wolves is a magical take on an ever-compelling theme—with just enough riddles to entertain the history and science nerds but not so much to turn off fantasy fans. And best of all, it’s inclusive, diverse, feminist, and wonderfully queer. I found myself filled with gratitude coiling into every moment of admiration for Chokshi’s craft: gratitude for agency, nuance, inclusiveness, representation, mingled with awe at the way she draws on a wealth of meticulously detailed research to flesh out the characters’ surroundings, and never falters in the balance between the necessity of telling a straightforward story, and the indulgence of making it a gorgeous story by imbuing it with the lush, descriptive language for which Chokshi has become known.

Everything in this book delighted me, from the characters’ endearing wit and multidimensionality to the plot that manages to be twisty and thorny without being unduly complex or overpowering—yes, sometimes the tension of the story gets inevitably lost, but I love how Chokshi cleverly replaces it with the slow unfurling of all the half-truths and lies that are propping up the shambles of the characters’ lives—to the supporting interlopers, and antagonists who are textured enough to feel real at the moment.

The ending abruptly throws the veracity of most of the earlier narration into doubt, which was kind of dislocating but in a thrilling sort of way. I finished this book with the feeling of having raced through a labyrinth and found only dead ends—a labyrinth with no solution.

The Gilded Wolves is setting up interesting hooks for future installments and I'm genuinely excited to see where and how the story unfolds!

If you've never yet read a book by Roshani Chokshi, this would be a wonderful place to start.

Happy Reading

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