Title: The Gilded Wolves
Series Details: The Gilded Wolves #1
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Imprint: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Blurb from Goodreads:
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.
I’ll be honest—I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I thought it would be too YA for me when I first laid eyes on it. But that premise really did a good job luring me into picking up the book and reading it. It wasn’t perfect. It has its highs and lows. There were aspects that I wished have been more solid and clear, but hell if I didn’t enjoy the hunt.
“Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It’s far more useful.”
The best components in this book are its adorable and diverse array of characters, and their amazing group dynamics. A band of misfits—each have different skills and they are damn good at it—tasked to steal an ancient artifact. Not only did they have an admirable friendship, they also showed us what teamwork looks like.
Enrique is simply my favorite character from this book. I rarely find books with Filipino main characters, so reading about Enrique and his passion for history and symbols is such a delight. All the others are quite lovable as well except for the one that is obviously not fully developed—Tristan. It’s as if he was forgotten when the author creates the layers and give rich backstories for each character. And somehow it lessens the stories impact and greatly affects my rating.
It’s also impressive how Roshani Chokshi pulled the Ilustrados from Philippine history as well as other historical events from all over the world—and even stories from the Bible—bend them a little, and made them fit seamlessly into her story.
“Sometimes the only way to take down what had destroyed you was to disguise yourself as part of it.”
While The Gilded Wolves’ theme has a bit of likeness to Six of Crows, the characters’ journey are totally different. Severin’s team aren’t fighters. They’re a bunch of nerds and geniuses. Their strength lies on the knowledge they possessed and how they use them. So, despite this being a book about a heist, we didn’t see a lot of cunning plots and deception. Instead, there’s more focus on logic—solving puzzles and riddles, decoding symbols, and figuring out complicated math problems, which really flaunted each character’s big brains.
“Half of winning, my dear wallet, is simply looking victorious.”
Chokshi’s writing style is also something to admire—it’s lush and descriptive. You can see the hefty amount of time, thoughts, and effort given into this book. There were plenty of ideas running in The Gilded Wolves too. But sometimes it felt like there’s too many of them that some things gets slightly confusing—like the magic system for one. I got used to it after some time but a wider picture about their magic’s source and how it works would’ve been great.
“That boy looks like every dark corner of a fairy tale. The wolf in bed. The apple in a witch’s palm.”
There is a touch of romance in this book. It seems “barely there” but you know that it’s bound to ignite in the coming releases. The Severin-and-Laila-ship isn’t exactly unique. They both desire the other but also they’re both trying to quell that desire for them to focus on their personal goals. It’s nothing new but I find myself aboard the ship anyway.
The book finished with a big, shocking cliffhanger that will make you wish the next installment could come faster. It’s the kind of ending that would definitely raise questions and excitement from readers. I loved it. I might have added a full star to my rating just for that ending.
I really enjoyed The Gilded Wolves despite having doubts at first. There were places that gets a little boring and there were things that got a little bit more complicated than it should. But overall, this is a world that I’d definitely want to go back to.