From New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi comes a novel set in Paris during a time of extraordinary changeone that is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous desires...
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 historybut only if they can stay alive.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
One week earlier ...
Séverin glanced at the clock: two minutes left.
Around him, the masked members of the Order of Babel whipped out white fans, murmuring to themselves as they eagerly awaited the final auction bidding.
Séverin tipped back his head. On the frescoed ceiling, dead gods fixed the crowd with flat stares. He fought not to look at the walls, but failed. The symbols of the remaining two Houses of the French faction hemmed him on all sides. Crescent moons for House Nyx. Thorns for House Kore.
The other two symbols had been carefully lifted out of the design.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the Order, our spring auction is at its close," announced the auctioneer. "Thank you for bearing witness to this extraordinary exchange. As you know, the objects of this evening's auction have been rescued from far-flung locales like the deserts of North Africa and dazzling palaces of Indo-Chine. Once more, we give thanks and honor to the two Houses of France who agreed to host this spring's auction. House Nyx, we honor you. House Kore, we honor you."
Séverin raised his hands, but refused to clap. The long scar down his palm silvered beneath the chandelier light, a reminder of the inheritance he had been denied.
Séverin, last of the Montagnet-Alarie line and heir to House Vanth, whispered its name anyway. House Vanth, I honor you.
Ten years ago, the Order had declared the line of House Vanth dead.
The Order had lied.
While the auctioneer launched into a long-winded speech about the hallowed and burdensome duties of the Order, Séverin touched his stolen mask. It was a tangle of metal thorns and roses gilded with frost, Forged so the ice never melted and the roses never wilted. The mask belonged to the House Kore courier who, if Séverin's dosage had been correct, was currently drooling in a lavish suite at his hotel, L'Eden.
According to his intelligence, the object he had come here for would be on the auction block any moment now. He knew what would happen next. Light bidding would take place, but everyone suspected House Nyx had fixed the round to win the object. And though House Nyx would win, that artifact was going home with Séverin.
The corner of his lips tipped into a smile as he raised his fingers. At once, a glass from the champagne chandelier floating above him broke off and sailed into his hand. He lifted the flute to his lips, not sipping, but once more noting the ballroom's layout and exits just over the glass rim. Tiers of pearly macarons in the shape of a giant swan marked the east exit. There, the young heir of House Nyx, Hypnos, drained a champagne flute and motioned for another. Séverin had not spoken to Hypnos since they were young. As children, they had been something of playmates and rivals, both raised almost identically, both groomed to take their fathers' rings.
But that was a lifetime ago.
Séverin forced his gaze from Hypnos and looked instead to the lapis-blue columns guarding the south exit. At the west, four Sphinx authorities stood motionless in their suits and crocodile masks.
They were the reason no one could steal from the Order. The mask of a Sphinx could sniff out and follow any trace of an object that had been House-marked by a matriarch's or patriarch's ring.
But Séverin knew that all the artifacts came to the auction clean, and were only House-marked at the auction's conclusion when they were claimed. Which left a few precious moments between time of sale and time of claiming in which an object could be stolen. And no one, not even a Sphinx, would be able to trace where it had gone.
A vulnerable unmarked object was not, however, without its protections.
Séverin glanced at the north end, diagonally from him, toward the holding room — the place where all unmarked objects awaited their new owners. At the entrance crouched a gigantic quartz lion. Its crystalline tail whipped lazily against the marble floor.
A gong rang. Séverin looked to the podium where a light-skinned man had stepped onto the stage.
"Our final object is one we are most delighted to showcase. Salvaged from the Summer Palace of China in 1860, this compass was Forged sometime during the Han Dynasty. Its abilities include navigating the stars and detecting lies from truth," said the auctioneer. "It measures twelve by twelve centimeters, and weighs 1.2 kilograms."
Above the auctioneer's head, a hologram of the compass shimmered. It looked like a rectangular piece of metal, with a spherical indentation at its center. Chinese characters crimped the metal on all sides.
The list of the compass's abilities was impressive, but it was not the compass that intrigued him. It was the treasure map hidden inside. Out the corner of his eye, Séverin watched Hypnos clap his hands together eagerly.
"Bidding starts at five hundred thousand francs."
A man from the Italian faction raised his fan.
"Five hundred thousand to Monsieur Monserro. Do I see —"
Hypnos raised his hand.
"Six hundred thousand," said the auctioneer. "Six hundred thousand going once, twice —"
The members began to talk amongst themselves. There was no point trying in a fixed round.
"Sold!" said the auctioneer with forced cheer. "To House Nyx for six hundred thousand. Patriarch Hypnos, at the conclusion of the auction, please have your House courier and designated servant sent to the holding room for the customary eight-minute appraisal. The object will be waiting in the designated vessel where you may mark it with your ring."
Séverin waited a moment before excusing himself. He walked briskly along the edges of the atrium until he made it to the quartz lion. Behind the lion stretched a darkened hall lined with marble pillars. The quartz lion's eyes slid indifferently to him, and Séverin fought the urge to touch his stolen mask. Disguised as the House Kore courier, he was allowed to enter the holding room and touch a single object for exactly eight minutes. He hoped the stolen mask would be enough to get him past the lion, but if the lion asked to see his catalogue coin for verification — a Forged coin that held the location of every object in House Kore's possession — he'd be dead. He hadn't been able to find the dratted thing anywhere on the courier.
Séverin bowed before the quartz lion, then held still. The lion did nothing. Its unblinking gaze burned his face as moments ticked past. His breath started to feel sticky in his lungs. He hated how much he wanted this artifact. There were so many wants inside him that he doubted there was room for blood in his body.
Séverin didn't look up from the floor until he heard it — the scrape of stones rearranging. He let out his breath. His temples pulsed as the door to the holding room appeared. Without the lion's permission, the Forged door would have remained unseen.
All along the walls of the holding room, marble statues of gods and creatures from myth leaned out of recessed niches. Séverin walked straight to a marble figure of the snarling, bull-headed minotaur. Séverin raised his pocket knife to the statue's flared nostrils. Warm breath fogged the Forged blade. In one smooth line, Séverin dragged the blade's tip down the statue's face and body. It split open; the marble hissed and steamed as his historian stumbled out of it and fell against him. Enrique gasped, shaking himself.
"You hid me in a minotaur? Why couldn't Tristan make a hiding dimension in a handsome Greek god?"
"His affinity is for liquid matter. Stone is difficult for him," said Séverin, pocketing the knife. "So it was either the minotaur or an Etruscan vase decorated with bull testicles."
Enrique shuddered. "Honestly. Who looks at a vase covered in bull testicles and says, 'You. I must have you.'?"
"The bored, the rich, and the enigmatic."
Enrique sighed. "All my life aspirations."
The two of them turned to the circle of treasure, many of them Forged ancient relics looted from temples and palaces. Statues and strands of jewels, measuring devices and telescopes.
At the back of the room, an onyx bear representing House Nyx glowered at them, its jaws cracked wide. Beside it, an emerald eagle representing House Kore shook its wings. Animals representing the other Order factions all around the world stood at attention, including a brown bear carved of fire opal for Russia, a wolf sculpted of beryl for Italy, even an obsidian eagle for the German Empire.
Enrique dug inside his costume of an Order servant and pulled out a rectangular piece of metal identical to the compass House Nyx had won.
Séverin took the fake artifact.
"Still waiting on my thanks, you know," huffed Enrique. "It took me ages to research and assemble that."
"It would have taken less time if you didn't antagonize Zofia."
"It's inevitable. If I breathe, your engineer is prepared to launch warships."
"Then hold your breath."
"That should be easy enough," said Enrique, rolling his eyes. "I do it every time we acquire a new piece."
Séverin laughed. Acquiring was what he called his particular hobby. It sounded ... aristocratic. Wholesome, even. He had the Order to thank for his acquisition habit. After denying his claim as heir of House Vanth, they'd blackballed him from every auction house, so he could not legally purchase Forged antiquities. If they hadn't done that, perhaps he wouldn't have gotten so curious about what objects they were keeping him from in the first place. Some of those objects were, as it turned out, his family's possessions. After the Montagnet-Alarie line was declared dead, all the possessions of House Vanth had been sold. In the months after Séverin turned sixteen and liquidated his legal trust, he had reclaimed each and every one. After that, he'd offered his acquisition services to international museums and colonial guilds, any organization that wished to take back what the Order had first stolen.
If the rumors about the compass were right, it might allow him to blackmail the Order, and then he could acquire the only thing he still wanted: his House.
"You're doing it again," said Enrique.
"That whole nefarious-whilst-looking-into-the-distance thing. What are you hiding, Séverin?"
"You and your secrets."
"Secrets keep my hair lustrous," said Séverin, running his hand through his curls. "Shall we?"
Enrique nodded. "Room check."
He tossed a Forged sphere into the air where it hung, suspended. Light burst from the object, sliding down the walls and over the objects to scan them.
"No recording devices."
At Séverin's nod, they positioned themselves before the onyx bear of House Nyx. It stood on a raised dais, its jaws parted enough so the red velvet box holding the Chinese compass shone bright as an apple. The moment Séverin touched the box, he had less than eight minutes to return it. Or — his gaze went to the beast's shining teeth — the creature would take it back forcefully.
He removed the red box. At the same time, Enrique drew out a pair of scales. First, they weighed the box with the original compass, then marked the number before preparing to switch it with the decoy.
Enrique cursed. "Off by a hair. But it should work. The difference is hardly discernible by the scales."
Séverin's jaw clenched. It didn't matter if it was hardly discernible by the scales. It mattered if the difference was discernible to the onyx bear. But he'd come too far to back away now.
Séverin placed the box in the bear's mouth, pushing it in until his wrist disappeared. Onyx teeth scraped against his arm. The statue's throat was cool and dry, and entirely too still. His hand shook.
"Are you breathing?" whispered Enrique. "I'm definitely not."
"Not helping," growled Séverin.
Now he was up to his elbow. The bear was rigid. It didn't even blink.
Why hasn't it accepted the box?
A creaking sound lit up the silence. Séverin jerked his hand back. Too late. The bear's teeth lengthened in a blink, forming narrow little bars. Enrique took one look at Séverin's trapped hand, turned pale, and bit out a single word: "Shit."CHAPTER 2
Laila slipped into the hotel room of the House Kore courier.
Her dress, a discarded housekeeper uniform fished out of the dregs of storage, snagged on the doorframe. She grumbled, yanking it, only for a seam to unravel.
"Perfect," she muttered.
She turned to face the room. Like all the L'Eden guest rooms, the courier's suite was lavishly appointed and designed. The only piece that looked out of place was the unconscious courier, lying facedown in a pool of his saliva. Laila frowned.
"They could've at least left you in your bed, poor thing," she said, toeing him so he turned over onto his back.
For the next ten minutes, Laila redecorated. From the pockets of her housekeeper's dress, she threw women's earrings on the floor, draped torn stockings over lamp fixtures, mussed the bed, and poured champagne over the sheets. When she was done, she knelt beside the courier.
"A parting gift," she said. "Or apology. However you see fit."
She took out her official cabaret calling card. Then she lifted the man's thumb and pressed it to the paper. It shimmered iridescent, words blooming to life. The Palais des Rêves' calling cards were Forged to recognize a patron's thumbprint. Only the courier could read what it said, and only when he touched it. She slid the card into the breast pocket of his jacket, scanning the lettering before it melted into the cream paper:
Palais des Rêves
90 boulevard de Clichy
Tell them L'Énigme sent you ...
A party invitation sounded like a poor consolation prize for getting knocked unconscious, but this was different. The Palais des Rêves was Paris's most exclusive cabaret, and next week they were throwing a party in honor of the hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution. Invitations currently sold on the black market for the price of diamonds. But it wasn't just the cabaret that had people excited. In a few weeks' time, the city would host the 1889 Exposition Universelle, a gigantic world fair celebrating the powers of Europe and the inventions that would pave the way for the new century, which meant that L'Eden Hôtel was running at full capacity.
"I doubt you'll remember this, but do try and order the chocolate-covered strawberries at the Palais," she said to the courier. "They're utterly divine."
Laila checked the grandfather clock: half past eight. Séverin and Enrique weren't due back for at least an hour, but she couldn't stop checking the time. Hope flared painfully behind her ribs. She'd spent two years looking for a breakthrough in her search for the ancient book, and this treasure map could be the answer to every prayer. They'll be fine, she told herself. Acquisitions were hardly new to any of them. When Laila had first started working with Séverin, he was trying to earn back his family's possessions. In return, he helped in her search for an ancient book. The book had no title she knew of ... her only lead was that it belonged to the Order of Babel.
Going after a treasure map hidden inside a compass sounded rather tame in comparison to former trips. Laila still hadn't forgotten the time she ended up dangling over Nisyros Island's active volcano in pursuit of an ancient diadem. But this acquisition was different. If Enrique's research and Séverin's intelligence reports were correct, that one tiny compass could change the direction of their lives. Or, in Laila's case, let her keep this life.
Distracted, Laila smoothed her hands across her dress.
She should never touch anything when her thoughts were too frenzied. That single unguarded moment had allowed the dress's memories to knife into her thoughts: chrysanthemum petals clinging to the wet hem, brocade stretched over the carriage footstool, hands folded in prayer, and then —
Blood everywhere, the carriage overturned, bone snapping through the fabric —
Laila winced, snatching back her hand. But it was too late. The dress's memories caught her and held tight. Laila squeezed her eyes shut, pinching her skin as hard as she could. The sharp pain felt like a red flame in her thoughts, and her consciousness wrapped around that pain as if it would lead her out of the dark. When the memories faded, she opened her eyes. Laila pulled down her sleeve, her hands shaking.
For a moment, Laila crouched on the floor, her arms around her knees. Séverin had called her ability "invaluable" before she told him why she could read the objects around her. After that, he was too startled, or perhaps too horrified, to say anything. Out of the whole group, only Séverin knew her touch could draw out an object's secret history. Invaluable or not, this ability was not ... normal.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Gilded Wolves"
Copyright © 2018 Roshani Chokshi.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Also by Roshani Chokshi,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My impressions based not he first 26 pages from Bookish First: Very Intriguing and Really Liking It! Writing: The book is very well written. I liked how to book started off with a quote and an intriguing bit of information about the world. I am a big fan Roshani Chokshi's writing. I find it lyrical and beautiful. She describes things using all the senses which really draws me in. Plot/Story: This book seems very inventive. I like that it is set in the late 1800 in Paris. It is a very interesting setting to have the book set in. It immediately is intriguing by giving a little snippet of the world before the prologue even starts. It explains this new world of Houses and heists and leaves me wants to find out at the end of this sampler. And did I mention the magic? It's intriguing and I can't wait to find out more about how it all works! Characters: There is a large host of characters and I absolutely love how diverse they all are. I am interested to find out more from each of them. I was immediately draw to Lila for her strength and fun demeanor. Severin seems very driven and I wonder if this will work out to his advantage. Zofia was also very interesting to me for the way the other characters view her. It seems like there might be a disconnect between how they view her and how she views herself and I would like to find out more about this.
Rating: 4.5 stars Please consider getting a copy of this amazing book if you enjoy: - clever puzzles - art history - Six of Crows level banter and friendship - All things French - Fancy parties that may end in death - Moving floors and treasure hunting a la National Treasure - Giant rolling balls of fire (see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for reference) - Romance that definitely wants to make you pass out - Exploding walking sticks - Lovable boys - Lovable tarantulas - An ending that makes you want to sue the author for not having the sequel immediately Even if none of those speak to you, I can guarantee that there's something for everybody in this gorgeous historical fantasy that is sure to be one of my favorites of the year!
This book had me all sorts of confused and I STRUGGLED so hard to read this book. It literally took me from November 20th to December 12th to read! AH! So long. I did finish. First off, the world-building was utterly confusing. I honestly had almost no clue where they were and what was going on. The "secret society" type thing going on with the Order in this book had me absolutely lost. It barely gave us any information into who they are or why they are. Then you go and throw magic and a heist on top of that, and it really threw me off. The characters also didn't stick with me and I found myself not caring for any of them or what happened to them. Overall this one was just meh for me. I actually only pushed through reading it, because the publisher sent me the 2nd book in the series to read and review. Hopefully the second book is better than the first. Fingers crossed.
4.5/5 Stars! I first read a book by Roshani Chokshi when she started her middle grade series with Rick Riordan Presents, Aru Shah. I was immediately in love with her magical way of writing and wanted to be friends with her characters. Once I had read it though, I realized she had already written several other books that were YA fantasy. The Gilded Wolves is the first of these books that I delved into. IT DID NOT DISSAPOINT! When I first started this book and took some notes about fifty pages in, I was a little confused. I admit this might be because I didn't read the synopsis before I started it (I just saw that it was by Roshani Chokshi and had a beautiful cover and then dove right in!). Either way, I was a little confused as to what was happening in the first few chapters. When I say confused, though, I don't mean that the characters were unclear or that the plot didn't make sense. I really can't describe it very well, but something about the story and what the characters were doing in general was confusing to me. A little confusion has never been a deterrent for me, though, and it definitely wasn't in this case. I really wanted to like this book and I was already pretty much won over by the rich language and diverse cast of characters. I especially liked that the characters each brought something new to the story and had such unique perspectives and interesting backgrounds. So, I kept reading, falling in love with these people (although also hating the stupid choices they made from time to time). Once I had finished the book, I was much more convinced of my adoration of this author's works. Everything started making more sense throughout the book and there were lots of little puzzle-like scenarios, which I realized weren't supposed to make sense right off the bat to the reader. I really appreciated the journey this story took me on and I can't wait to read the next book in this series which is coming out next year. *note: originally published on my blog (www.libraryinmymind.com).
This is a must read for all fantasy fans, regardless whether you are 15 or 35. You won't regret it. It is a very interesting book though- I have never seen an author successfully talk about racism and colonialism without losing the fantasy part of the fiction. Be rest assured, it is not lost here. The words- ah they are bliss. The book transports you to a world where the words drenches you through vivid imagery. Most authors tend to lose themselves and the story while describing a certain thing- Roshani, however, has encapsulated every moment so well. The romances in this story is still at its beginning. However, the promise of an epic romance is clearly inevitable in her later books. I cannot suppress my excitement for her next book!!
This was great! Such a story, so involved. Loved the characters! Loved the romance always teetering on the edge. Great world building. I loved the author’s mix of history with fantasy! Great characters with very different personalities! I cannot wait for the next in this series!
This book. Wow, just wow. The characters are so complex and wonderful, I fell in love with each and every one of them. They are such great, lovable characters, and I am so glad I was able to read this book. The story itself held me at the edge of my seat the whole time. I absolutely love all the twists and turns and everything else. This story reads like a Mission Impossible/Now You See Me movie. It's so amazing to be able to read scenes during a heist, and be able to visualize it like it's happening in one of these movies!! It really just grabbed my attention and wouldn't let it go! When I started this book, I worried it would be a Six of Crows copycat. But I can say with complete confidence, that is not the case with this book. It is amazing and definitely stands out on its own, especially with it's very unique and intriguing characters. If you're worried about that, I would definitely say to just pick it up and read it already!!
If you’re looking for a historical heist, this is the novel for you! Séverin Montagnet-Alarie has been exiled from a powerful order and spends his time taking back what’s his: the items of his inheritance that were taken form him upon exile. A job gone south forces him to take a commissioned job: stealing a Forged (magical) item from The Order he was kicked out of! Séverin and his talented crew get into higher stakes than ever before as relationships form and break under the pressure. Set in 1889 Paris, the environment of the book and the outfits of the characters are absolutely fabulous- I’m sure so much research went into this book! The best part for me was that we were given a group of 6 characters, and they were equally given screen-time and were all well developed with personal histories and motivations. That’s hard to do in one initial book and I was blown away. I didn’t realize how attached I was to the character’s plots until I started rooting for [certain things] to occur. Our exiled hotel owner, a biracial friend from the past (a current Order-member), a biracial bisexual historian, an Indian dancer with a powerful touch, a genius engineer with a debt to pay, and our exile’s brother with the ability to Forge flowers. The bisexual representation in particular was done quite tastefully, showing the character’s interest in multiple people and their past struggles with religion and family. As someone who identifies as bisexual, I was shocked and pleased to see this realistic experience in this novel, especially since the novel has only been marked as Historical Fiction and Fantasy so far. It’s nice to see an LGBT+ character in a book that doesn’t revolve around their sexuality. Going further, this character’s commitment to a person was just that, choosing a person to be with and not ‘choosing a gender’. Unfortunately, the latter happens too often, so I am over the moon about this character!! Of course, this book ends with prophesized action ahead, and a big twist- I can’t wait for Séverin and the crew’s next adventure!
Overhyped!! I was so excited to receive this book when I bought/pre-ordered it, and after reading, I was SO confused. I thought that this was a book maybe targeted to "smart" people, and maybe I need to realize I can't read everything, lol. As another reviewer had stated, and agreed, they didn't feel "smart" enough to read this book with all the math, mythology, and history intertwined. Others do not agree, but I felt the heist of the story was akin to Six of Crows combined with Oceans 11?? Also, Séverin = Kaz. Don't @ me The characters fell flat for me. I didn't connect with any of them, and I confused them most of the time. I had to go back and forth to my notes to remember who is who. The banter was annoying and forced. I may try to pick up the story again in the future, but I gave away my copy, so...
I'd give this about 3.5 stars. I really wanted to love it as I love the cover and it has a really intriguing storyline. I haven't read a lot of books focusing on heists so I was really interested int hat aspect. It's supposed to have a historical setting in Paris, but I didn't get the feel of either. I loved the diversity among the characters but they didn't seem to hold distinct voices. This is my second book by this author and i'm still not sure i'm very fond of her writing style. I did prefer the writing in this over Star Touched Queen though. While there's parts I loved and parts that bugged me, I'll probably continue the series and try a re-read some day. Overall, it's a good read and interesting story but it didn't capture me like I was hoping it would.
I still have no clue what the main plot of this book, and I have no idea why it's called Gilded Wolves. This was one of my most anticipated reads for January, and I was thrilled to receive an ARC of it. It was disappointing to say the least, which seemed to be how all my reads have been in January. It was a relief when I finally finished this book. It seems like the author was trying so hard to not make to not make this book like Six of Crows, that the more she tried not to, the more the book seemed to be like SoC. At throughout almost the entire book, I had no clue what was happening and nothing was vividly painting a picture of who was doing what and why. I do love the cover, but it doesn't really make any sense with why the title is what it is and why the cover is what it is.
To be completely transparent and honest, I really struggled with this book. The cover is absolutely beautiful, I have plenty of friends that read Gilded Wolves and loved it, but I just really struggled. I think I had problems connecting to the characters maybe? At about 50% in, I realized that I was not bought in to the plot and didn’t feel any sort of angst or suspense. I didn’t care what happened to the characters ♀️ I didn’t love Roshani’s previous books because I’m not a fan of her writing style. It’s similar to Laini Taylor’s, which most people love! I, unfortunately, am not one of those people. I really tried to love this book. I gave it a few fair chances. But ultimately, it was just okay.
"Nothing but a symbol? People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They're not just lines. They're histories, cultures, traditions, given shape." ---- I am all at once in love, and yet heart-broken. The Gilded Wolves was both everything I wanted it to be, while being nothing at all like I expected. Roshani Chokshi is a master at crafting worlds and characters that are saturated in so many different layers of colors that you can't help but falling in love with them. The heartbreak inevitably arrives upon finishing the book. I found it so hard to put this book down that I felt utterly empty upon finishing it. An entire world had suddenly been pulled out from under my feet and I was left in a spiraling daze of wanting more while still trying to process what had just been. If you like adventure and found families and mysteries set in a world far from your own, then this book is definitely for you. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll find a fictional family all of your own.
The glitz, the glamour, the SASS- I mean honestly, what more could you want? Well, I suppose handsome boys, fierce independent young women and a diverse set of characters but don't worry, it's got those too! I was lucky enough the meet this beautiful author in person while on her books tour earlier this year and something that struck me was the time, effort and passion she put into diversifying her characters. Not only were they relatable and heartwarming but there was intentionally a character written as someone who is on the spectrum. I wont spoil it for you but I will let you know that the author did painstakingly detailed research to ensure that she got this person as perfect as she could and was hands down my favorite character in the entire book. I also can see why/how people often compare the book to the "Six of Crows" series but seeing as how that's one of my favorite books, that was NOT why I enjoyed this as much as I did (and quite frankly, it's a tad rude to compare books like that, in my opinion). Yes, it had similarities towards the beginning but just barely so KEEP READING PEOPLE, it gets GOOD.
"Everywhere he looked, he was surrounded by gilded wolves. And for whatever reason, it made him feel perfectly at home. Wolves were everywhere. In politics, on thrones, in beds. They cut their teeth on history and grew fat on war. Not that Séverin was complaining. It was just that, like other wolves, he wanted his share." I am officially addicted to the Gilded Wolves! Roshani Chokshi holds a special place in my heart. From the moment I read her Star-touched Queen, I knew her prose was for me. When I read A Crown of Wishes I knew it's true love. Though The Gilded Wolves is nothing like its predecessors in style and writing, it proves that Roshani's talent is limitless and she is capable of many wonderful magical things. The Gilded Wolves is a story about Severin - the exiled heir of a dying House of Vanth. To earn back his inheritance Severin has to find and give to the omniscient Order of Babel society one ancient artifact they have been looking for. But to do so Severin requires a help of five different friends who have their own stakes in the game and their motives are not as simple as it seems. Together with his team of outcasts, Severin will have to penetrate powerful secret societies, to stop one ancient force from resurrecting, to stalk Paris's catacombs and not to lose their lives or hearts in the process. To give more information about this book would be a crime as it gradually unravels its secret nooks and hidden passages giving any reader a hell of a shock in the end and making you cry for the next installment. Well, this is what true adventures are made of. The Gilded Wolves reminded me of Six of Crows but the comparison is only in the setting: we have a team of outcasts and a heist to complete. Add to that magic and humor and you have a similar recipe to Six of Crows. But rather than common topic, books are nothing alike. The Gilded Wolves is a story in its own right, having a unique voice, you will not forget after finishing the book. I absolutely adored a cast of characters. They have diverse and unique voices. For sure you are going to pick your favorite characters and couples, but all of them working together as a team was so endearing that they became one of the cutest book families I've encountered in a book. My heart aches for all of them. As I mentioned before The Gilded Wolves is very different from Roshani's previous books. This story lacked the prose author is so famous for in her previous works. There were no lengthy but beautiful descriptions and imaginative epithets. Some people like to adhere to it as purple prose, but for me, it's just the beauty of language. The Gilded Wolves are more restraint in language but no less imaginative and complete in the richness of a word. And when Roshani uses some of the epithets to describe characters and their feelings, those words bloom and fill whole passages with possibilities beyond imagination. The only problem I had with the book was infodump at the beginning and lengthy descriptions of science and mechanical actions that can go on for pages and often confuse more than enlighten. Don't get me wrong, I am a nerd and adore smart characters and this book has plenty of them. But when you read a book you build all images in your head and some things were so confusing it was hard for me to imagine them properly. Heist, secret societies, friendship, star-crossed lovers, humor - a perfect remedy from Autumn melancholy. Highly recommended!
This was a fun world to get into! The magic was a neat twist of it coming from Babylon fragments that are scattered throughout the world but are known only by a few powerful houses. That makes for good book with corruption of the powerful and I hadn't come across a magic system like that, so that was cool. I thought Severin was a bit annoying at times while he was trying to bring back his house (I loved the twist at the end!) but I really liked Laila and her ability and I really hope I can read more about her backstory in the next book. The setting was lavish and beautiful to read and I wish I could stay at Severin's hotel. It was good world building. I really enjoyed this book and I can't wait for the next one to come out!
I've put off writing this review for so long because I truly did not know how to verbalize my love for this book. We all knew Roshani Chokshi was going to give us something wonderful, but I was still so blown away. The Gilded Wolves is a gorgeous, lush masterpiece of a book, one that will capture you and keep you in its grasps. Chokshi's writing was atmospheric, as usual, but the prose in this book was so off the charts. I have so many quotes bookmarked because I just love every line she writes. It's astounding, really, how she pulls us into this world and immerses us so into a historical setting. The characters were all so amazing; I couldn't pick a favorite. I mean, I love Hypnos, but also Zofia and also Laila, and Tristan, and Séverin, and Enrique. It's impossible to choose just one! I would honestly lay down my life for all of them. And the dynamics between all of them; the found family is heart-wrenching, really. I love them so much, it hurts.
It might be that I had high expectations for this book because I had been waiting for its release and had heard so much about it, but I was disappointed. I struggled to continue reading because I found myself unable to sympathize or relate to the characters. Also, I think the author’s writing style got in the way. Maybe it was too flowery for my taste but I found myself seeing the words rather than getting immersed in the story itself. On the flip side, the story and plot were enticing from the get-go and if I didn’t typically read for character rather than plot, I may have been able to get into this story more. Again, this may be just a matter of taste and this was the first book I have read written by this author.
Lush, diverse, historical fantasy heist book with a full cast of characters, each as distinctive as you would hope. I love all the imagery and symbolism. I loved the era the book was based in. I loved it all. I can't wait for more from this world, although this could be read as a stand-alone. HIghly recommended for fans of Six of Crows!
THE GILDED WOLVES is an action-packed adventure, in a lush, deadly world. Chokshi creates characters with interesting dynamics and compelling backstories, who all shine on the page. Severin and Laila's dynamic in particular was strongly rendered. The plot moves at a lightning fast pace through Gilded Age Paris. The magic system is interesting, and Chokshi makes a compelling commentary on stolen magic and the colonialism inherent to the time period. Every caper feels fun, with the appropriate stakes. At times, the book could stand to slow its pace. And at times, the plot twists became a bit convoluted (especially in the third act). But I'm more than willing to forgive this, because it doesn't seem to bog the book down. This is a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last line! I can't wait for the sequel and to see what Chokshi imagines next.
Paris in 1889 is a dazzling backdrop to any story, but add in a magical heist and it becomes breathtaking. Séverin Montagnet-Alaire was set to lead the House of Vanth until his birthright was taken from him. Dismissed by the other great Houses, Séverin creates his own fortune with his lavish and successful hotel, and by stealing back what rightfully belongs to him. He and his crew of unlikely treasure hunters set out to reclaim the magical artifacts belonging to the House of Vanth, as well as creating trouble for the ruling order over all the Houses of France, the Order of Babel. When another House leader offers Séverin the opportunity to reclaim his rightful place as head of his House, Séverin leads his team onto a dangerous journey that will test everyone’s skills and loyalties. This book has an amazing cast of characters and their magical, or forging, abilities are fascinating. There’s Laila, born stillborn but crafted into a new body by magicians, has the ability to read all objects, except those forged, with her touch. Zofia, a socially awkward and completely genius engineer, has a tendency to magically start fires and cause explosions. Tristan with his love of insects, especially large spiders, and his ability to forge incredible flowers. Enrique with his love of history and his disappointment at being unable to forge. All members of Séverin’s team and bound to him through magical contracts. The group is such a tight knit family that completely accepts one another for who they are and without judgement. The world building within this story is incredible. The magical ability to forge dictates your place within a family and within society. The way the character’s outfits and costumes can change with a sweep of a hand would be incredible to see on the big screen-or you know, the t.v. screen because it would be a great series. The story is fast paced with with plenty of action to keep the pages turning. Political intrigue, mysterious artifacts, magical abilities-it’s all so amazing. I loved this story and I’m looking forward to what will come next in the series.
There has been a lot of hype for this book before and after its publication date but for me it just fell a little short in certain areas. The beginning chapters were quite hard to follow when it came to the plot. If I remember correctly, it wasn't until Chapter 3 where I started to piece things together as to what they were trying to steal or even how any of the characters were connected. The beginning was certainly filled with action but it lacked in explaining and this happened quite often throughout the book especially when it came to different mythologies that are included in the plot. The characters in this book a quite diverse and in a way reminded me of the gang from Six of Crows. They are sarcastic, charming, and of course they are planning a serious heist. They are all unique and come from interesting backgrounds, some backgrounds covered more than others. One of the things I liked about the writing style was the different PoVs for each chapter. When it is done right it is a great way to see the plot from different perspectives. Another thing I liked about the writing was how lyrical it was at times. Overall, it was a decent read but it just wasn't really for me. I didn't connect with the characters and it was hard to get into the plot from the beginning. I think many will enjoy this book especially if they love Six of Crows or like the movie National Treasure.
First I would like to state that I read a 30-page excerpt of this book through bookishfirst and this review is based on that initial reading. Gilded Wolves should automatically appeal to someone like me; magic and an 'Ocean's 11' style heist mixed with some decent YA tropes should be as entertaining as it comes but there was something just, off about this experience. With only the basic introductions to characters, I have to say...I see little difference in personality or rationale behind their future actions. I know the heist was done since the opening bit of 'history' pretty much seals that in before the start of the actual narrative but there is still something fundamentally missing for me. Maybe there was more details and character development further along in the book ( dear gods I hope so,) but for right now, the first 30 pages were a struggle for me to get through let alone differentiate between all the characters. In addition, there is no real world building in this first part of the book which makes the world seem covered in fog. Yes I know it is set in France but the time period? Alternate timeline? Magical? It is hard to tell in the first 30. My guess is that the characters are developed more throughout the book but that I would be left hungry for more details about the world they inhabit.
I was so disappointed in this book. This was actually one of my most anticipated reads this year, I even have 2 copies of it! I ended up after several attempts at getting into the book by reading it, giving up for the audiobook from the library. I didn't actually get remotely into the book until about 50% in (way too late). The characters all seemed too similar to me so I didn't really connect with them. Séverin and Zofia are the only ones I can even remember after just finishing this a few days ago. Even with the audiobook I sort of zoned out of it while listening so can't even remember much of what was happening. I know most people love this book so it's probably just a personal writing style that didn't work out for me. The characters didn't grab me and the stakes weren't high enough for me to care what happened so I was mostly bored..... I haven't read a book by Roshani before so this may just be her style and not for me. I'll continue this series though when the next book comes out. Sometimes I end up loving a series once I read the second book and I'm really hoping that's the case here.
Thank you so much to St. Martins Press and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I've been slowly easing myself into books I wouldn't normally read and I was very excited when I received his novel. I heard that it is reminiscent of Six of Crows and even though I haven't read that book yet it's definitely on my TBR list. I have heard many great things about the author and her past works so I was immediately intrigued by this one. This book is set in 1889 during the Exposition Universalle which is a fair that features displays of cars, diamonds, and a human zoo. While this book tended to lean more towards historical with a touch of fantasy, I still really enjoyed it and the characters. I got a little confused at times as the characters were building up and what their relationships were with each other but as I got further into the book it made more sense. There was a few areas of massive information dumps that I had to slowly read to not get confused (spoiler alert, I still did) but overall this was a really great book. I absolutely love the cover and how the author was so detailed in everything. The only complaint I have is the ending, that was an interesting cliffhanger and now I feel I have to read the second book in the series to figure out what the heck is going to happen next.