I came upon The Gilded Wolves series by Roshani Chokshi by pure coincidence. One of the reasons I love browsing through Goodreads is that I often get some excellent recommendations. This was one of them. The series includes three books, namely The Gilded Wolves, The Silvered Serpents, and The Bronzed Beasts.
It is a series that mixes fantasy and history in a way that had me hooked right from the first page. It is set in Paris during the late 19th century, which in itself evokes a kind of romance that’s hard to parallel. It follows the story of a group of pariahs led by Séverin Montagnet-Alarie as they get thrown into a world of magic, myth, and political conspiracy.
“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.”
At first, the premise seemed familiar—a band of misfits trying to steal precious antiquities to make a living. As the story progresses, so does their bond grow, and we get to know more secrets behind their escapades and why each one of them has chosen this life of crime. Each member of the group has a unique talent. Some can read emotions from objects, while others can use alchemy to forge different things into the material world.
Over the course of the three books, in search of an ancient myth, the team goes from Paris to Russia, then Italy—each city with a distinct ambience. The books get progressively darker with death, betrayals, and heartbreaks as we delve deeper into the characters’ past and discover their secrets.
Gilded Wolves kept me guessing throughout the entire novel, and I found myself staying up late to read because I had to know what happened next. Roshani Choksi has woven together an intricate plot with rich characters and beautiful writing.
The Gilded Wolves trilogy is a young adult fantasy book with diverse characters, including people of colour and LGBTQ+ characters. The world that Roshani has created is fantastical but feels grounded in reality, which is part of the charm.
Zofia’s matter-of-fact humour made me chuckle a few times, as did the frivolities of Hypnos. The energy between Laila and Séverin is electric; you can almost feel the tension whenever they’re in the room together. Lastly, of course, the thinker Enrique with his knowledge of history and his inner dialogue about colonialism is intriguing as well.
“Depending on who you ask, sometimes ghost stories are all that is left of history. History is full of ghosts, because it’s full of myth. All of it woven together depending on who survived to do the telling.”
The book is well written, and Roshani Chokshi skillfully crafts the story. This novel will keep you engaged throughout. It has everything you need from a good fantasy book–intricate world-building, flawed characters, multiple POVs and an adventurous plot that will keep you turning the pages well into the middle of the night.
“We’ve got hope, a flimsy plan, and a great deal of explosives. We’ve gotten by on less. Let’s go.”
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