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The Gilded Wolves

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From New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi comes a novel set in Paris during a time of extraordinary change--one 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 history--but only if they can stay alive.

396 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 15, 2019

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About the author

Roshani Chokshi is the award-winning author of the New York Times bestselling series The Star-Touched Queen, The Gilded Wolves and Aru Shah and The End of Time, which Time Magazine named one of the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time. Her adult debut, The Last Tale of The Flower Bride, was a #1 Sunday Times bestseller. Her novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages and often draw upon world mythology and folklore. Chokshi is a member of the National Leadership Board for the Michael C. Carlos Museum and lives in Georgia with her husband and their cat whose diabolical plans must regularly be thwarted.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
January 15, 2019
History is a myth shaped by the tongues of conquerors.
- From the Author's Note

Well. Chokshi has really stepped up her game with this book. It's like Six of Crows mixed with the best bits of a Dan Brown book. In short, it's full of friendship, scheming, and lots of puzzles to solve.

I began reading The Gilded Wolves with some trepidation. My multiple attempts to read the author's past work led to me complaining about a disconnect with her flowery, poetic writing style. In this book, the descriptions are vivid and opulent, but she loses a lot of the synesthetic metaphors, making it a much more enjoyable read for me.

It's Paris 1889, during the Exposition Universelle - a world's fair that featured grand operas, displays of locomotives, the largest diamond in the world at the time... and a "Negro village". A human zoo. This is not fantasy. Much of this book is the real history of Paris in all its sparkly ugliness. Into this very real setting, comes a tale of the divine art of Forging - an art whose power is believed to come from the broken pieces of the Tower of Babel.

Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is a thief and the son of a French father and North-African mother. He's also the heir to the dead House Vanth, if only the Order of Babel would accept him and grant him his inheritance. Séverin's pursuit of what is rightfully his leads him on a hunt for a Horus Eye, which is said to reveal the location of a Babel fragment. To do so, he will of course need the help of his diverse band of allies.

And can I just say I loved them? Each and every one.

💫 Tristan - Séverin's sweet brother; a lover of plants and animals, especially his tarantula Goliath. He's such a lovable goof.

💫 Laila - A feisty Indian dancer and part-time pastry chef. The chemistry between Laila and Séverin sizzles, and we soon learn that there's history between them that they are both trying to forget.

💫 Zofia - One of my two favourite characters. She is Polish, Jewish, and a genius. I think it's also implied that she might be autistic, too, as she struggles to understand jokes and human behaviour in general, but is great with numbers and solving the puzzles.

💫 Hypnos - Séverin's childhood rival. Hypnos is dark-skinned, unapologetically queer and absolutely hilarious. “Oh no, shiny things,” moaned Hypnos, clapping his hands to his heart. “My weakness.”

💫 Enrique - Ah, and my other favourite character. Enrique, my love. He's bisexual and mixed race - Filipino and Spanish - and is just the kind of perfectly snarky, funny, smart character I love. Plus, he's a history buff, so even more yay.

I love them all.

Also, The Gilded Wolves is a smorgasbord of mythology. In fact, it's main weakness might be that it's more than a little convoluted and dense. There's four third-person perspectives, and the codes and puzzles bring in a mix of Greek mythology, Biblical mythology, Chinese cleromancy, mathematics, and more. It makes a certain kind of poetic sense to have so many different mythologies, though, given the Babel story.

I think the bombardment of various mythologies is tempered somewhat by the dazzling and very enjoyable dialogue. It is especially fun when Zofia and Enrique bicker. They are both so smart, but in very different ways, and it is amusing to watch the back-and-forth of Zofia being dry and literal and Enrique being sarcastic and snarky.
“What proof did you have? What was your research?”
“Superstition. Stories,” said Enrique, before adding just to annoy her: “A gut instinct.”

It's a very interesting read, both fun and packed full of history lessons. Unlike the author's other books, this one stays low on the romance and high on the scheming and politics. But if that disappoints you, don't worry. With lines like this, romance cannot be too far away:
“That boy looks like every dark corner of a fairy tale. The wolf in bed. The apple in a witch’s palm.”


CW: Racism; antisemitism; abuse.

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Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
January 11, 2022
This book is over and all I’m left with is a fucked-up sleep schedule and 100 more crushes on fictional characters that I don’t have time for.

Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews169k followers
November 28, 2020
Was I confused reading this book a majority of the time? YES. Did I still love it? YES. Why did I still love it? THE CHARACTERS. WOULD DIE FOR THEM. THEY DESERVE THE WORLD. I LOVE THEM. AMEN.
Profile Image for  Teodora .
306 reviews1,644 followers
April 1, 2023
4.25/5 ⭐

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺

As always, I have a mean confession to make: I started this book because of the pretty cover.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is, what we call in Romanian, a struțocămilă. That means the book is an ostrichcamel.

JK. It means it is a weird mixture of things – a hybrid, if you want me not to me so plastic in expression. I can’t seem to remember the word in English to express the same energy the word struțocămilă has, but I know that there is such a word and if you are kind enough to share the knowledge with me I’d be grateful.

Now coming back to my ostrichcamel theory, I just want to say that this book is an interesting mixture of childish action and brilliant information that I somehow love-hated. Maybe hate is a too strong word. Maybe I’ll replace that with „didn’t like”. So, I didn’t like the fact that even though the action is omnipresent, it was a bit confusing because of the writing style and also childish if you look from a more elaborated point of view. But I did like it because even though the action was so simple, it was packed with a more complex way of thinking and with very accurate historical and mathematical facts that in some ways blew my mind.

„Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It’s far more useful.”

In fact, I do agree with that because it seems like this book’s basis. There is an interesting mixture, as I said, of facts and actions that make more use of the imagination of a reader than of their wonder.

The mathematical logic of this book seems to be flawless, but this is my personal opinion, as a maths-scared kid that has no idea how numbers work. You can elaborate on the theory that 2+2=3.45 and give me three complex-looking arguments and I’ll agree with you and think of you as a genius beyond the complexity of this planet.

Okay, now, let’s see what kind of myths, symbols and legends are being broken down here.

This myth of the Babel Tower together with the symbol of an Eye of Horus is brought into a secret society thingy that tries to protect that very Babel myth. The Eye of Horus holds the sight of fragments from the Tower. Quite tangled huh? Dare I say all this happens in 19th century France or shouldn’t I bring it to you like that? (more on myths in the full review)

Pretty interesting so far, don’t you think? Another interesting thing is the composure of the characters. Every single one of them is an outcast with a sad or even terrifying background story.All the characters are well anchored both in the present and also in the past and this makes them somehow real in an unreal world.

„You are real, my girl, for you are loved.”

The best part about them though is not their stories, but the cultural diversity that links them together. It is so heart-warming to read about a homogeneous cultural group of outcasts; don’t you think?

- Séverin: the leader of the group, the heir of House Vanth, stripped from his title because of his origins – he was half French and half Algerian;

- Tristan: Séverin’s brother in soul if not in blood, a weird boy with a passion for plants and tarantulas;

- Laila: a marvellous, gorgeous and fabulous Indian girl with a terrifying story and an equally terrifying power in the palms of her hands, Séverin’s love interest and tbh mine too because she is a QUEEN;

- Zofia: a Jewish-Polish introverted genius who’s smarter than most of the people on the planet but has severe issues with expressing her feelings; to be completely honest, I somehow affiliate with Zofia and that makes her character a bit easier for me to handle;

- Hypnos: the rightful heir of House Nyx, a half French, half black Haitian drama queen with a great sense of fashion and also of humour that I’ve come to love, love, love!

- Enrique: the Spanish-Filipino historian of the group, with a wicked sense of humour and a brilliant mind who also appears to be bisexual which makes my ship-o-meter explode because I don’t know with whom do I ship him more!

Completely honest now, I wasn’t expecting them to be so diverse and so gorgeous together, but here they are. And I’d love for you to agree with me.

Unity in diversity says a well-known motto and this book seems to be all about it. After all, how can one plan world domination without the help of those who share the same intrinsic desire?

„But first, where’s the wine? I can’t discuss the end of civilisation without wine.”

Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.2k followers
January 18, 2019

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Sometimes the only way to take down what had destroyed you was to disguise yourself as part of it.”

Most of you know that Roshani Chokshi is one of my favorite authors. I loved both The Star-Touched Queen & A Crown of Wishes with my whole heart and soul! So, I knew when she was writing a brand-new series, about a found family completing heists and solving puzzles, that I wouldn’t be able to resist once I got my hands on an ARC. And friends, this was such a treat to read.

This is a historical fantasy set in alternate 1889 Paris, France, and in this alternate world, children will manifest magical powers by the age of thirteen. And there are two different kinds of magic; the magic of 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 very big mistake claiming the heir of one of those fallen houses as dead.

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

Séverin - Biracial (Algerian & French). For sure the leader of the group, who wants nothing more than to keep his crew safe and out of harm’s way. But he is on a mission to reclaim his true inheritance that was stolen from him with lies ten years ago, because he gets an offer than he couldn’t possibly refuse.

Laila - Indian (ownvoices), dancer, who is dealing with a lot of grief and a lot of anxiety over her past. She has the magical (matter) forging ability to touch any object and read it to know everything about it. And she desperately needs Séverin’s plan to work.

Tristan - White, and Séverin considers him his little brother, because they moved around a lot together in foster care. Also, Tristan loves his pet tarantula, Goliath, more than anything, but he’s still my favorite little gardener/botanist.

Zofia - On the Autism spectrum, Jewish, Polish, has anxiety, and a lot of her actions (in my opinion, as someone who has OCD) feels like she may also fall on the OCD spectrum. She finds comfort in numbers, needs to have things in their rightful place, and is willing to do any and everything for her little sister that she was forced to leave behind. Zofia also has magical forging abilities of the mind.

Hypnos - Black, queer (probably pan, maybe bi, and maybe even non-binary), heir of a French aristocrat but know he is also a descendant of slavery. His story line is a little rough at first, but you soon realize that he considers Séverin a brother to him, and honestly? Hypnos ended up being my second favorite character. Also, he made me giggle so much that my tummy hurt.

Enrique - Biracial (Filipino (ownvoices) & Spanish), queer (he is either bisexual or pansexual, but I’m not sure my heart can take reading about a half Filipino, pan character because it is all I’ve ever wanted in literature!) But, this character meant a lot to me. I am not sure I’ve ever read specifically about a biracial Filipino dealing with cultural erasure on both sides of their heritage before. I mean, this book is literally people trying to erase cultures from history, and Enrique is literally a historian, but seeing people make comments about his looks and biraciality just really hit home for me on a really personal level. I completely realize that there comes an immense privilege with being white passing but reading this book and feeling how real and hurtful it is when people disregard you and erase you because you don’t fit in their stereotypical mold of what a half Asian person should look like, but they also never let you forget that you’re not fully white. Yet, also not feeling like you truly fit in because of your lighter or more westernized features, even if they comment about it in a way that they believe is positive and a compliment. And Enrique also has to deal with people thinking that Asian people are interchangeable and thinking that their cruel and ignorant words are acceptable to say. I loved all the characters in this book, but Enrique just felt like the character I’ve been searching for for a very long while and he just really encompassed so many things that I hold inside myself every day. His character just meant a lot to me, and I will cherish him forever and always in my heart.

(Breathtaking art(s) by Nicole Deal!)

And this ragtag group of misfits come together and create something so beautiful that I hardly have words to describe it. This book heavily talks about colonization. And even though the heart of this novel is about a found family who unconditionally loves one another, the soul of this novel is about cultural erasure and how important it is to keep the traditions and history from your culture, no matter who tries to make you believe that theirs is superior. And this book really puts an emphasis of the terrible acts people will commit while saying that it’s for or because of a higher power.

“But the greatest thief of all was the Order of Babel, for they stole more than just objects . . . they stole histories”

But all these characters feel like a tier above the rest of what YA has to offer. They feel so real, their pain feels so raw, and you just want to protect them all at all costs. Roshani really is a master word weaver and I can’t help falling in love with every story she puts into the world. She is also the master of romance, and I was swooning extra hard for two people in this. (Also, the set up to book two will probably be the death of me!) As for the other romantic relationship, Roshani is either going to completely slay me with the love triangle or give me everything I’ve ever wanted with a polyamorous relationship. Lord, hear my prayers.

Also, because I don’t think I mentioned this above, a good portion of this book is set at a hotel called L’Eden where the crew lives and develops new advancements to help them with their missions. I know I’ve already gushed pretty hard over this book, but I love books that are set in hotels and inns so much, and it was just such an unexpected treat. Then again, Roshani always writes the best settings and my heart fell completely in love with a poisonous greenhouse in this story, too.

Overall, I just really loved this one. I am sure many people will compare The gilded Wolves to a mix of Six of Crows & The Da Vinci Code upon release, and I think that’s valid, bu I think it has its own unique spin, too. The cast is diverse and lovable, the writing is lush and beautiful, the themes are important and heartfelt, and the story is captivating and unputdownable. If you like a story with secrets and mystery, filled artifacts and puzzle solving, with a little romance and funny banter, then I completely recommend picking up The Gilded Wolves upon release.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for colonialism, cultural erasure, and racism (always challenged and in a negative light), blood depiction, mention of past suicide, loss of a loved one, bullying in the past, abandonment, anxiety attacks, mention of a stillbirth, and depictions of grief.

Buddy read with Kristi, Mel, Amy, Caidyn, Lily, & Alex! ❤
Profile Image for Sabaa Tahir.
Author 27 books31.8k followers
December 29, 2018
I read the first chapter of Gilded Wolves and was like "ok, I need to clear like 2 days because once I start this, I won't be able to put it down." AND SO IT WAS. Roshani perfectly balances the stories of Severin, Laila, Zofia, Enrique and Tristan, taking us on an unrelenting adventure through and alternative Paris filled with magic and intrigue and power-hungry families.

And the descriptions of food! And clothes! The fight scenes! The romance! I felt like I was living in this world, and am sort of grumpy that I'm not, to be honest.

One thing that stood out to me was the originality of the characters within their own identities--as marginalized characters who are dealing with issues that marginalized characters *would* deal with in real life--but in a historical fantasy. It's not often that you see that, and Roshani handles it beautifully, particularly as concerns Enrique and his half-Spanish, half-Filipino heritage. His longing to be part of a full-blooded Filipino group is explored with great skill.

And now...the wait for Book 2. Urgh. Write faster, Roshani, write faster!
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews87.5k followers
February 23, 2019
DNF @ pg. 37
UPDATE: I decided I'm just going to straight up DNF this. I didn't get very far but I just don't think this is a book for me. I think the concept is so cool but unfortunately the writing style didn't mesh with me.

I got about 40 pages into this and just felt very confused, especially since I've heard such rave reviews. I'm not DNFing, I'm just going to try again next month because I don't think this will help me to get out of my reading slump right now!

July 17, 2020

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Here we freaking go again. Once more the Conductor of Crushed Dreams and Disappointment™ has seen fit to kick me off the YA Hype Train. Most of my friends were singing this book's praises, and I was like, "Oh boy, a book about sexy heists with diverse main characters." And then what happens? WHAT HAPPENS? I pick it up, enjoy the first chapter, and then immediately lose interest as soon as the narrative seeps into something that I call Basic Bitch YA ™, and that someone with more sophistication than I would probably call "a flash in the pan." All these YA books these days seem to prance around in fancy prose, as if putting a silly and ornate hat on their tired storylines and lack of characterization will make up for it. Well, I see through your silly hats, YA books! I see through them and I am not amused.

I think what annoyed me about THE GILDED WOLVES is that it had a lot of potential. It has a steampunk vibe and is set in late 19th century Paris. (Does it capture the vibe and the style of Paris? Er, no. The language is very modern and anachronistic.) It has a huge cast of diverse characters. Laila is Indian. Zofia is Jewish and on the autism spectrum. Hypnos is multiracial and LGBT. Enrique is Filipino and LGBT. It's got an Indiana Jones meets Dan Brown meets Leigh Bardugo vibe. But that's it. The buck stops there. The characters are all childish, and the focus is more on their lame banter than on, well, actual heists. And when I say childish, I don't mean "typical teenager shenanigans!" I mean that this reads like a book for middle school students, with characters who are actually much older talking like kids who are much, much younger. I had the same problem with that Maggie Stiefvater book that everyone loves that I hated. It felt dumbed down, and I found the dialogue to be watered down and insipid. Such is the case here. The narrative writing is much better and I hoped it would go the way of Dhonielle Clayton's THE BELLES, where after a while the purple prose would get dialed back in favor of darker plots, but I was waiting right up until the end and wasn't really impressed with the reveal of the bad guy who was such an obvious bad guy and the mega-cheese of the magic artifacts.

I also didn't really dig how diversity was used in this book. It felt very gimmicky. And before you come bursting down my door to yell at me, no, I am not saying that diversity in and of itself is a gimmick or a trend and that is not the subject of my complaint. I, personally, felt like the characters in this book were not really fleshed out, and their diversity was just name-dropped and then, with the exception of a few reminders, ignored. All of their voices felt highly interchangeable, and I would have liked way more background on who they are and what makes them tick as individuals. Except for a few key elements about each of them, they were all written with exactly the same "voice." You might feel differently and think that they were sufficiently three-dimensional but for me, these characters felt more like a checklist being ticked off and less a portrayal of vibrant individuals who are bringing solid rep to the table. Again, you're free to disagree. I'm white and straight and none of this is really in my "lane." I call things as I see them and try to be honest about where I'm coming from in my views. This is just my personal opinion about what I viewed as happening in this book. 

If you enjoy authors like Renee Ahdieh or Maggie Stiefvater, then you'll probably enjoy Roshani Chokshi's writing. I didn't really care for either of those authors' works, which is probably why I didn't much care for THE GILDED WOLVES. I did find the idea of Forged objects interesting and I liked the idea of the characters more than I actually liked the characters themselves because representation is important (although it's certainly not the only factor in making a book good, and rep does not equal good rep by the very nature of existing) and some of the scenes, like the garden of sin and the illusion house, were fascinating. This book just felt way too young for me and watered down and bland, and I don't really think this is an author for me. Maybe she'll be the author for you.

1 to 1.5 stars
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
October 28, 2020
this book is serving some major ‘six of crows’ meets ‘the da vinci code' realness and i had no idea that was something i needed in my life until now.

gosh, with a story this good, where do i even begin? the massive cast of diverse and interesting characters who have each made their way into my small heart? the intricate and highly thought-out plot that constantly delivers twists and turns at every corner? the effortless and gorgeous writing which paints a historically stunning world filled with delicious food, breathtaking sights, and cunning individuals? this story is the ultimate treasure hunt and X marks everything i love about it.

and sure, no matter how much i rave about this, it isnt without its problems. there are some massive info dumps that take some effort to sort through, the acute focus on details can make the writing seem dense (and even confusing) at times, and there are some inaccuracies with the french translations. but once you get past those minor hiccups, this story has sooo much to offer.

i honestly feel that, with this book, roshani chokshi has finally come into her own and made the transition from queen to goddess. i am so glad this was signed on as a trilogy because i cant wait to see where this story goes and how its built upon. and i have a strong feeling i am not going to be disappointed.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
532 reviews34.5k followers
February 24, 2020
”The world has a shit memory. It will never pay its debts unless you force its hand.”

Ahh! Where to start? Where to begin? Maybe I should just go for blunt honesty and say it like it is: I could bite myself for not reading this sooner!!! What was I even thinking to procrastinate for so long? This book was already on "My Book List 2019" and it took me until 2020 to read it. (Which is actually sort of typical me! *lol*) Still, if we stick to honesty I’ve to admit that I’m kind of torn about having read “The Gilded Wolves”. Why is that so?

Well, on the one hand I loved those characters and their diversity! The plot was so much fun and I adored the puzzles and the fact that this book kept me on my toes and forced me to pay attention to what was happening. In some way “The Gilded Wolves” felt like the unknown lovechild of Dan Brown’s “Angels & Demons” and Leigh Bardugo’s “Six of Crows”. With a dash of its uncle “Indiana Jones” and a pinch of its aunt “Ocean 11” mixed into it. XD Plus, let’s not forget about the tension that oozed from every single one of those pages! All those six characters have a painful past they’d rather forget and want to go into a bright future instead. And boy, is Chokshi a master at playing their weaknesses in order to build up tensions! XD Just amazing! <333

On the other hand I find myself faced with a huge disadvantage now. I read the first book, loved it and now I’ll have to wait until the end of 2020 until I’ll be able to read the next instalment. Which is just cruel! I mean after THAT ending!!?? >_< ADFKADKFAKSJFDLKASDFJASKD!! I need answers and I need them soon! So I’ll finally get myself a NetGalley account (Yes, I’m THAT desperate to get my paws on a copy) and hopefully my wish for an ARC will be granted. (I’m crossing all my claws here. *lol*)

This said, let’s begin with my fangirl/rant feast! You can find the extended version (including my infamous category "The relationships & ships") of my review here! (I know why I got a blog! Because dang all I managed to write about were the six main characters. *sniff* Word limits will be the death of me, you're allowed to write that one my gravestone! T_T)

The Characters:

Welcome to the “Palais des Rêves”, where dreams come true and spoilers become reality! ;-P If you don’t want to be spoiled I’d advise you not to mingle with the crowd! It’s a fair warning and in your best interest! Mark my words before you decide to linger. XD

Séverin – The Leader:

”He was deception steeped in elegance, from his sharp smile to his unsettling eyes. Séverin’s eyes were the precise color of sleep – sable velvet with a violet sheen, promising either nightmare or dream.”

Chokshi definitely has a way with words. I could imagine Séverin so well and in my mind he’s drop-dead gorgeous. *drools* Still, his habit of chewing cloves might be a turn-off. *lol* Not that I don’t like cloves, I really like the taste and the smell, but only in small doses. The way Séverin popped them into his mouth it must have tasted more than just intense. Not that I’d fantasize about kissing him… Nuhu… not me. ;-P Anyway! His character kind of reminded me of “Gansey” (especially the habit of chewing on something. With Gansey it was mint leaves though) and he definitely was not only the leader of the group but also some sort of responsible father figure. I hated to find out about his and Tristan’s childhood and I think he might have named his foster fathers after the seven deadly sins. My buddy and I gave that a lot of thought and we eventually decided that they had other real names and Séverin only called them like that in his mind. Would be such a typical Séverin move. XD Also from all the characters in the book he was probably the most driven and torn. To be shunned by his family and to be denied his legacy wounded him deeply and I have no idea what will happen to him in the next book. I just hope he won’t go all “dark side”. >_<

”Séverin closed his eyes. It wasn’t about enough. Tristan would never understand. He had never felt the pulse of an entirely different future, only to see it ripped from his grasp and smothered in front of him. He didn’t understand that sometimes the only way to take down what had destroyed you was to disguise yourself as part of it.”

”Memories unsettled him. He hated the thought that he might have missed something, and he didn’t want time warping how he remembered things because he didn’t trust himself to remember without bias. And he needed to. Because only then, only with absolute impartiality, could he detect where he had gone wrong.”

Laila – L’Énigme:

”She hated seeing someone hold an empty plate and always thought everyone was hungry. She knew everyone’s secrets even without having to read their objects. At the Palais des Rêves, she turned that radiance into an allure that earned her star billing and the name, L’Énigme. The Mystery.”

Laila was such an intriguing character! She’s Indian, can read the history of objects (kinda reminded me of Tessa Grey) and is some sort of a sexy mother hen. Oh well, that sounded kinda wrong but it’s still true somehow? *lol* I think what I’m trying to say is that she cares about everyone and treats the crew like they are her children. XD I mean there’s a really domestic side to her. She bakes for her friends and listens to their troubles yet at night she’s L’Énigme and dazzles the crowd at the Palais des Rêves! She’s a temptress and no one seems to be more ensnared by her than Séverin! XD Just like with all of the other characters there’s something dark lurking in her past though, and to say this surprised me would be putting it mildly. As I understand it, she was a stillborn and forged into living with the help of the lives of a cygnet and a jungle cat? Which explains her dark fur-like hair and her black eyes. Apparently beings who are forged into life like that don’t live longer than 19 years or so though, so that’s the main reason why she’s trying to stay away from Séverin and working on finding a cure. And boy do I hope that she finds one! She’s way too young and too precious to die and her love to Séverin definitely needs a decent chance to thrive. Not that they are on good terms right now. Damn! >_< Also did anyone notice that “Laila” literally means “Born at night” in some cultures? If that’s no suitable name for her I dunno! ;-P

”She didn’t want to glide through life, unfeeling. She wanted to know everything while she could. She didn’t want the ghosts of thresholds not crossed hanging over her. She didn’t want one night. She wanted a chance.”

“Her mother's voice rang in her ears: 'Don't capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It's far more useful.”

Enrique – The historian:

”When he realized he didn’t have the talent, he chose to study the subjects that felt closest to Forging: history and language. He could still change the world… maybe not with something as dramatic or grand as Forging, but in more intimate ways. Writing. Speaking. Human connection.”

I admire that boy so much! Enrique is not only a revolutionary bisexual Spanish-Filipino (he could be pan too but judging by his thoughts I think he’s bi) but also an ardent historian! <3 And I loved that mixture! It made him a really interesting character and even though he obviously isn’t all too good at socializing he still had a great humour and an even quicker mind! That man is the full package and I was so there for it! XD Unlike the other members of the crew he didn’t have any Forging powers but he made up for it with his sharp wit, resourcefulness and seemingly infinite knowledge. I really would have loved to read more about him, especially at the ending!!! Because damn, was it too much to give us more info??!!! Chokshi left us completely in the dark about what happened to him, Hypnos and Zofia which is so NOT OKAY!!! I need answers! *dies*

”There were Forged dragons out of myths from the Orient, Sirenas with heavy-lidded eyes, bhuts with backwards feet. And though they were not all his tales, he saw himself in them: pushed to the corners of the dark. He was just like them. As solid as smoke and just as powerless.”

”Nothing but a symbol?” repeated Enrique quietly. “People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They’re not just lines. They’re histories, cultures, traditions, given shape.”

Zofia – The phoenix:

”A month later, ten students locked themselves in the lab with her. Again came the sounds, smells, laughing. The other students didn’t grab her. They knew the barest touch – like a feather trailed down skin – hurt her more. Calm slipped out of reach no matter how many times she counted backward, or begged to be let go, or asked what she had done wrong.”

Zofia is my precious, skilled phoenix! She’s Jewish-Polish and totally socially awkward. I really liked that she’s so shy and can get completely absorbed in her work. It’s kind of endearing and I always thought of her as the little sister of the group. I could picture her standing in her lab while she created new things, completely forgetting about the cookie Laila brought her. Apparently she was a victim of mobbing at the university and I despised her classmates for violating her that way. They might not have physically hurt her but they used her insecurity and aversion to touch to taunt and mentally abuse her and that’s just horrible! My poor little girl! Don’t hurt my Zofia or I’ll defend her like a lion! *grrr* Zofia is really great at maths too and her and Enrique were such a great team it was a pleasure to watch them figure out things together. I always had Beckett and Castle in mind when they threw their knowledge and ideas at each other. Just perfect. *lol* I can’t help but wonder what happened to her after Tristan’s death though. I mean Hypnos and Enrique kissed and judging by the hints that were dropped, to witness their kiss caused her to withdraw from the world again. Which is such a shame! >_< I really liked that she began to open up and I’d hate for her to be alone! *sends hugs to Zofia*

”What it could do did not seem within human grasp, but that was the thing about numbers. They weren’t like people, who could say one thing and do another. They weren’t like riddles of social mannerisms or conversations. Numbers never lied.”

”She was reminded of all that she could not detect. All that she could not do. She could storm into a room, but she could not command its attention through charm. She could face herself in the mirror, but she could not spark imaginations with her face. Zofia stepped back. She should stay in the world she knew. And not reach for one she did not.”

Tristan – The Botanist:

”His love and his fear and his own cracked mind made it easy to convince him that betraying you was saving you.”

Tristan was such a surprise. I mean he was clearly the crew’s baby brother who loved his tarantula Goliath and thought up little miniature gardens before he actually created them and made them a real and living thing. He was such an adorable boy and even though he shared his rather dark and twisted childhood with Séverin it seemed like he got out of it just fine. Well, at least it seemed like it. To be honest there was always something that troubled me about him and the words of Joux-Roubert certainly didn’t make it any better. The birds that disappeared from the garden… I knew there was something wrong with it. Hellz! I certainly didn’t expect it to end like that though! O_o Sweet, precious, little Tristan did WHAT??!!! OMG! I really would have loved to find out why he did that but I guess now we’ll never know… Or we might find out in the next book? I hope we do because that ending left such a huge question mark over my head and the fact that we never got Tristan’s POV makes it even harder to fathom why he would have done such a thing. Also is it just me or was it some sort of bad omen that Tristan never got his own POV? XD

”What? I’m hungry. What about you, Tristan? What do you want?”
“This,” Tristan said quietly. “Just this.”

Hypnos – The Patriarch

”He knew the other boy’s skin, a deep umber like the rain-soaked bark of an oak tree. He knew the textured hair cropped close to his head. Even knew his strangely colored eyes, a blue so pale they looked like panes of frost.”

At first Hypnos was no part of the crew but I ADORED that boy the moment he appeared! His first meeting with Séverin and Enrique was so amazing; I couldn’t help but fall head over heels for him. I loved his flair for the dramatic and his quirky and strangely innocent (even though he’s pretty good at threatening people!) nature. He’s an adorable walking and talking disaster and all I wanted was more!! XD It’s kind of strange that he’s the Patriarch of House Nyx but I’m sure he has skills and responsibilities we never even got to see. Just like with Tristan we didn’t get a Hypnos POV (well only that short chapter at the ending) and I can’t wait to read his thoughts! Let’s hope we’ll get to see them in the next book. Also Hypnos seems to be bi? Just a guess here because he showed obvious interest in Enrique but also sort of charmed Zofia? Maybe that was just my imagination though and he’s actually gay and only loves to flatter pretty women? *lol* I suppose I won’t know until I read “The Silvered Serpents”.

”What’s going on here” – said Hypnos, his voice rising as a bizarre grin spread across his face, - “is that you care for me. We’re all friends. We’re friends going to save another friend! This is… this is amazing!”

”I had to choose, and perhaps the Order forced my hand in this. But what no one tells you is that even when you decide which world you will live in, the world may not always see you as you would wish. Sometimes it demands that you be so outrageous as to transcend your very skin. You can change your name. Your eye color. Make yourself a myth and live within it, so that you belong to no one but yourself.”


“The Gilded Wolves” was everything I craved for and wanted to read! I loved to watch this story unfold, I adored the characters, their world, the diversity and all those puzzles! And I really, really, REALLY want to read the next book! *lol* A huge thanks goes to my partner in crime Miri the Book Dragoness for reading this book with me! I enjoyed our discussions and I can’t wait for your comments on the second book!!! Let me live vicariously through you! ;-P
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
662 reviews3,890 followers
September 11, 2020
He thought of the stories he'd heard growing up about the underworld. The tale of Orpheus, who looked behind him and lost everything. He wouldn't be that. He would descend and ascend, and lose nothing but a handful of time.

reread September 2020: I love them so much your honour


Friends, I have no words to describe how much I loved this book. (But also? I have too many words please scream with me??) This was such a fun historical fantasy, and I ADORED the cast. You know when you just instantly fall in love with every single character .. like you just know you would throw yourself in front of a bus for them .. yes that.

Also, THE OTP TO END ALL OTPS. I CANNOT even speak about how much I adored Laila and Severin as a ship! The angst! the drama! And that all the angst and drama seemed so real and not just annoyingly manufactured. URGH. I ADORE THEM.

This is one of my favourite books of 2019, I know it already even though it's January. I have so much to say and I just don't know how to physically use my fingers to type out the words to fully encapsulate how I feel about this book ... so I'm doing a spoiler free review then a rambly I NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS section at the bottom (you'll know when the spoilers are coming don't worry.


“Wolves were everywhere. In politics, on thrones, in beds. They cut their teeth on history and grew fat on war.”

The Gilded Wolves is such a high energy romp through a really intricately wrought Parisian historical-fantasy setting. The magic system and world is so fresh, and I haven't read anything much like it. (Seriously .. what is with all the Six of Crows comparisons? They're nothing alike). The world has this perfect blend of history, magic and technology which I loved. Think something like the world in Timekeeper or maybe The Diviners. Historical fantasy is quickly becoming one of my favourite genres and this book absolutely reminded me why - it is SO fun to have something magical set in a historic time period - and 1889 Paris is one I've never read from before.

Most importantly, The Gilded Wolves features such a beautiful six person ensemble cast, who immediately won me over with their charm and hilarity. I LOVE the found family trope and this book does it so well!! I also loved the established relationships - characters who are in past relationships or have known eachother for a while. For me it was really nice to jump into the middle of a group instead of going through all that "meet up/meet cute" stuff which often feels tedious to me. And as far as found families go, this one is ADORABLE. I loved all their interactions and banter, if you live for characters literally just talking to eachother and giving eachother shit you will LOVE THIS.

All in all we follow six main characters:

➵ Séverin: my SON !!! The leader of the group. He was the head of a powerful house, but his inheritance was stolen and now he wants it back. Definitely the protective father figure of the group, I liked how messy he is at times and that he definitely isn't perfect. Looking forward to where his character goes next.

➵ Laila: I ADORE HER. She was probably my favourite character. Laila is Indian and has the ability to read the history of objects. She is ADORABLE, I loved how she is the mum friend, but also she totally owns her sexuality and is super confident. My queen. That scene of her dancing, ended me. A hot bitch, please punch me in the face.

➵ Tristan: Sweetie who loves his giant spider, botanist who has the ability to grow giant gardens and is Severins best friend/adopted brother. Oooh his character is SO interesting to me (cannot get into too much without spoiling!) but my thought and expectations about him get getting all twisted up and I LOVED IT. Definitely not what you expected going in.

➵ Enrique: Spanish-Filipino historian and probably bisexual. Absolute nerd trying his best to interact with people and doing .... okay? He didn't have as much background as some of the other characters, but I loved how he interacted with the Filipino revolutionaries and I'm excited to see where his character arc goes next.

➵ Zofia: Okay full honest .. I don't know how to feel about her yet but I also feel like I could ADORE HER IN TIME. She is a Jewish-Polish girl who loves math and struggles with social interaction but also she just wants to be loved!! someone love her !! She has a rare magical gift and is overall pretty cool but I just didn't feel as attached to her as some of the others oop.

➵ Hypnos: I AM KIN WITH THIS MAN. What an angel! Hypnos is my other favourite charater alongside Laila. Recommends drinking wine when things are going wrong because "it won't help, but at least you won't remember" so in fact, extremely relatable. Loves fashion and is dramatic as hell, but also just wants a pal. I would die for him, too precious too pure. He is a French aristocrat, leader of the powerful House Nyx, he is black and gay.

“Am I pretty?” asked Enrique, plucking at his fake beard and patting his hands over his jowls, wrinkles and age spots. “Be honest.”
“‘Pretty’ is a stretch. Let’s call you ‘striking.’ Or ‘impossible to look away from’.”
“Oooh. Like the sun?”
“I was thinking more along the lines of a train wreck.”

I am gonna be real and say this is not a perfect book. At times the worldbuilding and magic system was a little confusing for me .. but overall I loved this book and loved reading it so much I don't care. I mostly rate books based on enjoyment and sometimes you enjoy a book so much you can ignore it's little faults. That is how I felt about The Gilded Wolves. It made me fall so in love with the characters, and I had such a fun fun time reading it I just honestly don't care. What I also love about this book is I KNOW I could reread it (and soon!), and books I know I can enjoy more than once always are the ones I love most.

Quick rant: what is WITH all the soc comparisons? The only similarity is having a six person cast and heist elements both of which were ... not invented by Six of Crows?? Personally I think it does this book a disservice to compare it to Six of Crows when they're SO DIFFERENT and not even the same genre/magic system/character tropes or anything. URGH. Do better reviewers.

“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 is such a fun book! The cast is adorable, and the ending has set up book two in such a huge way, I can barely wait. This book is solid throughout, action packed, and doesn't have a single dull moment. The character relationships, angsty ship and dramatic last 100 pages really elevated this book for me and I cannot tell you how much I TRULY adored it. I think there is something for everyone here, and I really think if you enjoy books with angsty romance, found families, heist elements, or mythology based/historical fantasy elements and setting YOU NEED TO READ THIS.



That ship ..... folks, when you know you KNOW and what I know is that if Roshani Chokshi had smashed me in the face with a spade it would have been less painful then what I just read.

OMFG I LOVE LAILA AND SEVERIN?? First of all, how nice to have a ship with actual HISTORY. Wow that is refreshing. I was so bored of the "meet cute now they need to kiss in the next three hundred pages". it's boring and kills tension. I loved their dynamic, like omg, how everytime she comes into the room Severin is SHOOK. And that scene where she's dancing?? Wow I died. AND OM THE END. We're gonna get the shares a bed trope, I'm living. I loved how mature they seemed to, like it was nice to have a couple that had had sex and it isn't this Big Dramatic Thing. (Like ok it is, but not bc they think sex is dramatic but because of all the Other Stuff happening). Urgh, their dynamic kills me I love them. Everytime they had a scene together I was screaming. ALSO ALL OF SEVERINS THOUGHTS AND JOKES ABOUT SLEEPING WITH HER ...... LORD.

Laila and Severin the angsty ship to end all others ??? Like, thanks Roshani for murdering me I love it??

OKAY THE END. I definitely think Severin has to be part of the Fallen House for sure, which is interesting. I wonder if there is gonna be like an anti-hero plot or something for him? I kinda hope not, but I feel it Could happen? And it may be interesting if it did.

Also .. Tristan. I was soo shook with the bird thing at the end. Idk how to feel about him now, I think I definitely need to reread and pay more attention to him. I am definitely interested to see what else comes about him in the next books.

FINALLY .. HYPNOS/ZOFIA/ENRIQUE? I kinda liked Hypnos and Enrique more but also I'm hoping for a polyam ship? But urgh, when Zofia saw them kissing my heart broke for her. But Hypnos is my MANS, I would really die for him so whatever makes him happy .. I'm on bored for it. And I just liked his dynamic with Enrique throughout the whole book lmao.

Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
369 reviews978 followers
April 30, 2022
Apparently, this is the first in a TRILOGY! YAY!

I really loved this! (Even though the ending broke me!)

This book was pretty confusing at times, in regards to the world building, but the character development, and their relationships with one another, were where the book truly shined. My absolute favourite characters were Zofia, Hypnos, and Tristan...which definitely attributed to me not enjoying the ending (and you know what I’m referring to, if you’ve read it).

Honestly, for all the Six of Crows-esque marketing, this book had very little in common with it. If anything, it was more Indiana Jones meets the DaVinci Code. The heists were more intricate here and there was nonstop action, enthralling me as I turned page after page. Also, there were puzzles and maths! While Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows builds up to the heist as the story progresses, this was a series of different ones, which definitely made for a more interesting read, in my opinion. It kept bringing me back for more, even though I took a lifetime to read it!

I felt like some of the diverse representation was even...gratuitous, at times. While I appreciated it’s inclusion, it came across more as a variety of character tropes, rather than giving us important context as to their backgrounds. Laila is the only who seemed to be truly defined by her Indian background. The one I was most excited for, Zofia, a Jew, was ultimately disappointing because I would never have known she was Jewish if it had not been explicitly stated multiple times. Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver provides much better representation in that aspect because being Jewish was actually a big part of who she was as a person. Here, it seemed to be more of an additional character trait, simply included to develop her backstory. Zofia never once referenced her actual faith, just the prejudice she was subjected to from her former classmates. I was hoping for a bit more than this. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

On a more positive note, I adored this smorgasbord of mythologies: Abrahamic, Greek, Egyptian...I loved it all! In addition, the Forged sphinxes reminded me a lot of Rachel Caine’s Great Library series, which was definitely a bonus. The lyrical writing style was also lovely, but never overwhelming.

I really did enjoy this book and shall definitely be picking up the sequel next year...but my excitement for it has lessened a bit, unfortunately, due to the ending of this instalment. Hopefully, the sequel shall provide the closure that I desire. I’m definitely looking forward to giving the Star-Touched Queen duology a go, as well! :)
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
August 29, 2020
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, in 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 have a story. I guess. In mid-2016, I read this book called Six Of Crows, a frequent comp to this book. I had just started a Goodreads account at this point and wrote brief reviews only; I was reading a couple hours a week, maybe. But that book... I fell in love. I still vividly remember the details of my reading experience. On a more visceral level, it made me fall in love all over again with reading; I basically doubled how much I was reading overnight.

In the three years since I first read that book, I have experienced that sensation of falling in love with reading all over again very, very rarely — I think I can name approximately ten books that have made me feel that way. This book is the closest I’ve come to replicating that feeling, in three years.

So, why was I so obsessed with this?

First of all, The Gilded Wolves a heist fantasy about a group of criminals in 1890s Paris, which is just a concept I was put on this planet to enjoy. This heist involves a lot of puzzles, including a golden ratio puzzle. I am a nerd and I found this really delightful. The plot is intriguing, drawing you along carefully, and though there aren’t any twists that blew my mind, there were quite a few that surprised me (which is hard! at this point! I’ve read so many heist books!) This genre is so wonderful because it is so very satisfying seeing puzzle pieces come together to a twist or reveal or even just a solution.

I’m a really big fan of the fact that the main plot of this book is a metaphor for colonialism’s erasure of culture, but the characters are also dealing with the real-life effects of colonialism (because it’s still 1889 Paris?) The Order of Babel, formerly four houses, has been taken over by two, who have erased the legacies of the old. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out the metaphor here and hence Chokshi doesn’t try to make it any more obvious. It’s just there! Being the main plot of the book! I liked this.

The dynamics between the group are so good, and so entertaining but full of so much genuine love and care. There’s a moment where Severin asks for Laila’s report and Hypnos answers him, in detail, and then Severin just replies “are you Laila?” I loved that.

These characters are really compelling, as well. Severin is deeply ambitious but also concerned for those around him, a combination I really like and think deserves more pagetime in literature. Laila could kick my ass any day and also should do so (I’m available every Thursday afternoon, hit me up). Anxiety legend. Deserves the world. Enrique is a very entertaining character and also a future historian. I loved him. Hypnos is a character I loved seeing grow: he’s a sometimes manipulative but sometimes genuinely loving character, and Tristan is a gardening nerd and deserves to be protected (but also was the character I found myself the least personally invested in).

Zofia, though, was by far my favorite character in this book. Yes, I’m picking favorites, and yes, she is the best character in this book, do not @ me. Zofia is a magic forger who has autism and thus, her brain works in slightly different ways. She has been kicked out of a school, an event that was almost certainly influenced by antisemitism. She is also not totally on the understanding-that-people-are-flirting-with-her kick. She loves numbers and also people not messing with her area (a mood). I like that she’s written with clear differences in how she interacts with the world, but is never put in situations where she’s villainized for it, or where other characters act as if she’s being manipulative. Her sense of humor is so dry. Did I mention that I’d absolutely die for her.

(Something I kind of love about these characters is that all of them have somewhat dark backstories, but none of them have lost their love and kindness. We’re all just in this world with dark pasts attempting to find tenderness and that is how it is.)

I should also mention that of these main characters:
→One is biracial (Algerian and French). Colonialism is discussed.
→One is Indian and has anxiety.
→One is Jewish and autistic. Bigotry is discussed.
→One is black and biracial and queer. Slavery is discussed. Also, the gender of it all.
→One is both biracial (Filipino and Spanish) and queer.
It was honestly so hilarious seeing a review pretty low down on the page lambasting the fact that these characters are almost all people of color, because forced diversity or something. It’s a novel about colonialism in the 1890s. You realize that’s the point, right?

There are multiple romances-maybe going on in this book and I support them all. One of them is a slow-burn occurring between two characters who may or may not have history, which is a weirdly rare trope considering how instantly compelling it is. The other is… oh god, I guess this is a spoiler but I didn’t specify characters if you want to click it —

I absolutely loved the setting of this. I am not typically a worldbuilding hoe but I am such a fan of fantastical cities with gorgeous exteriors hiding very dark interiors. The intrigue of it all! There’s something Chokshi said in the author’s note that really resonated with me:
➽I couldn’t reconcile the horrors of that era with the glamour of it, which, up until then, was what had stood out in my imagination of the 19th century: courtesans and the Moulin Rouge, glittering parties and champagne… History is a myth shaped by the tongues of conquerors. I wanted to write this trilogy not to instruct or condemn, but to question. [...] Question what is gold and what glitters.

This book is truly a love letter to remembering both the good and the bad of your past, and recognizing that even in the midst of beauty and innovation, there is horror and depravity. I’m really interested to see where the politics of colonialism go in the sequels, especially.

The only reason I haven’t been yelling more about this is that I have to say: this wasn’t perfect. My main actual issues with this book come primarily from areas in which I felt editing could have been improved. There’s somewhat of an overuse of ellipses that should have been edited out; for the most part the setting descriptions are incredible but there are like two places where they’re sort of confusing; the running flashbacks to Severin’s parents are just honestly kind of overdramatic and don’t really add that much; the time jumps towards the end feel just a little fast and should’ve been maneuvered into better pacing. But none of these issues ever, on a personal level, took me particularly far out of the story. I am always in critic brain mode, but it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the story at all. (Rereading this review, I'm struck by the realization that I do not remember a single one of these complaints.)

I also have a question about some of the reviews on this page: “Diversity is not a substitute for personality” is certainly a take, but why can’t we just… say we found the characters flat, or not compelling? I personally didn’t find these characters flat, but finding them flat is a perfectly reasonable view; different strokes for different folks. It’s just… why is it, exactly, that we’ve connected “the characters are diverse” with “the characters have no personality?”

Because personally, the trend I’m seeing is that YA fantasy books have been dealing in flat characters for years (I love young adult literature as a genre but let us be very honest about a good 75% of the dystopian fiction trend), and it is only now that the YA market has like, anyone other than straight white people in it that reviewers are somehow connecting flat characters with diversity.

I don’t know. I just think it’s funny.

Anyway. The point is, I really really loved this book, and I think you will also like it if you enjoy a) heist fantasy with puzzles, b) rooting for an entire cast of characters, c) romances with historyTM and/or fantasy polyamoryTM, d) cities with dark underbellies, and e) discussing the historical weight that colonialism has left on us all. I can't wait for book two.

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Profile Image for Era ➴.
215 reviews527 followers
November 10, 2022
I will never get over this book.

“People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They're not just lines. They're histories, cultures, traditions, given shape.”

This killed me. I mean it really killed me. It dragged me kicking and screaming into the catacombs of overwhelming beauty and precious, amazing characters.

Kidding. I went willingly because I was promised chocolate-covered strawberries.

But then I was ripped to shreds, so that was fun.

“Scars sculpted people into who they were. They were scuffs left by sorrow's fists, and to him, at least, proof of being thoroughly human.”

Quick statement: I’m one of the very few people who thinks that this book and Six of Crows are both unique and equal. I read this one three times before I picked up SoC, so naturally I’m more attached to this one. But to me, they’re different enough that I didn’t compare them until I saw other people comparing them.

Now that I’ve said something somewhat logical, I can start rambling. And screaming.

“Take what the world owes you by any means necessary,” Pride had said. “The world has a shit memory. It will never pay its debts unless you force its hand.”

I picked up this book because of the cover. I read the synopsis, then the prologue, then decided it would be worth checking out of the library just because of how pretty the cover was. Even if I didn’t care about the plot.

I loved it.

“Aristocracy is just a fancy word for thievery.”

The plot was so engaging and complex that it left me breathless. This is commonly described as a heist story, and that’s basically what the plot is, but it’s so much more than that too. It’s a complex revenge story, it’s a romance, and it’s a quest. It’s so rich and dramatic.

There was so much that went into the storyline that it lost me for the first couple of chapters. I couldn’t tell what was going on for the first quarter of the book, because my brain cell finds it hard to play catch-up, but then I started understanding how everything worked. It shook me. And then my brain cell started dying again because of all the plot twists and how everything changed and -


“One house fell. And another house's line died without an heir. Now all that is left is a secret.”

The storyline was done well. You can tell that much. But I think the pacing of the book was a little on-and-off. Some places were slower than others, and some of them made my brain scramble again. It wasn’t a dramatic contrast of “oh my God what’s happening” to “oh my God nothing is happening”. More like “holy shit WHAT” to “they’re more relaxed now, which means more shit will be happening.”

“He didn't understand that sometimes the only way to take down what had destroyed you was to disguise yourself as part of it.”

The characters are part of my heart and I cannot fucking believe how incredible and perfect and beautiful they are. I literally just cannot. This gang is my BABIES and I had such a strong attachment to them that it literally should not be possible.

“That boy looks like every dark corner of a fairy tale. The wolf in bed. The apple in a witch's palm.”

Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is the owner of L’Eden hotel, a very well-known luxury hotel in Paris. He was denied his birthright as a patriarch of House Vanth of the Order of Babel, and now has turned to “acquiring” (aka stealing back) the heirlooms that were seized from him.

Séverin is cunning, aristocratic in his own way, and basically the stern dad of the group. His sass is underappreciated and he’s a bit of a dumbass in the best way. His characterization is done so elaborately and beautifully. He’s just a gorgeous character.

Seriously. Look at his fanart.

“Her mother's voice rang in her ears: “Don't capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It's far more useful.”

Laila is an Indian dancer who rules the Parisian stage as the scandalous cabaret dancer titled “L’Enigme.” Outside of her grand role, Laila is a sweet baker who takes care of her friends and bakes pastries.

Laila’s backstory and secrets were so rich. Her empathy and ability to perform are such gorgeous parts of her characterization. I fell in love with Laila from the moment she woke up at dawn to make a croquembouche. This queen could poison me with fruit tarts or throw me off the stage and I would thank her for it. Except that she’s too nice for that and is basically the loving mom-friend of the group. She’s also my favorite.

“Séverin crossed his arms. “Zofia, tell him he’s pretty.”
Zofia didn’t look up from her tea. “I am personally undecided, but if we’re assessing based on objectivity, then according to the principles of the golden ratio, also known as phi, which is approximately 1.618, your facial beauty is mathematically pleasing.”

Zofia Boguska is a precious awkward bean who can’t socialize and would rather be doing mathematics or setting fires. I loved how awkward yet charming she was. I actually didn’t know until after the second time I read this book that Zofia is canonically on the autism spectrum, and I was so happy to see that representation for the first time.

I loved how Zofia’s narrative showed how she thought and how even though everyone else didn’t quite understand her, it made perfect sense in her head. Her awkwardness and stunning intelligence were so amazing and I love her. She’s secretly such a badass and I’m just obsessed with how well-done her character was.

“Enrique, who had always dreamed about what magic might feel like, thought he had found it then: myths and palimpsests, starlight sugaring the air, and the way hope feels painful when shared equally among friends.”

Enrique Mercado-Lopez is a half-Spanish half-Filipino history nerd who might be considered the main source of sass in the group. He loves cake and mythology and symbolism and has a tendency to be good-naturedly annoying to all of his friends.

His character was a lot of fun and I loved how his narrative alternated between dramatic daydreams and a lot of sarcasm. I also loved how he was basically the “writer friend” of the group (that’s a thing).

“So? Today I am wearing underwear. That’s hardly monumental.”

Hypnos was the fabulously sarcastic drama queen friend. He annoyed me at first, but he grew on me. Hypnos’ flair and vanity eventually became endearing. Hypnos is the patriarch of House Vanth and has a bit of a rivalry with Séverin.

His character depth was revealed so slowly and I loved it. This boi is just a fabulous child and I am here for his antics.

“Look! I thought Goliath was dying, but he’s fine. He just molted.”

Tristan Maréchal is basically the baby of the group. He’s a precious cinnamon roll who is attached to his enormous tarantula, appropriately named Goliath, and Séverin, who acts as an older brother to him.

Honestly, I didn’t like Tristan as much as everyone else. He just felt so much flatter in comparison to the others. He was characterized well, but I just couldn’t attach to him the way I did everyone else.

“What would friendship entail?”
“Well, on Wednesdays, we sacrifice a cat to Satan.”

The relationship dynamics had me sobbing. The characters and their relationships were written so well. The banter, sass, tension and romance were just -

“Though the room was nearly dark, whatever light clung to its corners now raced to illuminate Laila. It seemed the world couldn't help but want to be near her...every beam of light, pair of eyes, atom of air. Maybe that was why sometimes he couldn't breathe around her.”

Laila and Séverin’s tension had me on the ground. Their romance was so heart-wrenching. She even calls him “Majnun” from the Arabic folktale of star-crossed lovers, Laila and Majnun.


I was obsessed with the way they both knew they couldn’t be a thing and still desperately longed for each other. The mutual pining was done so fucking well. It was literally such an amazing slow-burn mixed with forbidden-love. Laila and Séverin were executed perfectly.

“Kisses were not supposed to be like this. Kisses were to be witnessed by stars, not held in the presence of stale death. But as the bones rose around them, Laila saw fractals of white. They looked like pale constellations, and she thought that, perhaps, for a kiss like this, even hell would put forth stars.”

Séverin’s relationship with Tristan was also amazing. It was such an important plot point but it was also so major for their characterization. The protective-brother relationship was such a precious bond.

“After what felt like forever, Tristan turned over his own hand. The silvery scar down his palm matched Séverin’s. Neither of them knew where Tristan had gotten his scar. But it didn’t matter. Finally, Tristan placed his hand over Séverin’s, stacking their scars before saying: “I protect you.”

Also, the friendship banter was perfect.

“Have you never heard the saying “you attract more flies with honey than vinegar?”
“Why would I want to attract flies?”
“Never mind.”

The group dynamic was just so fun and I was obsessed with these characters and how they got along (as you can definitely tell).

“Fashion, my love, just like the universe, owes you neither explanation nor rationale.”

I usually hate love triangles, but I have to address this one. The two couples were equally done and the tension and attraction for both pairs was so perfect that I didn’t even realize it was a love triangle until the end.

Also, one of the pairs is a gay ship. Technically not gay, since they���re both bi (Hypnos might be pan, not really sure). But Enrique x Hypnos is an MLM ship.

“Enrique used to feel a twinge of shame when it came to his feelings…He used to pray that when it came to attraction, his body would just choose between men and women, and not both. It was his second-oldest brother, bound for priesthood, who told him that God made no mistakes in crafting their hearts. Enrique still hadn’t quite parsed out his own relationship to faith, but what his brother said had made him stop hating himself. It made him stop turning from what lay inside him and embrace it.”

The world-building was perfect. I was obsessed with how Roshani Chokshi made 1890’s Paris into something so intricate and gorgeous. She blended mythology and symbolism with hard science and math. The setting and tone of the book were just -

The magic system and Order of Babel stuff was confusing at first, especially because it felt really complex when I started the book. But once I understood it, the Forging element was so rich. I loved how Forging felt so personal to the characters.

“All along the walls were small terrariums, landscapes squeezed into miniature form. Tristan made them almost obsessively. When she asked him once, he told her it was because he wished the world were easier. Small enough and manageable enough to fit in the hollow of one's palm.”

Added to this, the atmosphere was so rich and luxurious and full of magic. It was amazing. I could not believe how lush everything felt. It felt like I was there wandering the city of Paris, and I could feel the magic and taste the perfume on the air, and it was gorgeous.

“I don't want to be their equal. I don't want them to look us in the eye. I want them to look away, to blink harshly, as if they'd stared at the sun itself. I don't want them standing across from us. I want them kneeling.”

The writing. Oh my God, the writing. I’m a sucker for descriptive, rich writing styles, and Roshani Chokshi hardcore delivered. It fucked me up. These quotes literally lived up to the expectations set for me by the pretty cover.

“History is a myth shaped by the tongues of conquerors.”

The metaphors weren’t over the top, but still fancy. The prose was lyrical, but straightforward when it had to be. And each character’s perspective was done perfectly.

“He was deception steeped in elegance, from his sharp smile to his unsettling eyes.”

“Everything about him had been so carefully put together. But it didn't matter how well one's clothes fit if the skin didn't.”

“Half of winning, my dear wallet, is simply looking victorious.”

“He wished he didn’t know what he had lost. Maybe then every day wouldn’t feel like this. As if he had once known how to fly, but the skies had shaken him loose and left him with nothing but the memory of wings.”

And the diversity. I’m obsessed with how Roshani Chokshi gave us so many different races, cultures and backgrounds in one set of characters. The way their histories were shaped by racial perception was written beautifully, but in a subtle way that didn’t draw attention to it - exactly how it is in real life.

Hypnos, who is half-Haitian, isn’t taken seriously by the Order of Babel, even after becoming a patriarch. He’s forced to leave behind part of his heritage in order to seem like one of them. He has to change himself to be seen as legitimate.

“But what no one tells you is that even when you decide which world you will live in, the world may not always see you as you would wish. Sometimes it demands that you be so outrageous as to transcend your very skin. You can change your name. Your eye colour. Make yourself a myth and live within it, so that you belong to no one but yourself.”

This book addressed racism and the dehumanization of other races so beautifully. It addressed the way we’ve whitewashed our history into making us believe that “it wasn’t that bad.” Of course it wasn’t that bad. It was worse.

“When we revise the horror and sanitize the grotesque, we risk erasing the paths that led us here.”

Overall, “The Gilded Wolves” earned its place on my favorites shelf, no qualms about it. I’m obsessed with the world, I’m obsessed with the characters, and I’m obsessed with the writing. I went into this book because I was given a pretty cover and a vague promise of La Belle Époque Paris, and I left shredded with six new characters to die for.

“Wolves were everywhere. In politics, on thrones, in beds. They cut their teeth on history and grew fat on war.”
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,203 reviews40.8k followers
January 4, 2021
This book is mostly introduced as Six of Crows meets Da Vinci Code, which is enough for me to jump in and start my reading quest! But they forget the team members, their characterization and leadership of Severin reminded me of the series “Leverage” so much! (Especially Severin and Laila’s shared past and their undeniable chemistry are similar with Nathan and Sophie’s relationship. I watched just for Coupling’s amazing Gina Bellman)

I have to admit I had a little hard time to focus on the story because there was too much mixed mythological information bombardment hit my head which actually works a little slow lately. (several times I hit my forehead or scratch the top harshly to reset grey cells. When it didn’t work, I swallow six fish oil tablets, washing them with disgusting green tea just fasten my metabolism and clearing my mind and I finally pray to God give me more wisdom! Of course my methods never work!!!)

We have Greek, Biblical, Chinese mythology and mathematical equations at the same plate. (Yes, that’s absolutely my definition of I have too much in my plate so I have to throw up to create some space like skinny trophy wives!) So your head spins, you have to reread some parts again and again because there are also third person perspectives need your more energy and focus not to decide to shelve this book as “DNF”! I kept reading patiently because of historical Parisian atmosphere and well-rounded character development (we also have too many characters in our plate but all of them are so much likable! That’s great job because not so many authors could achieve to put small ingredients of sympathy to their own characters which truly make me drop the books immediately.)

So yes, the story opens in Paris, the year is 1889, during Exposition Universelle. We witness 13 years old children manifest their magical powers one by one and a well-known, strong society named “Order of Babel” build by four houses. But two of them took over ten years ago which brings the story and the important purpose of our main character Severin. (Algerian and French charm shakes us with his quiet oh lalala charisma) Severin reclaims his true inheritance which was stolen ten years ago and his pursuit to take his share drags him to fight against Horus Eye. But can he do it alone? NO FREAKING WAY! HE NEEDS A POWER TEAM.

And… here is our competent, magnificent, magical team members:

Laila: A vivid, attractive Indian woman: She is full time dancer and part time pastry chef( Dreamy combination of so many guys’ inner fantasies!) She has a history with Severin (I definitely root for them as a gorgeous couple.
Isn’t it getting hot in here? Too much tension, chemistry and hotness filled the pages already!) She has also sixth sense like touching objects and seeing things about them.

Tristan: Severin and him spent their childhood in foster care so he could be defined as sweet, little brother with cute tarantula named Goliath ( a fantasy book boyfriend for the women), animal lover, gardener, botanist, yes he has quiet fantastic resume, doesn’t he? (Wink wink)

Zofia: She is absolutely one of my favorites. On the spectrum of Autism spectrum, Jewish Polish (just like one of my real life best friend) She feels too much, adapting issues with the group members(mostly she cannot catch their jokes and having hard time to form a relationship with them) and relaxes herself with mathematical equations, problems. She has a sister she left behind and she is ready to do anything for her well being.

Hypnos: This character definitely hypnotized me with his sweetness and smartness. He is black queer ( even though he is heir of French aristocrat, he is still descendant of slavery.) He was the childhood rival of Severin and now they formed some kind of bromance which fits well with the entire story. He is funny, he is smart, easy to resonate.

Enrique: I think he is also my favorite, too. Biracial ( Spanish and Filipino) queer character, he is also so smart, witty, entertaining, knowing lots about history.

Overall: I got really confused so many times because of too much informational uploading about different cultural and mythological facts mixing with mathematical puzzles and too much narrative voices. But the real history parts fit so well with the story’s development and it is impossible not to connect with those amazing characters.

So I rounded up my 3.5 stars to 4. I’m so lucky cow to receive the second book of the installment which won’t be released till the second half of 2020. So a few books later I’m going to jump in! I need to read more stories of them (I truly feel like they’re my real friends with the author’s great visualization.) And of course we all need of more Parisian vibes, mystery, getting lost in more puzzles and mythology and of course more SEVERIN please!
Profile Image for Maryam Rz..
220 reviews2,654 followers
February 4, 2023
(4.5 ★’s)

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.

If Six of Crows and The Da Vinci Code dallied and ended up with a love child that was more poetic than both of them, The Gilded Wolves would be it. Unpopular opinion coming your way.

Quiet but alluring, elegant but genius, character-driven but wildly mysterious. This slow and delicate historical fantasy of riddles and cryptography, this heist book slash epic fantasy slash steampunk set in a 19th century Paris of cultured aristocratic societies hiding a corrupt system, this bewitchingly written tale of horrors beneath the glamour of La Belle Époque soaked in magical tech and dripping with diversity...floored me.

Lust taught him that a broken heart made a fine weapon, for its pieces were exceptionally sharp.
“Lust is safer than love, but both can ruin you.”

Roshani Chokshi weaves history and its darker stains of cultural appropriation and erasure into an atmospheric yarn of the most exquisite colours, painting the Seven Sins Garden of L’Eden, mixing magic, science, and technology into an art of the ancient world, connected to the myth of creation. It’s a meticulously crafted picture, but also an adventure.

“Take what the world owes you by any means necessary,” Pride had said. “The world has a shit memory. It will never pay its debts unless you force its hand.”

The Gilded Wolves is ultimately about the clever thievings—or should I say acquisitions, to keep it gentlemanly—and flowing heists of a group of shunned outsiders each with a seperate dream and path, stuck together out of necessity and forming bonds and swapping banter. But mostly, it is about them who find the most rewarding things to be the dangerous ones, who will fight for what they believe in, and who need to be careful who and what they hunt lest they mistake predator for prey.

Because in a France where the four Houses used to safeguard the source of all Forging power until one House fell and another’s line died with no heir, there is a secret and a system of the privileged self-righteous in power, and “sometimes the only way to take down what had destroyed you was to disguise yourself as part of it.” The fallen will rise, and being in their path will not end well for anyone.

“Think about what this could mean for us. It could bring us everything we wanted.”
Enrique dragged his palm down his face. “You know how moths look at a fire and think, ‘Oooh! shiny!’ and then die in a burst of flames and regret?”
“Right. Just checking to be sure.”

Why in the world did people not love this? What they call slow I praise, what they call info dumps I find intriguing information, what they call bland characters I fall in love with. I don’t know and no longer care what happened here, my only criticism is of explanations that could have been clearer and plotting that could have been slightly better at the end.

In honour of Paris, watch me pick Parisian landmarks for my highlights:

Arc de Triomphe: Heist & Mystery

“Aristocracy is just a fancy word for thievery, my dear wallets. I am simply embodying what I was innately born with, you see?”

Before a book about a found family or possibly saving the world, I would say one of the most prominent aspects of this first installment is the tools and methods used to breathe life into the plot. By choosing to use riddles, cryptography, mathematics, science, and history as the backbones of the book’s heist storyline, Chokshi took The Gilded Wolves to a whole new level of ingeniousness and me by utter surprise. I simply cannot get enough of her mystery writing. I just thought I should note this before continuing.

Eiffel Tower: Characters & Diversity

Credit: Nicole

Despite some of my friends’ criticism, I found myself wholly connected to the cast of The Gilded Wolves. They were not bland or their diversity just items on a list—in fact, their tiny quirks, unique habits, and insistent preferences served to bring them right out of the page. Yes, the characterisation and representation (which was not transparent and showed itself in various aspects of their lives) is indeed slow and not at all loud; what it is is exquisite.


“I don’t want to be their equal. I don’t want them to look us in the eye. I want them to look away, to blink harshly, as if they’ve stared at the sun itself. I don’t want them standing across from us. I want them kneeling.”

Here we have the tortured, scheming, vengeful, ambitious, greedy, restrained head of our unlikely gang and, truth be told, I was mighty hesitant about him at the beginning because who wants another flat trope repeated for the 100th time. I need not have worried—Séverin might be a trope but he is not flat and rather flesh and bone and blood; he is a person and not a list of limited characteristics.

“You could’ve been hurt.”
“It’s the price one pays for chasing wants,” he said lightly. “The problem is, I have too many of them.”

So, while our proprietor of L’Eden had a painful childhood that lead to a leashed one-track mind solely focused on collecting his dues, his story is uniquely his; his hurt, his wants, his neglected desire—no, need—for a family and hesitation as a result of a childhood of abandonment and abuse at the hand of his guardians, are tangible facets of the book and crucial to the tale. And while he is the arrogant, shamelessly reaching leader who knows no hesitation in taking extreme measures, his efficiency, perception, fairness, and strategic mind are shown and not just told. He succeeds in making his own as he sits comfortably amidst the gilded wolves.


“Tristan, my love,” said Laila with dangerous calm. “If you get in the way of a woman’s battle, you’ll get in the way of her sword.”

Hi this is Mary and I’m in love with a relentlessly radiant, slightly feral slightly soft, living goddess. L’Énigme, this breathtaking dancer and performer in full control of her audience who feels at home in kitchen with her flour and cookies. Oh yes I am in love with this Indian young woman who unapologetically and courageously marches forward and holds her faith and culture close to heart. She can totally step on me, I’m telling you.


That was the thing about numbers. They weren’t like people, who could say one thing and do another. They weren’t like riddles of social mannerisms or conversations.
Numbers never lied.

Chokshi has my everlasting adoration for such beautiful, accurate representation of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) next to her evident and attentive Jew addition.

Zofia’s heartwrenching grappling with communication and connection, her need for order and obsession with calculation, her anxiety, fears, and craving of bravery in face of the pain and the unknown much akin to a drowning man’s grasping for dry land, all respectfully and considerately portrayed this struggle. Not only is her personality and character fleshed out outside of her ASD with her quiet and cutting determination, her dreams and passions bringing her to life, we also see her attempt to make sense of the puzzle that are her friends, comprehend and imitate their jokes, their patterns of flirtation, and it shreds my soul to see her pull away, pull back behind her walls. She is my little ice queen who has me swooning with her perfect, exceptional compliments:

“I am personally undecided, but if we’re assessing based on objectivity, then according to the principles of the golden ratio, also known as phi, which is approximately 1.618, your facial beauty is mathematically pleasing.”


Meet the Baby of the Family who unknowingly has them all around his quietly artistic, fearlessly creative little finger through his innocent, shy, broken, abused, pain-filled, loving, fearful mind. And as Laila coddled, Enrique teased, Zofia instructed, and Séverin protected, I wanted to do all four.


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.”

Oh my baby bi boy (see what I did there :P). Falling in love with Enrique and his permanent half smile, historian mind, and dilemmas of being a European-educated Filipino shunned by his own people because of the colour of his skin, “feeling like his own skin betrayed him, that his own dreams didn’t match his face and would therefore never come to pass,” was too easy and I do not regret it one bit. I will forever be grateful to his second-oldest brother, bound for priesthood, who told him that God made no mistakes in crafting their hearts.


“You care for me. We’re all friends. We’re friends going to save another friend! This is…this is amazing.”
“I never said that,” said Séverin, alarmed.
“Actions have a better voice than words.”
actions speak louder than words.”
“Whatever. I like my version better.”

One word: awwwwwwwwwwww. How can a swaggering, brash, ruthless politician be so damningly precious? Hypnos, who can annoy you with his perception, who says all he thinks without filter and half of which you should not take seriously, who desperately reaches and searches for friends, seeks to be understood and accepted, who has strived to live in two worlds all his life, one of the descendant of Haitian slaves and one of the son of a French aristocrat, and failed, Hypnos with his unabashed words and overexcited gaze...shamelessly stole my heart.

The Seine: Gang & Dynamics

“‘Pretty’ is a stretch. Let’s call you ‘striking.’ Or ‘impossible to look away from.’”
“Oooh. Like the sun?”
“I was thinking more along the lines of a train wreck.”

I expected that, with such a huge immediate cast, establishing relationships would take a while. Surprisingly, that was opposite of what happened: their dynamics came to life in a flash! Out of all the banter and beautiful bonds, four stood out to me:

Credit: Sally

Romance: Laila & Séverin ➾ If you had a sword hanging over your head, would you stay for love or would you run? If your path was one of vengeance, would you walk away for love or would you stay? That is the question that trapped my soul and, what’s more, encountering a reference to Layla & Majnun (a classic Middle Eastern love story) in an English book had me soaring.

Romance: Enrique & Hypnos/Zofia ➾ My heart has been ripped in two and one half is desperate for more of Enrique and Zofia’s ridiculously endearing rivalry and slowly growing sense of mutual rhythm, while the other half begs for more of the playful, gay, and deep understanding of Enrique and Hypnos’s relationship. At this point, I just need a polyamory in YA—and it’s perfectly possible based on Hypnos and Zofia’s unassuming bond.

Friendship: Laila & Zofia ➾ Probably the most wholesome, stunning thing I’ve read, to see a friend who understands my autistic cinnamon roll and patiently reaches out to her, communicating in the silent ways of Zofia. I demand more appreciation!

Brotherhood: Tristan & Séverin ➾ I cried. That is all.

Louvre Museum: France & Themes

The dark and the fair, the ones whose languages sounded spiced. The ones kept in makeshift villages, commanded to entertain. The ones who watched and jeered or tamped down their horror. The ones who reached for hands they could never hold openly in the street. All of them. Stitches in a tapestry that had no horizon.

From 1871 to 1914 France dwelled in La Belle Époque or The Beautiful Era—a period known for peace, prosperity, and innovation; for glittering parties swimming in champagne and cultured courtesans; for the artistic climate bearing masterpieces of literature, music, and art.

Yet with that beautiful name came a hideous stain. With the colonial expansion of France and its increased influence in worldwide politics, came cultural appropriation and erasure, came the greatest thieves of all, they who stole histories and smuggled evidence of illustrious antiquity into foreign, indifferent lands. With the Beautiful Era came human zoos.

It was facing this jarring truth that spurred Chokshi on her own adventure through history and the eventual publishing of The Gilded Wolves, in which said themes take centre stage. From Nautch dancers to corrupt Houses, Chokshi tackles Europe’s “civilizing mission,” and writes:

When we revise the horror and sanitize the grotesque, we risk erasing the paths that led us here.
History is a myth shaped by the tongues of conquerors. What appears good may eventually sour and curdle in our collective minds. What appears bad may later bloom and brighten. I wanted to write this trilogy not to instruct or to condemn, but to question...
Question what is gold and what glitters.

Honestly, this was incredible. Let’s just assume we read different books and I’ll be here, minding my own business, gluing my pieces back together.

CW ➾ racism, autism, child abandonment, neglect, and abuse, bullying, cultural appropriation and erasure, self harm


Book series playlist: Spotify URL

Books in series:
⤳ The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1) ★★★★✯
The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2) ★★★★☆
The Bronzed Beasts (The Gilded Wolves, #3) ☆☆☆☆☆
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,440 reviews78.1k followers
October 5, 2022
"If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell."-Virgil

Hello friends, and let me welcome you to my review of my favorite fantasy novel of the year.... err of 2019? Whichever way you look at it, The Gilded Wolves is the type of read where after turning the final page your jaw hits the floor, and then days later, when you've semi-recovered, it's all you want to talk about with anyone you come in contact with. My husband is sick and tired of me bringing it up over and over, constantly trying to work through what I think will happen in the sequel and why Roshani thought she could earn my trust, make me fall in love with this gang of cool kids, and then rip my heart out like it was nothing.

"His father had not allowed him to call her mother, and in public she referred to him as "Monsieur Severin." But at night... when she snuck into his room to sing his lullabies, she always whispered one thing before she left: I am your Ummi. And I love you."

The amount of research that went into making this book feel believable, coupled with own voices storytelling, made this one of my favorite fantasy novels of the year... even though this one doesn’t come out until next month! I loved it so much that I’ve pre-ordered the hardcover for my personal collection, and I don't do that frequently. Many people have been comparing this to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and I can see why considering this is another teenage fantasy heist novel and there is a bunch of kids who have been through some tragic stuff brought together, but in my opinion the similarities end there. This is a story that stands on its own two legs, with its own magic system, atmosphere, and unique qualities that make it compulsively readable.

"I don't want to be their equals. I don't want them to look us in the eye. I want them to look away, to blink harshly, like they've stared at the sun itself. I don't want them standing across from us. I want them kneeling."

The plot here is so complex; it begins with a bit of world building that segues nicely into some of the characters' history without giving away too much. Each of the characters have suffered some sort of ill fated prejudice, some of which are discriminations that are felt in the real world, and some which are "made up" but can also be attributed to real issues in a metaphorical sense. I won't go into detail due to spoilers, but one particular character's back story was both heart-wrenching and disturbing; it was a grotesquely beautiful and unique combination of emotions that invoke a wide array of feels. The author touches on some difficult, yet timely issues, and manages to portray them in a historical fantasy setting while keeping a very believable beat to the well paced plot.

"Lust is safer than love, but both can ruin you."

One of my favorite aspects of The Gilded Wolves was the fact that the romance was subtle, but deep. Sometimes I need a good lusty YA novel, but this was so much more. The portrayal here is sensual, poetic, and luxurious, and by the end I wanted to slap someone and was left with a deep craving to find out what would happen next. After having the pleasure of meeting Roshani at the Goodreads Power User Summit last year, I knew I wanted to pick up one of her books, and I'm so privileged to have led off with this one. If you enjoy YA fantasy that is rich in culture and well-researched history/mythology, you don't want to miss out on The Gilded Wolves.

"I think the greatest power is belief, for what is a god without it?"

*I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,662 reviews5,144 followers
October 26, 2021
The setting is Paris, 1889, and the world is a strange and industrious place, run by Forgers and curators of fantastical items. Séverin is a treasure-hunter with a crew, and he’s looking to find the item he needs to be reinstated in his rightful place, to receive the inheritance taken unfairly from him—but the item will come at a cost, and he and his team will need to overcome many obstacles to retrieve it.

I’d been meaning to read Roshani Chokshi’s work for quite some time, and when I heard about The Gilded Wolves, I immediately knew I wanted it to be my introduction to her stories. I’m a big fan of historical fantasy, especially stories set in real places but crafted very differently from what those places actually were in that setting, and I’m a sucker for a good heist story with lovable characters, both of which were facets Gilded promised to deliver.

→ L I K E S :

“I don’t want to be their equals. I don’t want them to look us in the eye. I want them to look away, to blink harshly, like they’ve stared at the sun itself. I don’t want them standing across from us. I want them kneeling.”

Luckily, Roshani is just as delightful of a storyteller as I anticipated she would be, because I was captivated from the beginning and found myself head-over-heels in love with this series by the end. The writing is so much fun, full of hilarious, laugh-out-loud banter and sweet, tender moments (I swear I highlighted half the book), and the heists and puzzles craft an air of endless suspense and intrigue.

They might owe him their service. But he was the one bound to them. He was the one who would always be left behind.

Even better, the characters in this story are some of the best I’ve ever met. They are all incredibly complex and real, and you’d be hard pressed to dislike any of them because they all have such lovable quirks and bits of their personalities. I never get tired of a good “squad” and this little gang of misfits has to be one of my new favorites! Oh, and there is a romance in this book that has some of the best romantic/sexual tension I have EVER read in YA (without ever being even remotely explicit).

And though they were not all his tales, he saw himself in them: pushed to the corners of the dark. He was just like them. As solid as smoke and just as powerless.

In fact, can we just stop right here and talk about these characters? Because, honestly, I tried writing this review without taking some time to gush over each of them individually, and I just couldn’t do it.

Séverin 💀 half-Algerian, clever, criminal mastermind, total grump-butt in the best way
Laila 🍰 Indian, #squadmom, baker extraordinaire, sweetest and most loving little ball of sunshine ever, has a beautiful story arc regarding the importance of dance in her culture/homeland
Zofia 🔬 Jewish, Polish, autistic (and so well-done, written with such obvious care and research), scientist/genius, wickedly funny, probably my actual favorite??
Enrique 📜 Filipino/Spanish, queer, adorable, pouty, historian, has endless internal monologues about feeling erased, suffering racism/microaggressions, etc., made me cry a million times
Tristan 🕸 precious soft little bean, has a pet tarantula he never shuts up about, needs to be protected and cared for at all costs
Hypnos 💎 black, queer, doesn’t always have the best motives but is generally the actual softest, killer taste in fashion

→ D I S L I K E S :
He whispered the words Pride spoke every time he went to repossess an object: “I’ve come to collect my dues.”

I have only one complaint about this book, and honestly, I loved the story overall so much that it pains me to even include this: I struggled with the world-building for quite a while. You’re kind of dropped right into the action from the get-go, and you’re forced to catch up on the run, which I normally love, but this world is just so intricate and has such a large-feeling magic system that I feel I would’ve benefited a bit from being given more of a primer before launching into the main plot.

“When you are who they expect you to be, they never look too closely. If you’re furious, let it be fuel.”

I actually have heard a few friends say it feels like this book needs a prequel novella in order for the world-building to fully function, and while I don’t agree that it’s entirely necessary , I do think it would be an AMAZING addition if Roshani ever chose to follow that route later on.


Minor complaints aside, though, The Gilded Wolves still feels like an easy 5-star read for me because I adored the characters so much and had such a tremendous amount of fun with the adventure and obstacles that really come into play in the second half. I cherish these characters so much, and in the two weeks it’s now been since I finished reading, this story has only grown more and more dear in my heart. I am beyond excited for the sequel and can’t wait to see what Roshani will do to indubitably wreck my life as the saga continues.


Ultimately, I’d recommend this to any fans of historical fantasy, “squad” groups, and lovable, diverse characters, as well as readers who don’t require a tremendous amount of back-story or a slow pacing in fantasy. I also wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who enjoys fun, flirty or otherwise humorous banter in their books.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!


Buddy read with Kaleena & Scrill! ♥
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,012 reviews1,332 followers
January 15, 2019
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“Half of winning, my dear wallet, is simply looking victorious.”

🌟 This was one of my most anticipated books for the year and given how much I love Six of Crows, I thought I would love this one! My problem is that I wanted something as awesome as SoC and not another milder copy of that book.

🌟 I have been searching and asking and reading reviews since I started this and it looks readers are divided into two groups; one group can not notice the similarity and one group can not Un-notice the similarity to SoC!! I belong to the second group.

🌟I think the book itself is good but even if we put comparisons aside, it still has some problems that I am explaining next.

🌟 The world building was good which is why I am starting with it and I know there will be many improvements and revelations in the next book.

🌟 The plot was different from SoC which was good. I haven’t read many heist books but I guess they will always have some common things in between and the author added her touch to this kind of stories!

🌟 Now the problematic part which was the writing style and characters. While Roshani has a good style and it could be captivating, it was confusing at many points and I found that I was not the only one confused by this as many of the reviews I found mentioned this!

🌟 The characters were not bad, but I felt that Séverin was like Kaz and Laila was like Inej. But they were not as well written. I have a friend who keeps telling me that Kaz is one son of a Gun but Séverin and the rest of the crew here were not as cool and relatable as the crew in SoC! I wish I liked them more because I would have enjoyed the book heaps more.

🌟 Summary: I didn’t want to compare this book to SoC but unfortunately I was doing that while reading the whole 464 pages and found many similarities. To be honest though, maybe because it is a heist story and there must be some common themes. I enjoyed some parts and I may do a re-read later before going into book 2. I was just waiting for that moment where everything clicks in but the book ended and I didn’t get it! I am sure the book will have many fans and 5 stars ratings though!

🌟 ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Charmel.
179 reviews407 followers
July 7, 2022
The Gilded Wolves was so enthralling. It has; heists, found-family, freaking awesome lovable characters, genius plot, unique world-building, and an ending that will leave you staring into the void.

Okay, so first of all let me gush about Enrique. Who doesn't love his sarcasm, right? and he's half-Filipino and half-Spanish and I'm Filipino and asdfghjksks. Excuse muah as I fangirl and obsess over him because clearly, he's now on top of my book-boyfriends list.

“If you’re furious, let it be fuel.”

1889, Paris. Severin is the rightful heir to the House Vanth but his Patriarch status was denied. Now, a perfect chance comes to reclaim his inheritance. With the help of his band of unlikely experts, these six main characters plot a heist, a scheme, a risk, and an exploration to get back what's theirs.

The plot was so engrossing that I wouldn't want to stop reading. This book reminded me so much of Six of Crows. They both have similarities and I can't stop comparing them in a good way. And I love both of them, do you really want me to choose between these two?!

The world-building, setting, and magic system were all unique and beautiful. Set around the 1880s where magic exists in the fantastical form of forging. I like the writing style as well, the flashbacks from the different perspectives of the characters were smooth.

There were a lot of times I was confused like when weird stuff started happening ha ha. Though, thank the gods of confusion, my puzzled mind wasn't a hindrance to me enjoying this book.

Now, *drum rolls* the NUMBER ONE thing I really loved here was the diverse representations of these worth-to-fall-in-love-for characters!

Enrique. A sarcastic, sassy, witty, history nerd, smart, bi half-Filipino and half-Spanish that I dearly love! I always looked forward to reading his chapters. Also, some of the references mentioned like Jose Rizal, La Solidaridad, etc. were known to me, seems like I actually learned some things from my history lessons after all.😏 There's so much more to love about him honestly.

Zofia, a Polish and Jewish, socially awkward, smart, badass mathematician. Aaaah I love her too and her chapters were also the ones I highly looked forward to!

Hypnos, the beautiful heir of House Nyx, and an extremely fun character of color (I'm very thankful for his last chapter). I thought he would betray the gang but omg when he didn't, it just made me like him much more.

Ok. Ok. It was so difficult to choose. b u t. I ship Zorique. Just imagine, they have chemistry and would be so adorable together, these two geniuses, talking about nerdy stuff and teaming up together on solving puzzles and riddles (istg if they aren't endgame). I like Enrique and Hypnos too (when they both [], I was squealing!) and also Laila and Severin, but my favorite ship is absolutely Zorique. my mind doesn't need changing.

Hypnos, Enrique, and Zofia (credits)

Severin, the intelligent leader of the group who loves to chew on cloves. He gave me deep Kaz vibes, ngl. He also has rendered an equal oath to all of his friends whom he treats like family.

Laila, a caring, loving, hot friend with talents to read objects, dance gracefully, bake cookies, and make severin gapes, she also has secrets.

Tristan, nature friendly boy who cares for his tarantula, plants and friends. He's the youngest of the group and I admire how he cares for his tarantula, Goliath. I wish there was his own chapter aaaaahh😭

Séverin, Laila, and Tristan

Overall, 4.75 stars. I think it lacks something but i couldn't make it out (okay i know, im so sorry my mind is tired, i dont wanna force it). This book also gave me major SOC vibes and yes, i lovee it.
I enjoyed this a lot! I love the characters, the plot, including the confusing moments i had with this book. & the ending NEARLY killed me but that was WOW!

~Buddy read/Twin read with Aria!! <3

“Wolves were everywhere. In politics, on thrones, in beds. They cut their teeth on history and grew fat on war.”



i forgot to mark this as finished and rate it lmao.
but wait - omg. that was the ending? bruuuhh🤯😯

4.75 ✨
Review to come



I am a sucker for found-families. I am into heists. Enrique is a Spanish-Filipino who i am already crushing. Plus, my friends enjoyed this book a lot..

Profile Image for Amy.
285 reviews178 followers
January 3, 2021
Hello! 2021 Amy here to just update this review, as its still getting likes 2 years later!

I haven’t reread this book or anything, and I still don’t really like it. BUT since writing this review there has been plenty of nuanced discussions about comparing books written by POC to books written by white authors with similar plot lines. I surely do that in this review.

I think the comparison is still warranted, not because of the heist plot line—as Leigh Bardugo obviously does not own nor did she invent that—but I still find the similarities between some of the characters in this book & some of the characters in Six of Crows to be uncanny. The heist plot only adds to me being reminded of that.

However, I shouldn’t have necessarily made that a major critique. Again, Leigh Bardugo does not own heist plots, nor does she own certain character tropes & relationships. Just because it stuck out to me and hindered my reading experience doesn’t mean that was Roshani Chokshi’s intent, and I think it was pretty lame of me to compare the blood, sweat, and tears that she put into The Gilded Wolves to a popular piece of work by a white woman. As a white woman myself, I need to stop comparing POC works to white works. It’s not helpful critique and I’m sorry that my previous review is like that.

I’m keeping my previous review up because I still stand by pretty much everything I said, but I wanted to clear up that specific critique. I’m going to be more mindful of this in the future. Thanks y’all!


Original review 1/20/19:

"Half of winning is simply looking victorious."

Never before have I wanted to DNF a book with less than 50 pages left, but there's a first time for everything.

The Gilded Wolves was by far one of my most anticipated new releases of the year. I mean, a heist book with magic, set in 19th century Paris? It sounded like my entire aesthetic rolled into one. But, unfortunately, this book had a lot of aspects that just did not click with me.

Before I get into what I disliked, let me talk about the things I did like!

First off, I appreciated the diversity in this book, and the incredible way that Chokshi discussed different prejudices and how characters had to deal with them during the time period. We had a Jewish character, biracial characters, bisexual characters, etc. I thought they were all represented beautifully and I loved getting to read from those points of views. I really enjoyed that and thought that the diversity was incorporated in a beautifully organic way, and not like the author was trying to check off boxes. I also liked the characters, though I'm going to talk about my issues with them in a second. Despite my to-be-discussed gripes, I thought they had good dynamics between each other which made for some good banter and heartwarming moments.

Another good aspect of this book was the romance(s). I love me some angst and I thought it was done well here. The promises made between the two main love interests at the end for the sequel definitely do intrigue me. There's also a potential M/M/F love triangle, and though I feel zero chemistry between the main point of the love triangle and the girl, I definitely ship the two boys together. So that's something I enjoyed and look forward to exploring more if I decide to read the sequel.

But besides those things... I really did not like the book. Let's talk about why!

Firstly, the plot and world-building were a mess for me. I could barely follow what was happening, and I feel like Chokshi just did not explain things well at all. It was very info-dumpy and I felt like a lot of things were left vague or just explained in a way that went over my head. I had a hard time understanding and visualizing the magic system, and I found myself totally lost with the plot. The pacing was also weird and the Big Moment was so ridiculously anti-climactic that I just felt like it had been a waste of time. Also, the villain(s) were so random, uninteresting, and under-developed. A HUGE pet peeve for me. Basically, I spent this whole book just barely following everything that was going on, and it felt like a chore. By the end, I found myself skimming or not paying attention to what I was reading because I felt frustrated and had begun to lose interest about halfway through. Like I said, I nearly DNF-ed this book despite having only 50ish pages left! Skimming and DNF-ing so far into a book is unheard of for me, so I was definitely disappointed.

The other major issue I had with the book was with the characters. Yes, I said I liked them. But you know why? Because almost all of them are exactly like the dregs from Six of Crows. Severin is Kaz, Laila is Inej with sprinkles of Nina, Enrique/Hypnos are Jesper, and Tristan is so obviously Wylan. The only character who seemed to be a little bit unique was Zofia, but I could draw parallels from SoC characters to her as well, she's just not a blatant copy like the others are. Even the character development, where we would get flashbacks or several pages of backstory, was exactly like what Bardugo did in Six of Crows for character development. Once I made the connection, my enjoyment of the story took a sharp decline, and I couldn't make any sort of connection or attachment to the characters because of it. Once I lose interest in characters (because I prefer good characters over a good plot), the whole story is lost for me. It's unfortunate, but it's how I feel.

Overall, I just didn't like this book at all. I spent nearly the entirety of the book confused and annoyed, so I didn't actually get to enjoy the story. I also thought there was a total missed opportunity with the setting being in Paris. Yes, we did visit some major landmarks in the city, but I never once felt the magic that encompasses being in Paris. There was a real opportunity for whimsy there and it was just... totally missed. This whole book was a missed opportunity, to be totally honest! It just felt like Chokshi wanted to recreate Six of Crows with minor changes and hope the same audience that felt enraptured by SoC would find the same feeling again here. But for me, it just really doesn't work.

If you loved this book, then I'm super happy for you. I wanted to love this book so much but it just didn't work out. If you disagree with me, that's totally fine! I may pick up the sequel because it's going to be set in Russia (and I just love Russia a whole lot), but I'm not sure. Hopefully the story goes in a new direction and Chokshi improves her story-telling in the sequel, because this world and these characters definitely have potential! But sadly, The Gilded Wolves was just not for me. Sigh.
Profile Image for Robin.
310 reviews1,455 followers
September 29, 2021
↠ 4.5 stars

There are absolutely no words I can find that broadly encompass how I feel about this book. A part of it has staked out a place within my heart to claim forever as its own. Roshani Chokshi is masterful, crafting a story so lyrical and full of power, it grabs a hold of something deep inside us all. A search for knowledge that will never quite be sated, or perhaps how the nature of secrets is for them to be unearthed.

The world within The Gilded Wolves is one that is rich in history. Set amid Paris during the 1880's, the book offers an intricate look into the time period and a world not too far removed from our own. In it, power is derived from great artifacts of the past, in the form of a magic system known as forging. As always in the presence of a great power, comes the possibility of twisting it towards one's own personal gain. Chokshi explores this in relation to the controlling houses and a group of outcasts searching for power of their own. The best part of this story, not only lies in the subtext and social commentary but this ensemble of characters. All six have such diverse and unique backgrounds that felt well thought out and connected to the development of the narrative. The author really drew upon their individual strengths in crafting the story and how it advanced. This specifically worked with the heist and the revelations leading up to the end of the book. As for the romance, it felt relevant to the characters while not overpowering any of the other elements present in the story. I'm really in awe of every part of this and am pretty sure I have been changed in some way upon reading it. I doubt I'll be forgetting The Gilded Wolves anytime soon.

Trigger warnings: ableism, antisemitism (violent, mentioned), anxiety, bullying, character death, child abuse, homophobia, loss of a loved one, physical abuse, racism, spiders, torture, violence
Profile Image for Zainab.
381 reviews501 followers
February 21, 2023
So good. So precious. So beautiful.


If you are wondering, yes, it is like Six of Crows with The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure sprinkled on top ( I bet you were wondering exactly that)

I loved this. A lot.

Here is a brief description of the characters:

Severin: The only similarity between him and Kaz is that they're both thieves and well the "leader" of the group. Severin is very VERY caring and he also laughs a lot(?) but he isn't as smart as Kaz. I still love him though.

Laila She dances a lot.

Tristan Oh do not get me started on this gem. He is the youngest and most precious of all the people and I just adore him so friking much!

Zofia I don't know what she does exacty but she's always in a laboratory. She doesn't talk much but when she does, it's just long intellectual sentences so kind of like Ferb from Phineas and Ferb ( I know, awful comparison. Forgive me)

Enrique Witty and charming. Good guy.

Hypnos Just a guy in desperate need of friends.

This book is just brilliant. If you haven't read it already, you are missing out big time.

Profile Image for Renée Ahdieh.
Author 28 books17.4k followers
January 2, 2019

it's rare for me to find a book whose world i wish to inhabit. THE GILDED WOLVES is just that kind of novel. everything about it leaps off the page, from the carefully constructed narrative to the wonderful cast of characters, spanning across the globe, from all walks of life. truly this is one of the most richly diverse books i've ever read.

roshani has written one of my favorite YAs of 2019. it's a delight for all the senses.
Profile Image for Tara ☽.
304 reviews251 followers
February 7, 2019
Have you ever gone into a book fully expecting it to be a new favourite, but slowly, as you're actually reading it, a slow sense of terrible dread begins to creep over you as you start to realise that...you're not actually enjoying it?

It's like if you were arranging to meet up with somebody that you thought was a beloved old friend, and you have this lightness in your heart at the exciting thought of seeing them. But then, as you're approaching the meeting place, the figure waiting for you looks too tall to be your friend. They have the wrong dimensions. You inch a little closer and you realise you don't recognise that face. Then it's too late for you as you realise that the person you arranged you meet up with is not your friend at all but is a deranged murderer plotting to kill you, and they've got their knife out.

Okay… Maybe I went a little too overboard with that analogy. But that was how betrayed I felt by this book. Every time I saw it on my tbr, I could practically hear it whispering to me, "go on, buy me, you'll fall in love with me.” It lied to me. Or maybe I just lied to myself.

I hate giving books negative reviews. I hate it because far more often than not, the author put months, often even years, of work into their novel. They poured pieces of themself into it; pieces of their heart and soul and life and mind. Meanwhile, I put a couple hours worth of passive reading in, and I have the audacity to sit back and say it's bad? To say it's not worth the countless hours and tears and love the author dedicated to it? Who am I, to judge what's worth 1 star and what's worth 5?

I follow Roshani Chokshi on social media, and I've watched her journey with this book. I've seen firsthand how much she loves it and how much she loves her characters, and I am in no way trying to discredit that love. One day I hope to love something I've written as much as she loves this book.

But I still didn't like it.

Why didn't I?

Well, let's get into it.

*The Characters*

The thing is, on the surface level, these characters are great. It's an incredibly diverse cast: we've got a half-French half-Algerian character, an Indian character, a Polish Jewish neurodivergent character, a half-Spanish half-Filipino character and a black half-Haitian character. I'm so happy the characters are so diverse - we need more YA books with this kind of representation. Unfortunately, their diversity may just be the only good thing going for them.

These characters wear pretty dresses and expensive suits. They drink champagne and talk about history and mathematics and plan elaborate heists under the noses of people much older and wealthier than they are. They've got personal vendettas and tragic pasts and engage in witty banter. Doesn't it seem like these are the exact ingredients for a character-recipe of epic, wondrous proportions? Shouldn't this be a cast of characters I fall immediately and intimately in love with?

Unfortunately, it's all just gilded dressing. These characters fool you into thinking they're interesting. When you really get down into it, into the hearts of these characters, they reveal themselves to be unfinished and underdeveloped and their relationships (especially the romantic ones) come off incredibly incomplete and immature.

For example, why on earth did Séverin and Laila like each other? What was this 'pull towards each other' the both of them felt every single fucking time they breathed the same air as one other? These two characters supposedly have a pre-existing history, in which they spent a night together (which is so vaguely hinted about that it could have been anything from a light makeout session to wild night-long rabbit sex) but decided afterwards that they couldn't be together and shouldn't do it again because... Reasons. What are these reasons? Why on earth are they denying themselves something they both so clearly desperately want? It's something vague about 'wanting to focus on their goals and not be distracted’ but I smell bullshit. It all feels very contrived and very much a case of angst for the sake of angst.

And unfortunately, because they already have a pre-existing history, we're never treated to the story of how they started to like each other in the first place. I'm supposed to accept that these two characters are in love with each other - I'm consistently told this from the first page until the very last. But that's the key thing - I am told, when I want to be shown. I want to see what they like about each other, and I want to witness what drew them together in the first place. Without those key elements, it just feels forced. It’s like going into the cinema only to find that the movie’s already halfway through and you’ve missed the entire first act.

The other characters weren’t a whole lot better. Enrique is the intellectual historian, but every time he was talking about history it literally just felt like a clunky passage copy-pasted from Wikipedia. A similar problem happened with Zofia - when she was explaining something, it read like a jumble of mathematical jargon vomited out of a computer and slathered across the page. And don’t get me started on the hints of romance there - it was completely and utterly unnecessary.

Zofia is Jewish, but I wouldn’t have known that at all if I hadn’t been expressly told she was Jewish. She barely ever mentions her faith, and from what I could tell from the text she doesn’t even practise it. I’m pretty sure the word ‘synagogue’ wasn’t even printed on the page once. I don’t want to cry ‘diversity points’ but...well. Writing a Jewish character means more than just saying they’re Jewish and being done with it. Maybe Chokshi wanted to avoid stereotypes, but your Jewish character going to synagogue isn't a stereotype.

I still don’t really have a feel for who any of these people are. If you asked me what kind of person Laila is, I would have no idea what to tell you. She bakes and dances?? That’s it?? Enrique is a historian - okay but what else? Why is Tristan so childlike? Why does Séverin constantly flip-flop between cold prick and protective nice guy? Who are these people? Why are they even friends?

Hypnos was probably the best character, but there wasn’t enough of him. He’s basically an eccentric rich boy so desperate for friends that he’s willing to blackmail them into working with him - which is something I am incredibly here for. But again, there wasn’t enough of him.

Chokshi gives her characters various quirks and idiosyncrasies - a clove-eating habit, a passion for giant spiders, a baking talent, pyromaniac tendencies - but again, it just felt like pretty decorations on a bland sponge-cake. A quirky habit doesn’t equate to a personality. It’s all very well and good giving a character a pet tarantula, but if you don’t tell me who the character is, what makes them tick and why they act the way that they do, I’m just going to start hating that fucking tarantula and everything it stands for.

I think part of the problem comes from the fact that these characters are already friends by the time of the novel’s outset, but I never got a sense that these are people who have known each other for a long time. We’re treated to very little information about how they became such a close-knit friendship group - yeah, they all work for Séverin, but that doesn’t explain why they are friends. The reason why the ‘previously-established friendship group’ works in books like Six of Crows is because we get a lot of backstory on all the relationships, and the characters are familiar with one another in a way that shows you they have known each other a long time. But in this book, it feels like the characters barely know each other, barely even like each other.

Okay, since I’ve talked way too much about the characters, let’s move on to…

*The Plot*

*Long, beleaguered sigh*

Where do I even get started? I have no idea. If somebody asked me what the plot of this book is, I wouldn't be able to tell them. It’s so convoluted, so half-baked that I was utterly lost for 75% of the time. The writing style has this very odd way of elaborately and beautifully describing all the unnecessary details, while leaving out the actually important ones. There were so many confusing descriptions and misleading elements that I felt like I was being jerked around on the world’s rockiest rollercoaster. And not the good kind of rollercoaster that makes your heart leap. The kind of rollercoaster that makes you vomit in your mouth.

The worldbuilding was incredibly vague. We’ve got this ‘magical’ element, called Forging, but it’s never explained how this process actually works or what it looks like in action. Early on it’s stated that Forging only ecompasses the realm of mind and matter, but then later in the story it’s revealed that someone who Forges can have the ability to literally fucking create life! What are the realms and boundaries of this power? What actually even is it? Who knows!

How do the mnemo bugs work? Because that was like some sci-fi shit. Holograms and recording devices? This is supposed to be 19th Century France!

That was another thing - for a book set in 1889, the characters certainly don’t act like they’re from this period. They speak and act like they’re from the 21st Century. In fact, I kept actually forgetting that this was supposed to be historical fiction.

*Overall Thoughts*

This book was going to be my next favourite. Unfortunately I just grew more and more frustrated the further I ventured into the story. Will I read the next book? It’s not looking likely, but I’m not entirely ruling it out. I just hope the romance is less forced, bland and shoved down my throat, and that the worldbuilding is more cohesively thought through.
Profile Image for Layla.
333 reviews370 followers
August 11, 2021
~ 3.5 stars~

Can't say it necessarily fully lived up to my expectations, but I did have an overall good time.

~ here are the things that stopped me from rating it higher ~

• It took way too long for me to get into it. When I was reading it, I was really interested and immersed, but when I wasn't, I forgot that I even needed to finish it. Kind of a weird phenomenon, that I'm not quite sure of the reason for.

• The entire time I felt a certain confusion especially regarding the world-building, and where the story was going. I felt like this story was trying to be a lot of things at once, and it was just a big jumble. I feel like I'm missing some information. The Order organization logistics was not clear cut. I don't really know the propose it really serves. The plot is just very meh for me. While the premise intrigues me, the way it played out, and in general, it's not very digestible unfortunately and made me feel dumb.

• The villian? Can we even call him that? He was there for such little of time, and felt irrelevant, only adding further complexities. His motives were shallow, and he wasn't developed. Also his name... I think the J and the R should be switched if you ask me, I don't know why I felt the need to point that out, but his name annoyed me. His whole thing felt so...boring.

Perhaps I had too high expectations? As much as I liked it, I expected to LOVE it, not just like it.

~ the things I liked ~

• The setting was really cool. I liked the feel of it and the history. Same with the time period. Not much else to say.

• It was enjoyable. I had fun reading it, for what it's worth despite my confusion.

• The premise of this book. I'm still curious to see where it may go. It sets up well for the next book, that I'm trying my best to resist the urge to start it and just toss my TBR for the remaining of the year out the window.

• The characters: This was the biggest positive, and while I usually don't like books were the plot doesn't work for me, but the characters are so lovable, and vice versa, as I typically like a good balance, this book, if it did one thing right, it was the characters.

I love them all, but I think my favorite was a tie between Enrique and Zofia. But let's not talk about the ending because my heart gets too heavy just thinking about it. Just know that I will be suing for emotional damage. I would, humbly say, that I would die for them all. Yes they are all fictional, but what about it?

It took a while for me to warm up to Hypnos, but his dynamic with the others, and his vibe was hilarious, and I think I could potentially love him too in the next book.

Séverin and Laila, I really like them too, but I wasn't as drawn to them as the three others. Laila much more than Séverin, as I just like with her personality more. But the entire time they were pining after each other, and it was just kind of annoying... sorry?

The characters as a whole, their bonds and relationships with each other, how they have found a family in each other, their dynamic with one another, etc. etc. are phenomenal.

• It had great representation and diversity. It took a moment to address the struggles of each of these characters and their identities. I really appreciate that.

Final Thoughts: To summarize, while I loved certain aspects, there were others that I didn't. This book isn't a favorite, and not quite a 4 star read. But I am looking forward to The Silvered Serpents and I just know, that I'm probably going to like that one even more. There is only one way to go, which is up (at least I desperately hope so) and I am optimistic.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews931 followers
November 11, 2018
I'll preface this review by addressing the giant literary elephant in the room. Yes, the comparisons to A Six of Crows are legitimate and at times startling. However, there is a huge difference between the two books. A Six of Crows is leagues ahead of this book in the enjoyment factor. Now that that's out of the way, I'm going to review this book on it's own merits with no further comparisons to other books.

This story is said to be set in Paris in 1889, however, the world conjured up by the author certainly does not lend to a feeling of times past. Actually, I got futuristic vibes if anything. That critique aside, the scenes as described by the author are vivid and easily summoned up in the imagination of the reader

There are six characters in this story, none of which I found terribly engaging, nor did I feel like I really got a sense of who they were. While told in alternating chapters between these players, I often forgot which POV I was reading because nobody seemed to have their own unique voice.

This story movies fast, too fast in my opinion. The story surrounding this world left me feeling like this was the second book in a series and I never read the first installment.

I found myself confused most of the time. I needed more clarity involving the mythology in this story. I kept having to go back and re-read pages desperately trying to figure out what was what. I finally got to the point where I just didn't care anymore.

The cover is no doubt gorgeous but the title is a mystery to me. There was mention of some characters wearing wolf masks but, unless I missed it, it was never explained why they wore them.

I would classify this book as a fantasy adventure that is surely to appeal to a wide variety of audiences. As for me, not so much.

2 Stars ⭐⭐ for the impressive prose.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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