This might be my first book review of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, but it is the second time I am reading the story. And once again, I find myself absolutely in love with the glamorous, dangerous world that Roshani Chokshi has created.
Set in the 1890’s, during France’s Beautiful Era, The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is a thrilling, fantasy heist story that deeply explores the gruesome exploitation of Western colonization and systematic racism.
~ Synopsis: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi ~
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.
Ratings: 5 out of 5 Trigger Warnings: Death, child abuse, violence and gore, animal cruelty, racism
I’ll start my book review of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi with a mild warning: for any reader who is only starting their journey with the fantasy genre, this story might be a bit daunting. But if you are already familiar with the genre, by all means, dive right in!
There’s a lot of things going on in this book and its universe, which is jarringly similar to our own save for one key difference–in the world of The Gilded Wolves, the human race have the art of Forging, which allows them to manipulate mind and matter. This practice is closely monitored by the Order of Babel, a powerful society who has been systematically “collecting” artifacts from colonized nations in the name of protecting mankind.
With this ambitious setting in place, The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi starts off as a vengeance story with our main character Severin, a young man born into a respected House within the Order of Babel, but was tragically denied his inheritance simply because the Order would not allow biracial men to hold so much power and influence.
To strike back, Severin grows into a successful hotelier and uses his earnings to assemble a team of talented misfits. But then…the plot thickens….
What was supposed to be another “acquisition” (or stealing, if you want to call it what it is) becomes a dangerous mission to find the West’s Babel fragments–pieces of an ancient artifact that can grant you the power of gods.
To put it in a nutshell, The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is a very complicated story that zeroes in on colonialism while setting up a high-stakes heist and dangerous, power-hungry antagonists.
In fact, it is because of how complex the mysteries and puzzles are that I couldn’t put this book down for even a minute. I cannot even begin to imagine the kind of research she had to do to pull off this story–when you think about the scope of this novel, The Gilded Wolves is a challenging feat, and one must indeed be a truly talented writer to be able to pull it off successfully.
Think of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code–that’s the kind of complex mysteries that have been carefully woven into the plot. Now add the fantasy & heist elements from Six Of Crows into it, and you’ll get The Gilded Wolves, a daring, bold, vividly imaginative, adventure heist that takes young adult fantasies to new heights.
The lore behind The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is also incredibly impressive. Roshani Chokshi pulls from many different mythologies from all around the world, and creates complex puzzles that require the understanding of history, mathematics and science.
Needless to say, this entire story is written with such a captivating narration style, that you will be kept on your toes from start to finish.
However, my biggest issue with The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi was that every chapter seemed to end in some sort of cliff-hanger, which made the story seem repetitive and at times rather annoying: one can only hold their breath in anticipatory suspense so many times.
Ultimately, at the end of the day, where the book truly shines is with its characters.
I adored each and every character in The Gilded Wolves, and that is saying something. Perhaps it is because the major characters in this book are effortlessly diverse, and their struggles with both their identities and their aspirations are not only relatable but very realistic and stay true to a lot of people’s experiences.
For example, Severin, the cunning leader of the group is equal parts kind and ruthless: his lust for vengeance, and thirst for a grander life are tempered by his compassion and understanding for his fellow thieves. Add to this his unique experience as a white-passing biracial man, and you have a very complex and intriguing character who has a lot to explore about himself.
There are other biracial (and bisexual) characters who struggle with identity and micro-aggression in this story: Enrique and Hypnos, and I adored them both. Their experiences were unique from that of Severin’s–neither of them belonged among their own people or that of the French people.
I adored Laila and her personal experiences, some of which I could relate to: the reduction and exotifying of her culture at the hands of white people (many of whom, to this day, would rather perpetuate their own interpretation of a colored person’s culture rather than allow him/her to explain it), the stereotyping of her identity as either a maid or an escort (because God forbid brown women to have the audacity to be anything other than that).
I also loved the Jewish and neurodivergent representation through Zofia in this book, and how, not for even a moment, she is ever perceived as “less than” or “other” by her crew. They embrace her wholly for who she is, and they adapt to her behaviors without a second thought out of respect and love.
Most importantly, throughout the book, you’ll find that not once does Zofia see her differences from the others around her as a hindrance. She understands that her way of processing things is clearly different from other people, and not once does she allow those differences to question her self-worth.
The love and respect that all of our main characters have for one another in this novel is what had me turning the pages. If you think about it, all of these characters from The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi are misfits and outcasts in their own ways. And yet, they have found a family with each other. It’s absolutely wholesome and adorable, and hands-down one of the strongest selling points of the novel.
I cannot write enough about the characters without this book review becoming too long, so instead, I’ll write another discussion post about the characters of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. They are brilliant, raw, and real characters, and I cannot wait to read more about their adventures together.
My only issue is that for the events taking place in the book, the characters were much too young. The entire time that I was reading the story, I felt that the characters were around my age–perhaps in their early to mid 20’s.
A wonderfully captivating story featuring a cast of powerful, vibrant characters, The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is a thoughtful exploration of Western colonialism and takes young adult fantasy to new heights.
~ Meet The Author: Roshani Chokshi ~
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 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.
Support The Author: Get The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
If you enjoyed this review and you believe this book is for you, then please consider supporting the author by getting your copy of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi from the links below! <3
If you enjoyed The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, then consider checking out these books:
✨ The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones – an absolutely bewitching tale of a witch on the run, an unwilling muscle for hire who refuses violence, and an adorable corgi, The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones is a fast-paced and enchanting YA fantasy heist story that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.
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