The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi was an intriguing and diverse book.
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 in 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.
As an urban fantasy, the story was set in Paris in the late 19th century. The setting was decadent and well-described, but the magic was innovative and unique. The magical abilities occur in all areas of the world and have different terminology, but in Europe it is called Forging.
“There were two kinds of Forging affinities: mind and matter. Someone with a matter affinity could influence one of three material states: liquids, solids, or gasses.”
“All Forging was bound by three conditions: the strength of the artisan’s will, the clarity of the artistic goal, and the boundaries of their chosen mediums’ elemental properties.”
The organization that oversees the houses in Paris is called the Order of Babel, and like many organizations in power, there’s a fine line between acquisition of information and greed.
“He might help Séverin steal, but the greatest thief of all was the Order of Babel, for they stole more than just objects … They stole histories, swallowed cultures whole, smuggled evidence of illustrious antiquity onto large ships and spirited them into indifferent lands.”
I haven’t read many heist novels, but the few I did read involved a slow start. It gives time to get to know the characters and the situation, then become invested in the story. This book is no exception. Once the background info and the characters were presented, the story started moving faster.
There was a diverse cast of characters, and the story touches on themes that persist in today’s society — racism, prejudice, Anti-Semitism, greed, control, and the aftereffects of colonialism.
The magic system was a bit confusing initially, but throughout the story it was explained more clearly. I especially loved that the characters weren’t just racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse, but incorporated diversity in sexuality and neurocognitive abilities. I’ve been making an effort to read more diverse literature, but I don’t commonly come across books with this level of inclusivity that seem as natural as this one did.
I enjoyed the story and the cast of characters. There was plenty of suspense and action, with flashes of humor and hints of romance. While there was definitely some closure, the story did end with a cliffhanger. The second book, The Silvered Serpents is scheduled for release in September.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn't an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 20
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars