Series: The Gilded Wolves #1
Written by: Roshani Chokshi
Published: January 15, 2019 by Wednesday Book (Macmillan)
Synopsis: Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.
Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can't yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.
Together, they'll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.
The Gilded Wolves was one of my most anticipated books of 2019. I mean, come on, it’s a total me book. Not only am I a huge fan of historical mysteries and heist novels, but I have been wanting to read a book about Belle Époque Paris for ages. This book seriously checked all the boxes and it is written by an author I have enjoyed in the past. It was a no brained for me. And while there is a lot to like about this book, it didn’t end up being a book I loved.
One thing I did love however is the setting. Belle Époque Paris was indeed the setting I was dreaming of for a book like this. Roshani did a great job of establishing the historical time and place. Starting of course with the backdrop of the Exposition Universelle and all the majesty and mechanics it brought Paris. This was the year the Eiffel Tower opened and I loved that Roshani showed how many Parisians hated it. But she also didn’t shy away from the more negative aspects of the Exposition and the time period including the “Negro Village” and the mistreatment of minorities and those deemed lesser. It gave the book a lot of depth and accuracy in terms of the period. The contrast wall the more obvious because of Roshani’s writing. She’s always done a great job describing the beauty of a setting and transporting the reader there and this book was no exception.
But the actually setting was only the beginning of the world in this book. There was also a really interesting magical system. The book is an alternative universe and what makes it that way is that this is a world where people have the ability to Forge which allows them to control a substance or a person. It was sort of similar to bending in Avatar: the Last Airbender. I liked the overall concept but it just didn’t feel fully-formed as a magical system. I like my magic to have rules, which this did, but those rules need to be explained. The reader needs to understand how the magic works. They need to see it in action. But I didn’t feel like we were able to see Forging as much as I would have liked. There were a few opportunities where we saw someone mention a Forged object or talking about how they could Forge but I would have liked to see it used in a bigger way. I think this was just a case of the author telling instead of showing when it came to the world-building.
The other thing I liked about this book was the characters. This is a book full of a diverse cast of characters including those of different races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations. Each of the characters had their own backstories and their own way they were trying to prove themselves. It was easy to root for them and want them to succeed so that they could overcome adversity. Although I do think that there was a lot of info-dumping in the beginning when it came to introducing the characters. Most of them had perspectives so it was a bit overwhelming to learn a ton about one and then switch to a different person. But the weird thing is, I don’t think one perspective was more interesting or engaging than the others. I think Laila might of been my favorite because she’s the one I want to know more about but all of them were compelling which is hard to do. That I think is a testament to how likable the characters were.
However, my biggest disappointment with this book was with the plot. I was so pumped to read a heist novel, especially one with a historical spin. And there was definitely a heist aspect to the story, and those were some of the best moments for me. I loved the puzzles and the near disasters that came with trying to steal something. However, it felt a little too easy. They knew every answer almost right away and then they would explain everything in such detail that it would take me out of the story giving the background of things like the Fibonacci sequence and the golden spiral. Heists are hard to do because you really need to have t all planned out walk a fine line between surprising your readers and giving them the knowledge to figure things out. This just didn’t do a great job of walking that line for me. Many of the reveals were not big surprises and I felt like some of them were too easy even for the characters. But I might just be hard to please when it comes to a heist. I tend to be good at solving things so maybe it was just me.
All in all, this was a good read, it just didn’t blow me away. It had an engaging setting and likable characters, I just wanted a little bit more surprises and magic.
I give The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi 8 out of 10 stars
Have you read The Gilded Wolves? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!