Roshani Chokshi was an unknown to me up until a year or so ago, and then all it took was reading Star Touched Queen and I was sold. There’s something about the way she describes her worlds that makes it so easy to lose yourself in them, and be completely on board with the character’s path in the story. The Gilded Wolves had been on my list ever since I found out about it last year. It didn’t matter that the subject matter was entirely different than what I had read from her, I knew I needed and wanted it. So, here we are with me having finally finished it, and prepping to pick it apart, or at the very least laying out my praise for it.
So, the overall Rating? 5 out of 5 stars
I can’t tell anymore if I am just being a really bad reviewer to start this year off the way I have, or if I just seem to be sticking to my goal of reading only what I really want to. Either way I’m really happy with how this book turned out, except for the fact that this is part of a series, meaning I have to wait to see how it’ll end. Series, for me are a double edged sword; on one hand I get much more of the store, and on the other, I have to wait to see what happens. I’m not a very patient person when it comes to endings, A Court of Thorns and Roses, probably being the best example with me hardly able to wait a year.
One of the first things I’d like to go into is the world, since like I said before, It is one of Chokshi’s great traits in writing, and probably where this story takes an entirely different turn from her Start Touched Series. Where that story focused on an ancient world, rooted in mythology, this one focuses on a Victorian era France, on the cusp of a World Exhibition (Exposition Universelle 1889). Mix in some magic and alchemy and you have the fantasy/sci-fi twist that her stories traditionally have. When talking of why she chose this location to start her story, Chokshi said that the Exposition housed quite a few things that caught her attention; the inventions, culture, animals, and the colonialism perspective portrayed there. The colonial perspective in particular, though only given a small part in her world building, brought not only the character’s view of the racial divide still present, but did it in a way that didn’t feel like just critiquing a period, but part of the actual characterization.
For me, it was the characters that truly sold me on this book, and apparently series (not sure why I didn’t see that coming, I hardly have stand-alones in my tbr). The cast gives off this Six of Crows vibe, while not being in the realm of gangs, or the underworld. They have some shadier dealings, and steal, but it is with a purpose of righting a wrong, whereas Kaz is fine being the bad guy. Staying on track, Severin is probably the main character of this cast, the focus on his quest with everyone having a part in getting us to the end of it. Each of the characters has their strengths, and weaknesses, but also add this sense of true diversity as well. Severin, to begin with is biracial, which has robbed him of his true inheritance as the heir to not just the vast Vanth fortune, but also it’s magical ring. The fortune he gets, but the ring he was falsely denied of by the other families of the Order of the Babel.
From there, each of the characters are brought in according to what they add to this personal quest of his. The first is Laila, who works at Severin’s hotel as a Dancer part time, and the other times she bakes (for her own enjoyment) and acts as not only an informant/spy, but also as the glue for the group. The second is Enrique, who is their historian, whose lighter skin makes it impossible for the one group he wants to prove himself to to accept him. Then we have Sofia, who I’ve heard a couple of people mention might be on the autistic scale, since not only does she have a hard time communicating with others (she’s logic/math/problem solving minded), but also has a hard time with situations out of her control, or concentrating if there is stress involved ( I honestly love how she interprets some of the other characters who flirt regularly). The last main member of the group is of course, Tristan, Severin’s brother not by blood, but by a deep bond, and perhaps the one voice of reason for him in his vengeance scheme. Tristan is a bio-engineer of sorts if we had to term it in modern, non-fantasy terms, and between his pet tarantula, Goliath (do not sympathize with this pet), and his genuine worry for his brother, is the one character that you want to hug from the very beginning. The last character is Hypnos, who considers himself Severin’s arch nemesis of sorts (not sure if that’s the most accurate, but that’s what I got). This guy has confidence, money, and visually the least amount of cares in the group, which makes him really interesting as the book picks up the plot, and loops him further into the adventures of the group!
All in all, I went into this book a little unsure, but came out really happy, excited, and a little dismayed that I have to wait another year to find out how this quest continues. I’m telling you guys, series are a double edged sword; they keep going, which is great for it to continue forever, and also sad in that they often have devastating cliffhangers that leave you on edge for a whole year. This book was an amazing surprise for the beginning of the year, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to those who liked Six of Crows, fantasy, and puzzles, lots and lots of puzzles; Davinci Code reimagined for YA!
Bonus: Look at this amazing cover!!!!!
Have you guys read this new release yet? What were your thoughts on the characters and world? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and subscribe if you enjoyed this!!