Review of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

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.

So I’m going to get the elephant in the room out of the way first and then it’s done and we can move on. Yes, this book is very similar to Six of Crows. To be honest it was that that kind of drew me to this book in the first place, and whilst there a number of direct comparisons, when I read Six of Crows for the first time all I thought about was Ocean’s 11.  A group of misfits banding together, plotting to steal an item is not a unique concept so please accept that fact and enjoy the book for what it is, you’ll be seriously missing out if not.

The characters are all strong, each with their own skillset and emotional baggage. There is so much potential back story for each of them which would be perfect to explore further in future books in the series, but we’re given just enough about each in this book to keep our interest piqued. Laila is certainly a character I would love to delve further into, especially when we learn her history! Her ability to transform from daytime baker to nightime darling of the burlesque is fabulous.  The enigmatic Severin, denied a birthright, slowly simmers until the perfect opportunity arrives to take back what is his.  He is the architect of the piece, and darkly complex. Zofia is wonderful, and as a sufferer of anxiety myself I totally identified with her and the quirks of her behaviour, her ability to force herself to adapt even when the introvert in her tries to drag her back down. I loved the beauty of the friendship she has with Laila, this story has a number of powerful moments but one that stands out most for me is when Laila set out 3 dresses for Zofia to choose from each with it’s own trait to help her with whatever anxiety she was feeling.  Hypnos provides the much needed comedy relief at times when the story becomes too heavy and he really did remind me a bit of Magnus Bane!

The concept of the power of forging was great and covered pretty much all the bases when it came to the fantastical world and what they were able to achieve. Imaginative devices and wonderful potions and poisons, really gave me a feeling of steampunk. Exciting scrapes and tangles, bringing to mind thoughts of raiders of the lost arc and similar tomb raider style puzzles to be solved. The Gilded Wolves is an amazing race against time, I found myself holding my breath a number of times as each part of the plan (and sometimes the unplanned) unfurled – there is a ton going on and if you get distracted you’ll miss something important, such is the volume of information. This is a story with a pace that rarely lets up and will have you devouring the pages with it’s exciting set pieces. One of my favourite parts of this book is actually the small pockets of flash back where Severin recounts the families he stayed with during his childhood, giving each “father” a corresponding deadly sin – this is a poignant change of pace and also a valuable insight as to how he became shaped to be the man he has become.

There were minor issues with the storyline, minutes after warning Enrique not to taken in by Hypnos’ tricks I found Severin’s blind faith in what he witnessed jarring, I accept that was the pivotal point of moving the story forward but I think it could been captured without such a continuity issue. The beginning chapters really had an infodump feel, I found that I initially struggled to get to grips with The Order, The Houses, Forging and getting to know the characters and setting, the writing does fall into a natural rhythm with it though and it does become quickly familiar. I don’t feel that these points overall impacted my enjoyment of the book in totality though.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Gilded Wolves and despite the small issues I still give this 5 Stars, with thanks to Netgalley for the review copy.

The Gilded Wolves will be available on the 15th January 2019

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