Title: Gilded Wolves
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy Fiction
Pages: 388 pages
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.
To be completely honest, I started this book with very high expectations, as it is being compared to Six of Crows. I anticipated riveting heists, enthralling characters with good back stories + personalities, and an adventurous historical plot line. Did the book meet my expectations? Mostly.
Gilded Wolves was a novel that made me feel seen and appreciated. Why, oh why? Because this book is bursting with culture, diversity, heritage, and tradition. Being able to read a Filipino character in a young adult book was a feeling I am not used to and I need more of it! Roshani Chokshi did a great job explaining the Filipino tradition — making reference of Dr. Rizal, writing conversations in Tagalog, and the conventional Filipino habits. As a fellow Filipino, Enrique instantly grabbed my heart allowing me to relate toward his experiences.
“Nothing but a symbol? People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They’re not just lines. They’re histories, cultures, traditions, given shape.”
As I was reading this book, I can’t help but appreciate how elegant and lyrical Roshani Chokshi’s writing style was. She provided exquisite imagery and settings, which I totally fell in love with. If strolling around Paris along with its twinkling lights, aromatic cafes, and luxury hotels is your kind of vibe, I highly recommend this book!
However, the elegant setting of the novel wasn’t the only factor that got me hooked, but the characters as well!
Séverin, the heir of House Vanth seeking and craving for vengeance. His serious and uptight demeanor makes me even more attracted to him. Did I also mention his leadership and intelligence?
Enrique, my boy! A charming Spanish-Filipino historian who’s obsessed with symbols, history, and books. You’ll have no absolute idea if he’s flirting or just being plain mean, extra points for charm! He’s the type of person who will make your ears melt from listening to his stories.
Zofia, a Jewish Polish mathematician, MY FAVORITE CHARACTER IN THE BOOK! She’s such a compelling character because of her vulnerabilities. Throughout the novel, she struggles with her past, insecurities, and fear. She’s also arrested for arson which had repurcussions to her education.
Laila, an epitome of graceful and sophistication. She has an ability to read other people’s background and history in the presence of their possession. She also has a passion for baking and dancing. Also, a literal MOM to the crew!
Tristan, a botanist and a spider aficionado. Also, a very very soft boy!
Hypnos, the intimidating and charming heir a French aristocrat.
The romance was subtle in a way that it was not the focal point of the plot. Although, Laila and Séverin had a romantic backstory which was continuously hinted in the novel. They both shared a romantic night which they vowed to forget! Severin kept denying his feelings since he assumed that it would jeopardize the heist, or worse, the rebirth of House Vanth. Also, Enrique and Zofia’s friendship was absolutely adorable! Enrique’s passion in history and symbols complements Zofia’s love for mathematics and numbers. Zofia has this serious but shy behavior which utterly experiments with Enrique’s sarcastic demeanor. Oh, and don’t forget about Enrique and Hypnos’s kiss towards the end of the novel! Concealed emotions were uncovered and some feelings kept buried!
As much as I admire Roshani Chokshi’s elegant writing, it comes with tangled faults. There were moments in the book wherein I had to read twice or thrice for the sake of understanding the plot. Don’t get me wrong, I love the magic system and all, but I wished there were more explanation into it. Being oblivious of the magic system made me confused!
I also wish that there were more conversations and interactions between the characters because the author seemed a tad bit immersed with the imagery and setting. There were character developments towards the end, but it was a bit underwhelming. Furthermore, the antagonist was dry and uninteresting.