TITLE: The Gilded Wolves
AUTHOR: Roshani Chokshi
SERIES: The Gilded Wolves, #1
RELEASES: January 15th, 2019; Wednesday Books
AGE RANGE: YA
The setting is Paris, 1889, and the world is a strange and industrious place, run by Forgers and curators of fantastical items. Séverin is a treasure-hunter with a crew, and he’s looking to find the item he needs to be reinstated in his rightful place, to receive the inheritance taken unfairly from him—but the item will come at a cost, and he and his team will need to overcome many obstacles to retrieve it.
I’d been meaning to read Roshani Chokshi’s work for quite some time, and when I heard about The Gilded Wolves, I immediately knew I wanted it to be my introduction to her stories. I’m a big fan of historical fantasy, especially stories set in real places but crafted very differently from what those places actually were in that setting, and I’m a sucker for a good heist story with lovable characters, both of which were facets Gilded promised to deliver.
“I don’t want to be their equals. I don’t want them to look us in the eye. I want them to look away, to blink harshly, like they’ve stared at the sun itself. I don’t want them standing across from us. I want them kneeling.”
Luckily, Roshani is just as delightful of a storyteller as I anticipated she would be, because I was captivated from the beginning and found myself head-over-heels in love with this series by the end. The writing is so much fun, full of hilarious, laugh-out-loud banter and sweet, tender moments (I swear I highlighted half the book), and the heists and puzzles craft an air of endless suspense and intrigue.
They might owe him their service. But he was the one bound to them. He was the one who would always be left behind.
Even better, the characters in this story are some of the best I’ve ever met. They are all incredibly complex and real, and you’d be hard pressed to dislike any of them because they all have such lovable quirks and bits of their personalities. I never get tired of a good “squad” and this little gang of misfits has to be one of my new favorites! Oh, and there is a romance in this book that has some of the best romantic/sexual tension I have EVER read in YA (without ever being even remotely explicit).
And though they were not all his tales, he saw himself in them: pushed to the corners of the dark. He was just like them. As solid as smoke and just as powerless.
In fact, can we just stop right here and talk about these characters? Because, honestly, I tried writing this review without taking some time to gush over each of them individually, and I just couldn’t do it.
→ Séverin 💀 half-Algerian, clever, criminal mastermind, total grump-butt in the best way
→ Laila 🍰 Indian, #squadmom, baker extraordinaire, sweetest and most loving little ball of sunshine ever, has a beautiful story arc regarding the importance of dance in her culture/homeland
→ Zofia 🔬 Jewish, Polish, autistic (and so well-done, written with such obvious care and research), scientist/genius, wickedly funny, probably my actual favorite??
→ Enrique 📜 Filipino/Spanish, queer, adorable, pouty, historian, has endless internal monologues about feeling erased, suffering racism/microaggressions, etc., made me cry a million times
→ Tristan 🕸 precious soft little bean, has a pet tarantula he never shuts up about, needs to be protected and cared for at all costs
→ Hypnos 💎 black, queer, doesn’t always have the best motives but is generally the actual softest, killer taste in fashion
He whispered the words Pride spoke every time he went to repossess an object: “I’ve come to collect my dues.”
I have only one complaint about this book, and honestly, I loved the story overall so much that it pains me to even include this: I struggled with the world-building for quite a while. You’re kind of dropped right into the action from the get-go, and you’re forced to catch up on the run, which I normally love, but this world is just so intricate and has such a large-feeling magic system that I feel I would’ve benefited a bit from being given more of a primer before launching into the main plot.
“When you are who they expect you to be, they never look too closely. If you’re furious, let it be fuel.”
I actually have heard a few friends say it feels like this book needs a prequel novella in order for the world-building to fully function, and while I don’t agree that it’s entirely necessary, I do think it would be an AMAZING addition if Roshani ever chose to follow that route later on.
Minor complaints aside, though, The Gilded Wolves still feels like an easy 5-star read for me because I adored the characters so much and had such a tremendous amount of fun with the adventure and obstacles that really come into play in the second half. I cherish these characters so much, and in the two weeks it’s now been since I finished reading, this story has only grown more and more dear in my heart. I am beyond excited for the sequel and can’t wait to see what Roshani will do to indubitably wreck my life as the saga continues.
Ultimately, I’d recommend this to any fans of historical fantasy, “squad” groups, and lovable, diverse characters, as well as readers who don’t require a tremendous amount of back-story or a slow pacing in fantasy. I also wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who enjoys fun, flirty or otherwise humorous banter in their books.
All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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