The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
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.
↦ “No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.” ↤
Trigger warnings: racism, sexism, colonial references, anxiety, loss of loved ones, loneliness.
The Gilded Wolves fills your blood with rushing adrenaline and slows down the sand trickling down in an hourglass at the same time. It’s a rhythm set by entities different in existence, identity, and passion, but connected through a commonality of purpose, a desire for respect, and a need to love. A tale so beautifully intriguing that the intertwined zeal to elucidate political power-plays, to unravel secrets, and to fight a systemic past of colonialism and oppression becomes highly addictive.
A story told through a captivating pattern of phrases like hanging swords, banter like a hilarious quip, evocation like a flood of emotions, and dialogues like sweetened flowers growing on a shining star. The intelligence of puzzles created to surprise and the delight of a prose worth savouring, builds a memorable experience of reading this gem.
Painted against a backdrop of the city of light, Paris, during a year when the stunning wonder—Eiffel Tower—was inaugurated, 1889, this historical fantasy dips its toes in a pool of sharks disguised as secret societies and dives into a fascinatingly complex magic system where individual abilities differ, depending on the plausibility of manifesting mind or matter.
Standing tall on a ground of the found family trope, the squad takes the spotlight as single essence and as individual forces of strength: Severin, the French-Algerian boy who is determined to take back his inheritance and is the head of the group at most times; Laila, the Tamil (South-Indian) girl who loves to dance and bake, and carries a past that’s most heart-wrenching; Enrique, Spanish-Filipino and queer, his love for history and puzzles is enticing; Zofia, a Jewish Polish girl who is autistic-coded and excellent at science; Tristain, the foster brother of Severin, whose passion for all things nature is adorable; Hypnos, a Black French aristocrat and fabulous queer who relies on wine like this world on sun.
The Gilded Wolves rise on a city known for its glamour and beauty but equally highlighted for the underlying truth of a place flourishing through the efforts of marginalised people, stolen lands, and looted artefacts. A sublime mix of history, mathematics, arts, science, and culture is inhaled through the encrypted puzzles, tech-meets-magic props used during heists, conversations that subtly point out inappropriate stereotypes, and the idea of a magic system powered and controlled by an Order of Babel through mystical fragments—thereby pronouncing a clear, unfavourable dynamic.
In addition to the major aspects being emotive, the story also influences through underlying themes of racism, sexism, antisemitism, and the underlined trauma of witnessing one’s culture being lost in the name of exotic objects and laughable practices. Like an icing on one of Laila’s delicious cakes, The Gilded Wolves also delivers a romantic alignment that grows from comfortable acquaintances to friends with racing heartbeats to finding solace and love in each other’s arms to not confessing with clarity to more, more, and more—leaving you
not ready for the sequel, The Silvered Serpents.
This post is written to promote this book but only through personal interest as a blogger, by independently reading this book, and everything stated in the post is solely my opinion.
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