The Gilded Wolves

March 21, 2019 Book Reviews 1 ★★★★½

The Gilded WolvesThe Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1) by Roshani Chokshi
Published by Wednesday Books on January 15, 2019
Pages: 388
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Goodreadsfour-half-stars

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.

Wolves were everywhere. In politics, on thrones, in beds. They cut their teeth on history and grew fat on war.

My heart was both incredibly full and totally shattered when I finished this book. I immediately raced off to see when Book 2 is due out, and *gasp* there’s not even a DATE yet! How shall I survive? *melodramatic scream*

Characters

The Gilded Wolves is the story of friends. The most unlikely group of misfits who, despite their myriad differences, fit together and work together and love each other – even if they won’t come out and say it in so many words. I love this squad so much! Jury is out on whether it will be on par with my current favorite squads (a tie between the Lunar Chronicles gang and the Night Court circle). There is a TON of diversity as far as nationality, color, and sexuality. The diversity actually feels natural, too, not just “thrown in” for good measure the way it does in so many books published recently. I think part of this is because the author herself is of a mixed heritage and it gives her a unique viewpoint from which to write.

“You know how moths look at a fire and think, ‘Oooh! shiny!’ and then die in a burst of flames and regret?”

“Vaguely.”

“Right. Just checking to be sure.”

I loved Severin and Tristan, the brothers-not-really. Loved them so, so much. I really wish a little more of their back story had been explained, because while there are little tiny pieces of Severin’s story told through flashbacks (usually only a couple of paragraphs long), it really just wasn’t enough! Must. Have. More.

He wished he didn’t know what he had lost. Maybe then every day wouldn’t feel like this. As if he had once known how to fly, but the skies had shaken him loose and left him with nothing but the memory of wings.

Severin, the leader of this merry (or not) band, is a complex character. I’m a complete sucker for anti-heroes, so I was predisposed to like him, buuuuut at the end he is super super shitty to Laila. I understand WHY – he’s hurting, and either to keep himself from hurting or as an attempt to ease the pain he lashes out at her. Not to mention freezing everyone else out as well, but especially her. That was…completely uncalled for. Laila, being who she is, sees beyond his heartless words and actions to the pain underneath. Their relationship is far from resolved in this book, but I hope – I really hope – that Laila remains true to herself, regardless of her feelings for Severin. It could turn into a toxic relationship very quickly unless Severin actually allows himself to heal.

Laila, the magnificent baking queen with a mask of glitter and sensuality. She is amazing and so, so strong. Despite being very young she kind of gives off the mama bear vibe and I adored it. Her relationship with Severin is unique in YA in that they actually have history, it’s not insta-love or even lust. As I said above…it’s not resolved, at all, and I’m very interested to see how it goes in the following books.

I feel like this would be Zofia’s face on the regular.

<<<Then we have…my darling Zofia. Who is about the most awkward human being on the face of the planet, and I adore her for it. I feel like maybe she is on the spectrum, due to the way she immerses herself in projects and reacts to people? Also the ways she takes things literally. I love it so much.

“What on EARTH are you doing?”

“I am imitating patterns of flirtation.”

“Wait. You’re flirting. With…ME?”

“Maybe I have the methodology wrong.”

Oh, Zofia. She’s also a math whiz, and counts to keep herself calm. Also Zofia + Enrique would be awesome.

Oh yes, Enrique. I really feel that Enrique didn’t get enough screen time in this story and I’m hopeful that he gets more in the future books. He seems to have so many layers to him, and he just wants everyone to be happy and get along. Oh, and he’s a historian! Mad props.

Tristan, sweet, spider-loving Tristan (yes really). He reminded me of a little brother that everyone wants to protect and love on, which is essentially what he is to this entire group but especially to Severin. I loved his constant experiments and just his general vibe. Now I have to shut up because SPOILERS but dear god my heart!

I cannot WAIT to see what happens to this awesome squad in the next book! Also kind of terrified because like I already said…MY HEART.

Setting/Worldbuilding

Paris is dual-faced in this book – on one side, glittering and sparkly (hello, Laila), and on the other dark, dangerous, and hateful (oh, is that you, Severin?). In the shadowy places in between is everyone just trying to survive and find their place in a world that would cut them down and leave them bleeding on the street. The magic system was, to me, the weakest part of the story. I still don’t quite understand how forging works? Or how the ability is passed on or down or whatever? It was fascinating but I really need it spelled out in more detail.

Plot

“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.”

The heist! I actually usually don’t like books involving heists, they give me a very Oceans 11 vibe and I get so nervous I literally can’t sit still. However, this one had so many puzzles and clues and different places to go I just HAD to keep reading. It was awesome. Even if I still don’t quite understand the magic behind the forged artifacts, it was enough for me that they were THE most valuable and coveted items on the planet and people would kill for them. How the squad got to them and the allies they had to make along the way was just…aaah! I WAS THERE FOR IT.

Overall, 4.5/5 stars. Half a star off for my confusion over the magic system. All the stars for the squad. This is truly a YA book, with young characters who act young (but not too young), and with sex being more innuendo than action. I loved it. Book 2 please hurry!

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four-half-stars

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