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September 20, 2020

The Gilded Wolves series by Roshani Chokshi ~ a Review

by MK French


Book 2 in Roshani Chokshi's Gilded Wolves series hits shelves on Tuesday. I hadn't read book 1 so I got it from the library before picking up The Silvered Serpents. Now I can't wait for book 3, which is slated to come out in 2021.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves
January 2019; Wednesday Books; 978-1250144546
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); YA fantasy
Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is a treasure hunter in an alternate 1889 Paris, and he's tasked by the Order of Babel to help them with a mission in exchange for his true inheritance. He puts together a team of unlikely people to gain the artifact that the Order wants. It might change the course of history if they manage to stay alive.

Roshani Chokshi has written many award-winning YA and middle-grade novels, and The Gilded Wolves is a historical fantasy heist story full of lush details and witty banter. There's a reason why this book has been so popular, and all of the characters have diverse backgrounds which leads them to be the band of misfits that are drawn together to pull off the job. The story itself opens with a heist, giving us glimpses into the magic that created the artifacts they steal, why he steals, and what talents each team member has.

Zofia is originally from Poland, and is on the autism spectrum, overwhelmed by too much sensory input, rigid about the few social rules she learned and is comfortable with numbers. She's a brilliant inventor of items involving explosives or Forged items; Forgery is the means of imbuing magic into otherwise ordinary items. Enrique doesn't have skill with Forging, but he's a talented historian and archivist. Half Filipino, he's eager to be recognized by countrymen for his knowledge. Laila has her own secrets and affinity for knowing the history of ordinary items that she touches. Tristan has Forging talent as well, with an affinity for plants. He had grown up with Séverin in various foster care homes, so the two consider each other brothers. This is the central team, then Hypnos inserts himself into the dynamic when he insists on having them steal an item from a powerful House in exchange for helping Séverin reclaim his place as head of his House, which he was denied as a child.

This is a fascinating heist story, where the relationship between the characters adds to the tension of the heist itself. The magical tools and clothes give a little more creativity to the job, and we learn more about the characters as well as the world with each chapter. Tension ratchets up with each step, decreasing when a hurdle is cleared, then ratchets up again. Séverin cares about all of his friends, who have become like a family to him. The snippets of his background that we discover as chapter-opening explains a lot about his character, and why he makes the choices that he does. The finale was a shock, with an abrupt loss that undermines all of the successes that they had. As a reader, we also end with an additional shock that Séverin doesn't know about. All of this adds to a tantalizing and multilayered story as delicately put together as one of Séverin's heists and just as thrilling.

Buy The Gilded Wolves at Amazon

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

The Silvered Serpents
September 2020; Wednesday Books; 978-1250144577
audio, ebook, print (416 pages); YA fantasy
Séverin and his team succeeded, but at a terrible price that still haunts them. He wants to make amends, so the plan is for one last job to find an artifact capable of bestowing the powers of god. Leaving Paris for Russia, there are mysterious ice animals, forgotten mansions, lost goddesses and unsolved murders. The crew questions if the ancient myths are actually myths, and their pasts are catching up with them. 

This Russian job is mentioned at the very end of "The Gilded Wolves," along with the haunting loss and secrets that Séverin knows nothing about. While you can read this book without having read the first, it would be a lot more difficult because there isn't as much detail about Forging and the types of Forge magic in this one. We have the new blood forging type, and more ice magic, as the bull of the story takes place in Russia and Siberia. There are more pieces of history sprinkled throughout this heist, upping the ante from the first book; the team is after the Divine Lyrics, a book that would supposedly give the reader the power of God.

Following the first novel, Séverin is a cold shell of his former self and everyone else scattered. The reader knows that he shoulders his guilt by pushing others away, not wanting to rely on them or be relied on. Unfortunately, how he goes about it is painful to read. Everyone else is hiding something as well, from the countdown to Laila's death, one sided infatuation, the need to belong, and the need to appear independent rather than a burden. I wanted to squish them all because of the emotional pain underlying the heists, and the dramatic effects of ice magic and the sacrificed girls that were left behind. The tension kept ratcheting up, and I was in for another shocking conclusion. 

I really hope the next book comes out soon. These people are all so shattered by these events, and the world is at stake. Séverin might have a plan, but we don't know it, and he's lost a lot of trust along the way. 

Buy The Silvered Serpents at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever. 

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