Review: The Gilded Wolves - Roshani Chokshi
Genre: Fantasy Published: Wednesday Books, January 2019
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“That’s it, I’m done with YA-fantasy.”
- sentence uttered by me, many times over the last few years.
I just can’t take it anymore. No other genre can hold a candle to the number of disappointments YA has brought me. The awesome premises, bogged down by underdeveloped characters, predictable plots and angsty teenage romance… Why do I even keep trying?!?
Then, every once in a while, one of those rare gems comes around, that restores my faith in the entire genre. Tiny gold nuggets that make sifting thought the mud all worthwhile. I think of Six of Crows or Strange the Dreamer, and can now add one more novel to that list: The Gilded Wolves.
The Gilded Wolves is set against the dazzling background of 19th century Paris and follows, what is essentially a heist of an ancient forged artifact of great significance. A seemingly mismatched group of friends and total strangers, each with their own specialty must learn work together to accomplish this feat.
- Severain, the protective leader of the group and heir to a powerful house of which the forged artifact in question was stolen.
- Laila, the charismatic Indian girl with a troubled past, who has the ability to “read” objects by touch, and tell their history by doing so. Also bakes a mean batch of cookies.
- Tristan, absolute sweetheart botanist who has a gift for plants and nature and is obsessed with his pet-tarantula. (view spoiler).
- Zofia, the engineer, who is probably somewhere on the autism-spectrum, based on her behavior. She loves math, chemistry and has the rare gift of “mind-forging”. She is never “labeled” as autistic in the novel, which I really appreciated: the characters just accept her for who she is, without making a big deal out of it. She is also wickedly funny at times.
- Enrique, the biracial historian with a deep interest for especially the cultural side of his profession. He can be a little shy, and probably has the least distinct personality of the group, but brings a lot of depth to the story in his quietness.
- And Hypnos, heir to an aristocrat, queer and probably the biggest drama-queen in history. Although this is a very “dangerous” character to write (for risk of being “the-token-gay-comical-relief”), Chokshi just managed to pull it off perfectly. Hypnos felt well-developed and genuinely funny, and ended up being one of my favorite characters in the end.
Characters are a very important part of a novel for me, and more often than not the difference between a favorite or an “okay” read. Reading about the cast of The Gilded Wolves felt like traveling with friends to me, a feeling I honestly haven’t had with any YA ever since finishing Six of Crows.
Chokshi is an artist with words, and with her beautiful prose, she brings to life not only the characters, but also the lush world she built. Where Ketterdam was bleak and dark, the world of The Gilded Wolves is vibrant and full of life, and it’s a joy to immerse yourself in it for hours on end. The magic system, based on forging is best left explored for yourself, but suffice to say: color me intrigued. I loved what we learned in this novel and really hope we expand further on it in the next.
In the end, The Gilded Wolves is not a perfect book (because, guess what: I don’t believe those exist), but came damn close to a perfect reading experience for me personally. Highly, highly recommend, not just for fans of YA, but also for those of you who (like me) at times lose faith in the genre: this might just bring it back!
Find this book here on Goodreads.