Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: Young adult; fantasy
When you are who they expect you to be, they never look too closely.
The Gilded Wolves is a tale of found family and crime set in an alternate Paris during the Belle Epoche. It has drawn (mostly favourable) comparisons to a certain well-known YA heist fantasy which is about to be made into a Netflix series but I think that’s an overly reductive take. The Gilded Wolves stands well on its own. It builds more concretely and more critically on historical fact, creating a world and characters which feel unshakeably real.
World. The world was so richly imagined and beautifully described. It felt real in a way many fantasy worlds fail to because it was informed by historical research and multi-faceted.
Prose. Chokshi has a beautiful, melodic writing style and if, as a writer, I could ever get a quarter of the way to her mastery of imagery, I would be content.
Characters. I loved them all. They are my children now. While not every voice was distinct to me, Chokshi did a wonderful job of showing the reader the core of each of the characters; what makes them tick & why.
Magic system. The foggy, lamp-lit streets of Paris are beautifully drawn but, as happy as I was to just accept the magic, for those more detail orientated, it may not be the book for you. The magic is sparsely explained and very much relies on the reader’s faith for believability—you either buy it or you don’t. As the magic system was explained in Act I, I did have a number of reservations and questions which weren’t really conclusively answered but the characters and the richness of the prose were enough bait to make me accept it and move on.
The Gilded Wolves is a lush, heartbreaking read. Chokshi spins magic with her words and though I kept my expectations low (I hadn’t loved the Star Touched Queen which is the only other of the author’s works I read previously), it soared far, far above them. Often, social media overhypes books and leaves me with regrets and an aftertaste like too-long steeped tea, but not this one.
Should you read it? Yes. Reading this book has made me realise that the found family/heist/budding criminal empire sub genre of fantasy is my Favourite and I’d like one set in literally every period of history in every location in the world, please and thank you.