The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi (Review by Trisha I. ’24)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi felt bittersweet from the first page. As the final book of her Gilded Wolves trilogy, I’ve had this book on preorder for nearly half a year and knew that it would provide a realistic conclusion—not satisfying, but rather one just as painful and fulfilling as the twisted character arcs of the first two books set up—to a saga, and six characters, that I’ve been invested in for the better half of three years. And I think Chokshi delivered on the nuanced ending this series deserved, following five characters as they solve Da Vinci Code-esque puzzles in a race to stop evil and gain power beyond belief, the power to make their historical world anew again. She maintained her signature writing style: sensuous, precise, and almost bleeding with description and sensory imagery. She redeemed the characters who were broken—Séverin, mostly, but also Eva, who turned out to be more compassionate than the second book indicated—and gave purpose to the characters—Zofia, Hypnos, and especially my sweet history buff baby Enrique, with whom I connect on a spiritual level—who were downtrodden; and we can’t forget about quasi-Mary Sue Laila, who energizes the plot’s pacing with her literal countdown to her nineteenth birthday (and death)—Laila doesn’t need redemption or purpose, but she does get joy. If I had to nitpick, I’d say that the historical setting of this book didn’t influence this plot as strongly as in the previous two, which were brimming with descriptions of the people and places of Europe in 1890. I also felt that the character development of Hypnos, whose perspective Chokshi didn’t write until the end of book two, felt a tad rushed.
But while Chokshi didn’t tie up all her plot threads neatly or nicely—there is a good dollop of cognitive dissonance and angsty dialogue and all that jazz—I didn’t expect her to. For a series that has challenged the inclusivity and colonialist bias in history right from the author’s note of the first book, it wouldn’t make sense for these characters to end up with perfect endings in a perfect world that runs in a perfectly sensible way. They have to adjust to changes, obstacles, and losses like the rest of us do. They banter too much, but then again, they are teenagers. They get lost but find themselves again, which is all that I as a reader can ask for. I felt the need to slow down and really absorb every rich word of the last chapters, because I was saying goodbye to people I’d grown to love and leaving them in a more hopeful world—a changed world but, as the characters see it, better even if not entirely good. In a way, matching in a way the strong theme of a kind of exchange between losing something dear to gain something equally valuable permeating this series conclusion, leaving its world different from how it started but, as the characters see it, better even if not entirely good. -Review by Trisha I. ’24
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