My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In an alternate 1800s France, six individuals must team up to pull off the heist of a lifetime. The thieves in question are a historian, an engineer, a performer, a gardener, and an old friend, all led by an angsty leader.
The setting is full of magic and wonder. Roshani Chokshi pulls from myths from all around the world to build a rich environment: There are references to the Bible, Greek mythology, Persian stories, and Indian deities. The words themselves are also full of magic: “History is a myth shaped by the tongues of conquerors.” Atmospheric settings and writing are not necessarily for all readers, but the lush story really worked for me.
While the plot did feel convenient at times, the success of the book came not from the events that occurred, but rather from the characters. Six characters is a lot of one book to flesh out, but this one managed to make all of them have compelling stories and character arcs. Severin, the group’s leader, struggles with wanting revenge for a lost inheritance and also wanting to protect the members of his team. Hypnos (the old friend) and Severin both struggle with being mixed-race in a society that sees whiteness as paramount. Enrique (the historian) sees parallels to his Filipino heritage and the Spanish colonization of his people. Zofia (the engineer) learns to understand how emotions work as she feels more at home with chemical reactions than with life forms. Tristan (the gardener) looks up to Severin, but is reluctant to go on any heists. And Laila (the performer), has a secret: She’s not a “normal” girl, and in the next few months, she will die.
This book has been heavily compared to Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, and while the idea of having to steal something is the same, the execution is completely different. Six of Crows relies on a magic system that gives certain people (the grisha) special powers. The Gilded Wolves, however, uses logic and problem solving to complete the heist. What stood out to me is how the historian and the engineer work together to solve the puzzles. In an increasingly STEM vs humanities/social sciences world, having these two rely on each other to solve problems was so refreshing.
And if I haven’t convinced you to read this yet, the sequel The Silvered Serpents came out in late 2020, and the third book The Bronzed Beasts comes out in September 2021! —Review by Anika F. ’21
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