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The Gilded Wolves By Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves is an edge of your seat, nail biting, and breathtaking adventure where we traverse across the treasure map that is this novel, finding the stakes are stacked higher and higher with every turn of the page. 

Cecelia Beckman, Sheaf & Ink

The Story

It’s 1889, La Belle Époque: The Beautiful Era, in Paris, France.

What if you had the power to create?  To manipulate, alter, design, and potentially remake the structures that is our physical world.   Some may call this power magic, or conjuring, or alchemy, but in Roshani Chokshi’s Gilded Wolves, it is a sanctified affinity called Forging. 

“To Forge is not only to enhance a creation, but to reshape it.”  

Roshani Chokshi, The Gilded Wolves

Forging is a gift.  A power, if kept unchecked, could lead to devastations and atrocities that could destroy the world. 

Art by Nicole Deal

Welcome to the Gilded Wolves

Where once there were four Houses of France within the Order of Babel reign.  These Houses, living in opulence and prestige, ruled together over France, keeping the affinities of Forging in check, while protecting the Order of Babel and the Babel Fragments, “the source of all Forging Power.” (Chokshi) 

But like all Houses, they are susceptible to the elements. 

One House had fallen.

And another died with no living heir.

With only two Houses standing, all that’s left between the Order of Babel’s secrets is a treasure hunter and his team of specialists: an engineer, a historian, a dancer, and a brother in all but blood.

My Review: The Gilded Wolves

Along with the ruling Houses, a symbol of wealth and power, Chokshi skillfully illustrates a vivid and vibrant Paris in the 19th century.  The Belle Époque is a place in time that depicts a city that never sleeps where the champagne flows like the river Seine and the glamour and sparkle of a city that is the epicenter of high fashion, art, and literature shines like gold.

Coupled with it being a monumental time in history, where Paris would host the Exposition Universelle, a world fair that took place in France’s capital commemorating the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, and unveil one of France’s most famous monuments, the Eifel tower.  All eyes were on Paris and its many attractions, exhibitions, and inventions. 

Though we may visually think of Paris during the 19th century as Baz Luhrmann’s film, Moulin Rouge, depicting Paris as an uninterrupted glittery party, courtesans dressed to entice and delight, dripping with decadence and endless champagne, there is a darker undertone that could easily be overlooked. 

An Interesting Kernel of History

Notably, in Chokshi’s Author’s Note, she writes that one of the featured exhibits in the Exposition Universelle was La Village Négre, at the time called Negro Village or the “human zoo.”  It was one of the largest exhibits at the fair, where it included over four hundred indigenous peoples (actual real life people) of various French colonies on display.

“I wanted to understand how an era called La Belle Époque, literally The Beautiful Era, could possess that name with that stain.  I wanted to explore beauty and horror through the eyes of the people on the sidelines.” (386)

Roshani Chokshi, The Gilded Wolves
Art by Nicole Deal

A Few More Thoughts

Although Chokshi does not specifically use La Village Négre, one of France’s darker moments in its history, she indirectly includes colonization and its horrifying effects on an indigenous people through dehumanization and culturalization of how two of the main characters are raised.  Séverin Montagnet-Alarie, heir to the House Vanth and Hypnos, heir to the House Nyx.  Both Séverin and Hypnos were illegitimate children by mothers who had darker skin and were slaves to the Patriarchs of Vanth and Nyx.

To emphasize the exploration of the beauty and horrors through the eyes of the people on the sidelines, Chokshi subtly infuses the dark with the seven fathers who help raise the main character, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie.  As the heir to one of the houses, he had seven fathers. 

“An assembly line of foster fathers and guardians, all of whom had made Séverin who he was, for better or worse.”

Roshani Chokshi, The Gilded Wolves

Each father was named after the vices taught in Christianity, the Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth.  For every father taught a lesson in the vice for which he was named. And some of those lessons could be as brutal and never-ending as the excruciating heat of the desert or the depthless thirst of days with nothing more than a prayer and a skiff in the middle of the ocean.  

Art by Nicole Deal

There’s so much to talk about The Gilded Wolves

What is most interesting about these fathers, besides the names Séverin so cleverly entitles them, when he receives his inheritance he uses it to build himself into legend. Thus, creating a façade that embodies the very elements of the city his hotel rests upon: gold, glitter and excess and a reminder of the family that raised hi.. 

It is almost as if he was rebuilding the House that was taken from him. By creating L’Eden, Eden, or Paradise, Séverin was building a beautiful middle-finger to the rest of the Houses, the Seven Fathers, and quite possibly the world.  

Even though the hotelier derives his roots, his upbringing, from the seven vices, in building L’Eden he constructs a haven rather than a hell from which he was raised.  L’Eden’s gardens on the other hand, were fashioned as a reminder of vices of fathers.  The Seven Deadly sins are aesthetically used in the garden setting, creating a stunning yet unsettling labyrinth in comparison to the seven men responsible for who Séverin and Tristan became.

Although Paris sparkles, even in the pre-morning hours, as though the night’s revelries left a trail of gold dust as a reminder of the splendor of the city that never sleeps, it is not the only beauty our eyes devour, we also feast our eyes on the characters Chokshi depicts who are as lovely and dark as the landscape, the city they encompass.

Meet the collection of characters from L’Eden:

Séverin – The Hotelier, Majnun, Madman, Emperor, Heir to the House Vanth.

Laila – The Dancer, Magical, The Performer, Motherly, The Mystery, L’Éngime.

Zofia – The Engineer, Genius, Phoenix, Socially Inept, OCD, Forger.

Tristan The Horticulturist, Fragile, the Artist, Arachnid and Insect Enthusiast, Childish, Forger.

Enrique – The Historian, Handsome, Witty, Dashing, Ostentatious.

Art by Nicole Deal

Chokshi fashions each character with a unique voice and past that is mapped out over the course of the novel, pin-pointing their vulnerabilities, their desires, and how they wish to change their world for the better.   One paragraph in particular that stands out and encompasses both the female character and her surroundings so vividly:

“When she stepped into the kitchen, she felt like a deity surveying the slivers of a universe not yet made.  She breathed easier in the kitchen.  Sugar and flour and salt had no memory.  Here, her touch was just that.  A touch.  A distance closed, an action brought to an end. ”

Roshani Chokshi, The Gilded Wolves

Last Thoughts Before I’m done

In just a few perfect sentences Chokshi hones into her character with an artisan’s skill.  In this moment we understand her wants, her desire to be in a place that has no other expectation, no pressures, no demons of rejection, somewhere that is safe and wholly hers.  Chokshi does this with all her characters throughout the novel and it makes this story even more rewarding.

As we run at a neck-breaking pace from one puzzle piece to the next, we find ourselves drawn to the friendships created between each character. Each character complements the others, even with their differences, weaknesses and shortcomings.  

They all band together and begin to carve a place for themselves in a city that would rather erase them from memory.  The dialogue is witty and clever, where the characters have a natural dynamic that is in pace with the storytelling.  And as we draw to the end it’s not quite clear if anyone is going to make it out alive.

Art by Nicole Deal

One Last Thought

In short, Gilded Wolves is like Stephen Spielberg’s Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows.  Chokshi blends the wild adventure, an utterly swoon-worthy evolving romances, treasure hunting, and truth seeking with a collection of characters who are not only experts in their individual craft, but are ruthless, with a no-nonsense attitude in obtaining what they want at any cost. 

The novel is full of beauty that floods your senses. Dazzling landscapes, delicious food that has your belly speaking and your mouth watering, and an ending that will have you craving for more.

Happy Reading  ̴  Cece

RATING: ink blotink blotink blot – Satisfyingly Inked

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication Date: May, 2019

Pages: 400

ISBN-10: 125014454X

ISBN-13: 978-1250144546

Audience: Young Adult; ages 12-18

Jacket Photo-Illustration: James Iacobelli

Jacket Design: Kerri Resnick

Similar Books to The Gilded Wolves Recommended by Sheaf and Ink

Six of Crows
Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo

We Hunt the Flame
We Hunt the Flame, Hafsah Faizal

Spin the Dawn
Spin the Dawn, Elizabeth Lim

Need More Book Recommendations?

Sheaf & Ink has reviewed a number of Young Adult novels in historical fiction and fantasy like The Gilded Wolves. Read Wicked Saints and The Silvered Serpents reviews to find your next favorite book and join the conversation. We love hearing from you.

Wicked Saints by Emma A. Duncan

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Cassandra D

    Looks very interesting.

    1. Cece Beckman

      It is! I was intrigued by the author’s note at the end of the book and how she described the origins of her story. If you end up reading, let me know what you think!

  2. Rambling Poet(Dw)

    I’ve been really wanting to read this book! The fantastical sense and romance will most likely make it into my top 10 books of all time. I’m really hoping to get it!

    1. Cece Beckman

      It’s definitely a good read and yes, it has all the right elements for top shelf. The end makes you anxious for the next book. Best of luck!

  3. Lydia

    You should credit the artist of the character images (Nicole Deal, I believe).

    1. Cece Beckman

      Thank you for your comment. If you click on any of the character images they go directly to her website. I’ve updated the captions under each character image with Nicole Deal’s name with another link to her website.

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