Terra's Reads: The Gilded Wolves

There is truly only one way to describe The Gilded Wolves. It is a decadent thrill for the senses. Very few books make me as giddy to read as this one did, and if I could use even more fitting words of description I would. Those words probably only exist in French, which I am despairingly rusty at so I’ll do my best with English.

Picture this: Me with this vibrant green tome in my hands, pretzeled into my turquoise desk chair, with my feet folded under me, one knee by my face, which is hidden behind a curtain of my messy hair, and my back curved around the pages as if blocking out the rest of the world. That’s how I sat while I read this over the last 3 days. Leaving this world Choksi spun was agony each time I had to close the book in order to tend to my actual life. My back is still sore.  

Here’s the synopsis from the book jacket:

            From New York Times bestselling author Roshani Choksi comes a novel set in Paris during a time of extraordinary change – one that is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous desires…

            It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new likfe into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure hunter and wealthy hotelier Severin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Severin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

            To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Severin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together they will join Severin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history – but only if they can stay alive.

In all honesty, I put off reading The Gilded Wolves. I preordered it and have had it sitting next to me bed since January, but not once did I attempt to read it. Why? I’m a tad emotional about books, and when I have high expectations for a new one I get nervous that it will somehow fall short of those expectations. I tend to build things up in my head: books, adventures, relationships, etc. Because I have an over-active imagination and my mother says I live in my own little world inside my head. *shrugs* My defense mechanism then kicks in so I put off reading a book that I was chomping at the bit to begin. 

Finally, thankfully, I pulled The Gilded Wolves from it’s slot on the bottom of the bedside table stack. Immediately I fell into a world full of the most opulent scenery, wittiest characters, dazzling magic, and adrenaline-pulsing adventure. I absorbed this book like a sponge, and now I feel like I’ll never survive until the sequel comes out in 2020. That means one thing. I’ll have to read it again and absorb even more of it’s history and myth and subtle hints.

Aside from the plot (quick paced and full of surprises), the characters (each so lovable, interesting, and funny in their own ways), and the poetic prose (Choksi conjured true visions with those words), I am head-over-heels obsessed with the amount of world history, mythology, and mathematics woven into the fabric of this book. Choksi didn’t just include the history of Paris itself since that is the main stage of the book, but also ancient Egypt, the Philippines, India, the Americas, ancient Greece, and China. She brought together so much of our collective past to paint a touching display of our interconnected histories.

From the start there were nods to ancient Greece with names and phrases. She included and explained bits of Indian culture and religion, which just made the book really soar in my opinion. The characters analyzed all kinds of mythology throughout the world and their parallels with one another. There was even advanced and interesting mathematics incorporated into the puzzles and mysteries – I absolutely hate math, but now I’m considering doing some research on the more philosophical sectors. Thank you, Zofia, for that.

I’m still in awe thinking of how Choksi tied all of it together into a masterpiece.

You can’t truly understand the scope of all that until you read the book, so please, hurry and read it so someone else can talk to me about it.

So the book is called The Gilded Wolves. Gilded because of all the bad things kept hidden behind the world of Parisian glamour, and Wolves because this book is centered on a group of friends that run in a pack, essentially.

First you have Severin, the leader. He has a mission to reclaim what is his and intends to aid and protect his friends as they help him do so. He is wealthy, he is refined, he is kind, but he is also willing to do whatever he has to, no matter if that might be considered “bad.” Then there is Laila, who is beautiful and mysterious and has her own secrets, which are as beautiful and mysterious as she is. Enrique the historian provides much of the comedic relief, but he too has ambitions that he takes seriously and will do what he needs to in order to achieve them. Zofia is capable of a certain type of magic, and paired with her own considerable genius that makes her arguably the most fearsome of the group despite her personal struggles. Finally there is Tristan, the youngest and the sweetest. Tristan can also perform a certain type of magic that produces stunning results and also deadly consequences.  

This ragtag clan is pulled together by Severin, but held together by the love they have for each other. While The Gilded Wolves might be a treasure hunt, at its heart it is a story of loyalty, found-family, and knowing that the true treasure cannot by bought or stolen. It was easy to fall in love with all five of these characters. From the beginning they made me laugh with their witty repertoire and distinct character quirks. They impressed me with the knowledge and courage. They touched me with their love and protectiveness for one another. It was like reading about the type of friend group you want to have growing up. Leaving them all at the end of the book, knowing their struggling with what’s to come in the second book, was heart-wrenching.

You know me. I’m a total sucker for book characters. Why can’t these five exist in real life?

It may have taken me five months to begin reading The Gilded Wolves, but this is a book I will undoubtedly reread many times in my life.

Tell me, have you read The Gilded Wolves? Did you love it the way I do? If you haven’t read it, do you want to now?