I don’t have much to say except this is my least favorite Roshani Chokshi novel. I have loved her other works and have no interest in reading anymore about “The Gilded Wolves”. Chokshi shines when she follows one character through a story and has them meeting others along the way. Heck, I loved her book “A Crown of Wishes” since in that one she followed a young man and woman. In this latest we follow I think 5 people. Every chapter lets us know who we are following now. This whole book was really about a heist and made me think about the Ocean’s franchise (not in a good way) with two characters fighting feelings for each other. And we get information dumps galore to you want to beg for mercy to make it all stop.
So we have four characters we follow in this book. They are: Severin, Laila, Enrique, and Zofia. I will praise Chokshi for including diverse characters with different sexual orientations. However, after a while it started to fill like she was filling out some unseen card to make sure that she had every ethnicity and religion represented and that’s all the characters were for most of the book. I couldn’t even tell you anything about Zofia besides what her ability is and that she’s Jewish. There was a lack of development with all of the main characters in this one along with secondary characters.
It’s a lot to read and take in and it seems the first part of the book is just devoted to how Severin found everyone and brought them together. And of course Severin is a tortured hero because he was denied his place in ruling his House. Everyone seems to have undying loyalty to Severin and be in love with him. Some reviewers noted that Severin and Laila are similar to characters who appear in Six of Crows. I can’t comment on that since I haven’t read the book, but a lot of people called it out in their reviews, so make of that what you will.
We also have side characters like Tristan and Hypnos who were confusing by far, but don’t merit (well Hypnos gets one) their own standalone chapters. Hypnos gets the last chapter in the book and it’s only for someone to reveal something to him.
I needed the characters to come alive a lot more in this one. And can we please stop with characters not being together for whatever stupid reason it is in YA books? Angst is getting old. Just have them be or not be and move on from it.
The writing was so-so. All of the dialogue/banter was just eye-roll inducing after a while. Chokshi kept cutting away if one character (or two) were in peril to jump back to another character who would just go on about something and then wonder where characters one and two were. It kept messing with the flow of the book from beginning to end.
The world building was beyond confusing. We read about forging, the Houses, different races/religions,rings, the Babel fragments, about how houses are inherited, and I just felt my eyes glaze over. Also this is a pet peeve of mine, if you tell readers how magic works in your book, you don’t get to change it and or make it be unclear. I am still lost on how most of these people’s powers work since at one point I think Laila had two separate powers.
The book being set in Paris in 1889 was initially intriguing, but I quickly lost any love for that since it seemed to just be a means to an end. Unlike with the “The Star-Touched Queen” none of the places the characters go to seem real. I felt like I was in the Night’s Bazaar when I read about it. It seems it should have been easy for Chokshi to bring Paris to life. Especially a Paris of her own imagining with magic. In book two, Chokshi really needs to explain the backstory to the Houses, people, governments, etc. much better. And I don’t know if information dumps is the way to go or just have someone go “And in the beginning…” and go from there.
The book included some illustrations of things the characters were seeing, and I just hard passed it all after a while. I just didn’t care and wanted the book to be over already.
The ending was a surprise though. We find out that one character’s belief about themselves and what was done to them was totally wrong. That’s still not enough for me to continue to read this book.