THE GILDED WOLVES
by Roshani Chokshi
young adult | historical fiction
publication date: 15 January 2019 by Wednesday Books
No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.
It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin 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 Séverin 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.
I decided to re-read The Gilded Wolves and I actually was too late to join #thegildedwolvesreadathon but I was glad that I finished it on time! Honestly, I was afraid it would change my opinion about the book–but turned out, it didn’t. There are so many details that I didn’t pay attention the first time I read it and these details make me love The Gilded Wolves even more. This is also my proper review of The Gilded Wolves because when I first read this book, I couldn’t form a word to say. The ending of the book wrecked me and Roshani Choskhi put me in a reading slump because I couldn’t move on from her book… you know, just a legendary author doing legendary things.
Roshani Chokshi shaped an already existing concept into a magical one. The Gilded Wolves is crafted from Biblical concepts mixed with myths from around the world and historical aspects that everyone seems to overlook. Honestly, I wasn’t familiar with the Babel concept until I read The Gilded Wolves, but to me, it wasn’t as confusing as everyone claimed (and warned me) to. Okay, here goes things I love about The Gilded Wolves, the first time I read it and after the re-read!
LITTLE THINGS I LOVE
- Laila. My girl is the mom friend and puts her heart on her sleeves. She’s so caring to the L’Eden group, especially to Tristan. But again, who doesn’t treat Tristan like a baby? Even Séverin does.
- The magic system! Although I wish the magic system was more explored, I love the idea of it.
- This may sound weird but I love the way The Gilded Wolves encourages me to participate in cracking every code they have. I may not be as smart as Zofia and Enrique but hey it’s still fun.
- Hypnos being a big baby. He can be charming and adorable at the same time.
- The mythological references! House Kore taking the Underworld aesthetic and Hypnos being the patriarch of House Nyx. I see what you did right there.
- Tristan’s love for Goliath. I don’t know a person can see a giant gargantula as some kind of cat… but Tristan did and he’s adorable for that.
- Séverin’s and Tristan’s seven fathers that mirror the Seven Deadly Sins. It’s an amazing concept.
- Laila’s and Séverin’s relationship. No words on this one. They make me so emotional.
- The cover!!! Seriously, the cover is amazing.
- The diverse casts. I love it when a book has a diverse ensemble cast and the author treats them equally.
Now, onto the things that make me rate The Gilded Wolves 5 stars:
1. The discussion about colonialism.
During the 18th century, many Europeans still colonized many countries in Asia. Having Enrique talked about colonialism here means a lot to me. Not many historical fiction talks about colonialism, many pretends it didn’t exist. So really, I appreciate that Roshani Chokshi highlights the big issue everyone seems to overlook. For many of us, pre-World War II is a really dark time and again, I appreciate Roshani Chokshi for showing us the dark side of the 18th century. Whereas people seem to praise the era and often romanticize it, I’m glad she didn’t.
2. The talk about a human zoo
Colonialism is not the only thing Roshani Chokshi exposed on The Gilded Wolves. There is a systematic racism that was (still is) normalized. Sets in the time as Exposition Universelle’s opening, Roshani Chokshi took her time to highlight a human zoo that was presented as the major attraction. On the author’s note, Roshani Chokshi mentioned another human zoo that displayed Igorot people in another world fair. Human zoos were horrifying and abusing the culture of people ‘on the display’. Although it wasn’t actually shown in the book, I was glad that Roshani Chokshi mentioned it–as since the 1800s, human zoos were normalized to support the superiority complex Europeans gave over other cultures.
3. Highlighting cultural appropriation
Sometimes when talking about cultural appropriation, you think only white people are responsible for it. While most of the time they’re the one doing it, POC are also capable of appropriating another culture and often get away with it. In The Gilded Wolves, one of the characters was asked to perform a sacred dance in an entertaining, stereotyping way. The character even was asked to wear clothes that support the narration that this dancing is for entertainment only. I was honestly annoyed while reading this, but the second time re-reading this book, I realized the message Roshani Chokshi tried to put; that POC are able to appropriate another culture and it’s actually harmful to portray a culture inaccurately.
I’m trying not to be biased, but, The Gilded Wolves does not deserve all the negative reviews, especially the ones that keep saying this book is copying Six Of Crows. The clues and codes that were thrown everywhere in the book might make you confused, but if you pay attention, you realize that it is not confusing at all!
P.s. I’m trying to make a new template for my book review. When I don’t really have much to say, instead of doing a mini review, why don’t I list things like this? What do you think? Is it easier to read? Please let me know!