The Gilded Wolves is a heist style novel reminiscent of Six of Crows, but that is where the similarities end. Set in Paris in 1889, the city is on the cusp of advancement and change, with the Exposition Universelle filling the city with industrial advances and the whiff of new power. There’s magic to this world, with characters having the power to read objects or build incredible inventions as they try to navigate this changing world.
The tone of the novel is set immediately, thrusting the characters and the reader into this world where the fragments of the Tower of Babel are protected by the Order of Babel. In France, this falls to the four Houses. Each House also tracks in magical artifacts, selling them to the highest bidder who then marks them with the name of their House. The seal makes them impossible to steal when they’re under House protection…but there is a short window before they’re marked where a well-planned heist could pay off.
This is where Séverin and his crew come in. Each of them have talents, whether it’s reading an object, creating explosives, or inventing new things for heists. They work together as an efficient unit, stealing things that others don’t want them to have. When one of the House patriarchs enlists them for a mission, Séverin and the others find themselves embroiled in a situation that is bigger than any of them anticipated.
What I really love about The Gilded Wolves are the characters. There’s a really diverse set of characters, and each of them have very unique backstories. They may be working together right now, but they all have their own agendas too. Séverin is trying to restore his name. Laila is trying to save herself. Enrique wants to be seen for his talents. This book pulls them together and pushes them apart in equal measure. As I was reading, I had a really clear picture of them all in my head, which was built by how they viewed themselves and each other.
I liked that Chokshi wrote in multiple POVs, because it allowed the reader to get to know each character individually. You knew the secrets they sometimes kept from one another because they were honest with themselves, but sometimes those around them have no idea. These are people that society has a very clear and judgmental view of, but they do not let that define who they are.
The Paris in The Gilded Wolves is a mysterious setting. It’s very much a glittering city that hides a dark underbelly, with people completely unaware of what is happening around them. I love the idea of things not being as they seem and this book really hits that mark. While most of the novel takes place in Séverin’s hotel, it’s against the backdrop of the Exposition Universelle. There’s an element of the old competing with the new, and some of the book even takes place in the catacombs! I only wish more time had been spent there, because that was a big draw for me.
The downfall of this book is that it takes far too long to really get into the action. As much as I love the characters, the first half of this book focused on planning and talking about the heist and there wasn’t much going on. Frankly, I wasn’t really engaged by it, which was extremely disappointing because this was one I was looking forward to. I am glad that I kept reading because the second half of the book really pushes the characters. And the ending! It’s one that grabs you and makes you want to read the second book.
I recommend this book for readers who like books in the style of Six of Crows, with a group of characters who go up against odds that seem impossible to beat. I really liked the world in The Gilded Wolves and can’t wait to see what happens to the characters in the next!
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Have you read The Gilded Wolves? What are some other heist novels you can recommend?