Set in a dazzling alternate version of Paris during the days leading up the 1889 World Exposition, “The Gilded Wolves” is full of magic, mystery and intrigue.
The world of Gilded Wolves swirls around objects embedded with or rather forged with magic — a magic that has been passed down since the time of Babel. It is controlled by a select few powerful aristocratic families.
The main character, Severin, is in pursuit of restoring his family name and rights to this power through any means possible. By surrounding himself with a diverse group of individuals, each with unique skills, Severin, begins his dogged pursuit with tragic consequences that ends with one hell of a cliffhanger.
Told through multiple points of view, Chokshi gives each character in Severin’s group his own set of chapters to reveal his true motives. This can be a tricky task with so many characters. In this case, at least five characters have stories to tell and secrets to keep hidden. Their histories are unique as are their individual ties to Severin and each other.
Severin is an enigmatic individual. He is determined to restore his family name, sometimes at the expense of his own well-being and often at the expense of his friends. Severin would probably insist that he has no platonic or romantic feelings for those he’s surrounded himself with to achieve his goal. It’s hard to know, at the end of the book, if readers should like or hate him or even feel sorry for him. This blurred line may frustrate some. But the real world is rarely black and white, and this grayness may draw readers in, especially those who like the “bad boys.”
The most sympathetic character in the book may be Laila or L’Enigme. A dancer by trade and a spy on the side, Laila possesses some curious talents that enhance her abilities as a spy. Readers learn quickly that her life is not a natural one. Her back story may be the most intriguing one of all. Where Severin’s story is fairly straight forward, Laila’s is fraught with magic and secrecy. She’s not entirely human and her time “being alive” is driving her pursuit to find a book that holds the secret to her existence. The most frustrating part of “The Gilded Wolves” is that her story isn’t resolved and by the end she’s not any closer to figuring out if she can stop the clock from running out.
Chokshi paints a beautiful and tragic story. Each character pops and sizzles with her own agenda, wants and needs, and fears. The city of Paris buzzes and crackles with magic and secrets. Creating a spectacular set of physically and emotionally diverse characters, readers should prepare for a roller-coaster ride that doesn’t stop when the final page is turned.