I was given an audiobook review copy by the publishers in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book in trilogy
It’s 1889. Paris 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.
Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
THE GILDED WOLVES is a fun heist story set in a historical Paris where magic is controlled by a few, highly secretive families.
I love a well done heist movie and that’s what this feels like. I wish we got more heists in books – good thing I have this trilogy to dive into now. We have puzzles and riddles and traps to get past (and a very “I have no idea how they built this on their estate as it feels very Indiana Jones, but it makes for a fun break in sequence” underground treasure vault.)
Zofia was probably my favourite of the many POVs in the book (basically the whole crew, but four get more time.) Though it’s not stated, she came across as autistic to me, and I love seeing that rep. Just the daily “what are they doing?” difficulties with communication and custom were so easy to relate to. And her friends who are so considerate. Three dresses put out for whether she wants physical comfort, aesthetic niceness, or distraction? That gestures made me so happy.
It took me a while to get into this audiobook, and I almost stopped listening at one point. And that’s not because of the story itself but because of how it’s narrated.
The book (set in France with a diverse cast ) has a jumble of accents thrown in one after another. The pronunciation of the French is good, but many of the accents felt forced, over the top, and stereotypical. It got to the point where it was distracting me from the story.
It also flips between American accent for narration (with French words in a French accent tossed in), and then into non-American accents for speech. The constant, rapid flipping was so jarring. I think consistency (either use a French accent all the way through or an American one) would have made it easier to listen too.
However, the longer I listened to it, the more I got into the story. It’s just a pity it was so distracting and took me a while to get into it. I might have been able to follow the magic system (which was “babel fragments” letting people do stuff? Somehow?) if I’d been less distracted at the start. Certainly it would have helped later on to know exactly what it could do, but I managed to get by.
The ending was so unexpected. I thought it had ended but then there was about two hours left, and that meant a big emotional shocker could be landed on the reader. And now I need to know what comes next, because we get the sense of how they’re all reacting, and I hope they find healthier ways of coping!
The next books aren’t out in the UK yet at time of writing, so I’m going to need to find something else to tide me over in the YA sphere until they do!
Read my reviews of other books by Roshani Chokshi: