The Gilded Wolves came highly recommended to me, and so when I noticed it at my local library, I couldn’t help but pick it up. What I found was a fun, if at times angst, tale set in a 19th century France where magic is common. It didn’t check every box, but what it got right it got right nearly perfectly.
We’ll start with what I loved, and first and foremost on that list is the banter. Chokshi writes brilliant, punchy dialog. When the characters on the team get going, you just sort of want them to never stop because the dialog is so fun and witty and engaging. This is basically a fantasy Ocean’s 11, with a much smaller team. Heist novels often contain some great character banter, and Chokshi’s tale is no exception. The overall plot was also interesting, and seeing the characters undertake several heists, bringing their own talents to the table in various ways, was a highlight of the novel for me. There are also some very tense moments during these heists. Overall the plot is well done, easy to follow, and - for me - it was a highlight of the novel. The magic is also neat. The magic focuses on objects and people who are capable of making certain types of objects that are essentially enchanted. This plays in perfectly with the heist plot. Add in some world building and history around the main character who has been denied his birthright and you have the ingredients for what could be a truly epic story that has great depth to it.
Unfortunately, all those ingredients didn’t come together perfectly for me. While the plot was fun and there were tense moments, I ultimately found things a bit too predictable. More disappointing was that I didn’t notice much character growth throughout the novel. While it was interesting to read about the characters and get to know them, and they had great banter, I didn’t feel like they changed much from the beginning to the end. Combined with a somewhat predictable plot, this makes it hard to give an unequivocal recommendation on this one. I was also unclear on exactly how old these characters were supposed to be. I guess they’re supposed to be late teens, but they seem significantly older. This dissonance constantly intruded on the story for me.
Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves is going to appeal to plenty of folks. Those looking for a French inspired story will certainly find that here. The banter is wonderful at points and there are some tender moments between characters. But those moments never really blossom into changes or transformation for those characters and none of the elements managed to cohere for me. It’s an intriguing read, but it doesn’t quite rise to its full potential.
Review by Calvin Park
6/10 from 1 reviews
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