A good fantasy novel for me is one that not only has strong characters with great chemistry, it also has a unique approach to the fantasy element. Whether the fantasy element is magic, creatures, or other special powers, the author’s approach must satisfy some semblance of possibility and offer something new about it. In The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi offers all this and more.
Any novel is only as good as its characters. In this, The Gilded Wolves succeeds. Séverin’s little troupe not only has a fantastic set of talents, but they have that important chemistry that makes their interactions so enjoyable. In particular, the ongoing simmer between Laila and Séverin is enough to keep the plot at smoldering levels. However, Ms. Chokshi does not stop there. She develops each member of the group to hold the plot together on his or her own. With a group with as varied a set of backgrounds and personalities, every point of view is a pleasure.
More importantly, I adore the magical element of the story. Ms. Chokshi’s use of biblical artifacts as the cornerstone for all magic in her world is unusual, unexpected, and very creative. In particular, the fact that magic has its origins in very real objects and is, in some aspect, very tangible, makes the entire story more plausible. Anything that gives me hope that magic actually exists is a winner in my mind.
The Gilded Wolves is everything I love about a fantasy story, but it doesn’t stop there. With its slow-burning romance, scientific approach to magic, and family drama, there is enough within its pages to entice a variety of readers. Fin-de-siècle Paris and The Gilded Wolves is escapist fiction at its finest.