The Gilded Wolves, by Roshani Chokshi
Age Range: 12-18 years
It's 1889. The city 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.
Guys, I love a good treasure hunt. And this book was a GOOD treasure hunt. (It was actually the thing that made me want to watch National Treasure.) And while I love the adventures and the prospect of treasure, I love the cast of characters even more.
I honestly tried to pick a favorite from the group, and couldn't. I love all of them for different reasons!
One of the things I love most about Séverin is that he is a man of action. He had so much unfairly taken from him, and I loved watching him risk everything to get it back. He is a natural born leader, and would rather die than let anything happen to any member of his group. And in addition to being a leader, trouble making comes pretty easily to Séverin as well.
Tristan, who Séverin vowed to protect when they were just mere children, is as kind as they come. He pours his heart into each of his creations in the garden of Séverin's hotel, and adores nature so much as to keep a pet tarantula named Goliath, much to Laila's chagrin.
Laila possesses a unique gift that allows her to read any object she touches--where it is from, who made it, etc--as long as it's not Forged. And while that gift may be useful for Séverin's treasure hunting purposes, she's not proud of how she came to possess that talent. A baker, dancer, and the only member of Séverin's group not bound by an oath, Laila is a woman of many talents, and a powerful asset to the team. But that doesn't mean she intends to stay with them. Laila's on her own treasure hunt, searching for the only thing that can save her life, before her time runs out.
In addition to all that, Laila is also a great friend. Especially to Zofia, a Polish girl exiled from her school after she was charged with arson. Zofia's mind rotates around numbers, and she's as intelligent as they come. For this, I absolutely adore Zofia. I can totally relate to her social ineptitude. XD (Although, I would never start a fire in a school, or like math.) And even though I love Zofia, not everyone does.
Enrique, the resident historian and complete nerd of the group won my heart over the minute he danced across the page. He's always striving to be the best, and cannot stand it when Zofia outshines him. (He also tends to be rather snarky, which I always enjoy.)
Roshani Chokshi did a fantastic job creating a diverse group of characters, and included people from all different religions and ethnicities--a detail I loved about her book.
I will admit, at some points of the book, I was only reading for the characters. Roshani's writing is pretty flowery, and with a plot as complicated as hers, there were points where I had absolutely no idea what was going on.
I generally lean towards books with more dialogue than description, and although this book did not meet that profile, at the end of the day, I still enjoyed it. That being said, the end of The Gilded Wolves is by-far better than the beginning. There are a lot of things that need to be foreshadowed and set up to play out later, and while this does kind of weigh down the pacing at the exposition, it is totally worth it in the end.
You can find Roshani's website here and you can read a free excerpt of The Gilded Wolves here