The Silvered Serpents

By Roshani Chokshi

Rating: 3 stars

So it turns out that my worries about this being too grimdark for me and make me nope out of the series, a la The Kingdom of Copper, didn’t come to pass. While I rolled my eyes as Séverin’s descent into full emo-dom (all he needed was some black eyeshadow), he, and the rest of the crew, never became so unlikeable that I didn’t want to spend time with them.

So in this volume, the crew, aided by the Matriarch of House Kore of France and the Patriarch of House Dazbog of Russia are searching for a book called The Divine Lyrics, which the Fallen House thought could be used to become gods, and which Séverin secretly wants to use to undo his mistakes, and maybe even bring Tristan back from the dead. Yeah, he’s deep in the ‘denial’ and maybe ‘bargaining’ stage of grief at the moment. Tristan’s death has changed the dynamic amongst the crew as a whole. They are sadder and less united than ever, but they’ve got to pull together for this one last big heist.

Despite Séverin’s overblown angst, the character I possibly felt most for was Hypnos. He’s trying his best to fit in and be part of the group, but they never see him as one of them. And neither, it seems, does the author, who never gives us chapters from his point of view, unlike the others. I hope this changes in the next book, since it feels like Hypnos has earned his place in the group by now. And despite his surface layer of charm and easy manner, I get the feeling he’s someone who’s deeply insecure and needs to be part of something bigger than himself.

I didn’t feel Laila got an awful lot to do in this book. She was there mostly to both angst towards Séverin and be a source of angst for him. I hope she gets to be more active in the next book. Zofia and Enrique continue to be my favourite characters, although even they don’t escape the veneer of gloom that has overlaid the group, with the former looking much more towards her ill sister back in Poland, and the latter thinking about revolution and freedom for his native Philippines. Although Zofia does provide one of the best images in the whole book, as she charges to the rescue, atop a stag made of ice with a flaming sword in her hand. It’s magnificent!

In the last book, Matriarch Delphine of House Kore was nothing more than a shadowy antagonist, who, for unknown reasons, stole Séverin’s inheritance. Here, the author tries to show us a different side to her – after the bombshell in the epilogue of the first book. I’m not sure she entirely succeeds. While she believes that she did what she did to protect Séverin, I don’t really understand how. And I still don’t understand why she appears to have sacrificed herself near the end of the book. I read the passage several times, but it still didn’t make sense to me.

With time ticking away until Laila’s nineteenth birthday, and the prophesied date of her death, the last book has a lot of plot to play with, but also a lot to tie up.

Book details

ISBN: 9781250144584
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Year of publication: 2021

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)

By Roshani Chokshi

Rating: 3 stars

In Belle Époque France, at the end of the nineteenth century, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is bitter that his inheritance as the heir to one of the great hidden powers of France was stolen from him. Then he is offered a change to recover his heritage, and he gathers his unlikely band together to pull off the heist of a lifetime.

So this book wasn’t about “getting the gang together” for the heist, as I thought. At the start, they’re already a well-oiled team, having “acquired” many artifacts in the past. Each of them has a reason for being where they are and doing what they do. Whether it’s engineer Zofia who doesn’t understand people, but does understand numbers, and has a debt to pay; or historian Enrique, whose mixed heritage leaves him an outsider wherever he goes, and who hopes that if Séverin gets what he wants, it will offer him an in. And then there’s Laila, dancer and baker extraordinaire, searching for a hidden book and hoarding her own secret.

It wasn’t until I came to review the book on GoodReads did I see that it’s classed as YA, which sort of explains a few things. Firstly, the characters are all young: in their late teens or early twenties, and second, there are so many strong emotions flying around. It was somewhat exhausting to read, but then I’m a guy in his forties now, when things are a little more sedate than when you’re a teenager and have All The Feels.

I’m a bit worried by the ending, that this might be a case where the rest of the trilogy delves into miserablist territory. I had that with City of Brass, and never made it past the second book because of how miserable it was and how much I hated all the characters. Given the end here, I’m a bit worried that might happen here too (although I hope I could never hate Zofia or Enrique). I’m still going to give book two a go though.

Book details

ISBN: 9781250144553
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Year of publication: 2020

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