Monday, September 14, 2020

Review: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi

The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)
The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi
Wednesday Books
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2020
Hardcover. 416 pages

About The Silvered Serpents:

"They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost — one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job."

The Gilded Wolves was an extremely hyped fantasy release last year that I was personally a bit disappointed with. However, the ending of The Gilded Wolves was enough of an interesting cliffhanger that when I was presented with the opportunity to read a copy of The Silvered Serpents, I knew I wanted to check it out. Fortunately, I can say that I thought The Silvered Serpents was definitely an improvement from the first, though it still lacked a little something to completely draw me in. 

The Silvered Serpents picks up not too long after the events of The Gilded Wolves with all of our characters moving on from and trying to pick up the pieces of some of the more tragic fallout. Now the group of friends are somewhat reluctantly coming together to hunt down an ancient artifact that both Séverin and Laila are after, though both for vastly different reasons. This book really felt like a departure from the first book for a variety of reasons, including the differing relationship dynamics, location, and motivations for each character. 

As mentioned, a majority of the events of The Silvered Serpents take place in one new location, the ice palace, which I think added a new and interesting dimension to the series. I really enjoyed exploring this new setting because it sounds stunning and I found it to be one of those places that simply embodies a sense of intrigue and mystery, and I also thought that the singular setting allowed for Chokshi to really spend more time focusing on character development and plot, which she did really well. There was one particular place within the ice palace known as the Menagerie that was filled with a variety of rather...foreboding animals made of ice that was easily one of the most captivating components of the palace. 

I once again seemed to struggle with connecting to the characters as a group, but individually I felt that their development and Chokshi's descriptions were strong and effective in showcasing the internal struggles that each one faced. However, I feel like I once again struggled with enjoying the group as a whole. The camaraderie feels forced, and one of the my favorite characters from the first book was no longer which only added to the sort of disjointed feeling. There were a lot of conflicts between the characters, which of course is only natural when faced with high stress situations and pasts full of secrets, but it did sort of take away from the experience that the first book had where everyone seemed to mostly work together. There were also a few newer characters that we got to know and that I thought added some particularly interesting new dynamics to the story and friend group. I liked parts of these new characters, but I found some of the ways in which Chokshi incorporate them felt slightly awkward at times. 

Much like in The Gilded Wolves, this book was full of puzzles that our characters had to solve throughout the course of the book. Some of these were enjoyable and interesting, but I also lost interest in a lot of them and the explanations and/or descriptions of the characters figuring out how to solve them. On the one hand, I appreciate how much thought and effort Chokshi always puts into these components, but on the other hands I often feel that they drastically alter the pace of the story and cause things to start dragging a bit. There was also still a small issue with info-dumping and what seems to be a desire to include so much that just overwhelms the plot and story. Despite this, it was still a mostly entertaining read and I genuinely enjoyed the imaginative creations and plot that Chokshi developed. 

Overall, I've given The Silvered Serpents 3.25 stars! If you read and enjoyed The Gilded Wolves, then you'll definitely enjoy The Silvered Serpents as well. 

*I received a copy of The Silvered Serpents in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

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