Review: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2)

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Silvered Serpents is the second novel in The Gilded Wolves trilogy and it picks up not long after the close of the first novel. Each of those working with Séverin are struggling to deal with their feeling about the death of Tristan at the end of the first book. Laila blames herself for not having revealed the core of darkness that was eating Tristan alive. Zofia wonders what she might have done. Enrique feels distanced from Séverin even as he sees that Tristan's death is eating his friend alive inside. Hypnos dances around all of the no-longer-merry band he wanted to join, but always hovering on the edges of belonging. They are shadows of themselves, and Séverin especially begins to grow colder, harder, and angrier than the young man we met in the first book. As his diffident relationship with Laila sours by degrees and the clock counts down her life, Laila pulls away from L'Eden, even if she hasn't given up the quest for some of the treasures the group must seek. She takes Enrique and Zofia into her confidence about the fragility of her situation, and her reasons for continuing to help the group as they seek out The Divine Lyrics that she hopes will provide answers to stop her impending death. But what are Séverin's reasons, really? And after the revelation at the end of the first book, that Séverin isn't the heir to the house he believes he is, exactly who is he really?

The Silvered Serpents builds upon the complex story that Chokshi is trying to tell, showing us how each of her major characters strives to find a place and people with whom they fit in. Since the first book, we felt that was L'Eden and with each other but the edges of this tapestry are badly frayed. Séverin's hubris in thinking it's his job to protect everyone from everything begins to rub them all the wrong way, especially Enrique, who becomes unsure whether that protection isn't really just a way to control everyone, with Séverin keeping all his players in a state of play, when and where he wants them. Yet through all this, Laila and Zofia shine. Zofia, who is so clearly on the high functioning autism spectrum, makes progress in her interactions with the others in this novel and begins to recognize her own strengths instead of just her weaknesses. And her emerging greatest strength is her great courage in wanting to help Laila. Laila is more defined in this book, less a femme fatale than an alluring, all-mothering figure. Laila is the one who knows how everyone wants and needs things, and yet she is also growing weary of putting up with Séverin and his growing callousness. Enrique also evolves in this novel, coming to see Hypnos, Séverin, and Zofia with clearer eyes.

I enjoyed this second book and found the introduction of Ruslan and Eva to be interesting if predictable development. The revelations at the end of this novel offer insight into the revelations of the first novel and set up daunting possibilities for the third novel of the trilogy. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Chokshi closes out the trilogy.

I received a paper and digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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