Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Paris, 1889: Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is well known throughout Paris society as a wealthy hotelier-a persona that helps him acquire secrets and artifacts from the French faction of the Order. The Order is composed of powerful houses that manage all Forged artifacts and guard the secrets of the Babel Fragments that make Forging both materials and minds possible. Over the years, Séverin has created a loyal team to help with his acquisitions: Tristan, his brother in everything but blood; Enrique, a Filipino historian eager to champion his own cause; Zofia, a Polish engineer with obligations of her own; and Lailah, an Indian dancer with a secret that could be deadly. The Order has taken everything from Séverin, but if he and his crew find an ancient artifact for a rival, he could get it all back and change their fates. This series starter is a sumptuous historical fantasy that perfectly evokes the luxury and unrest of Belle Époque Paris alongside a carefully detailed world where Babel fragments allow Forgers to create wonders. Séverin and members of his crew alternate chapters in close third-person, introducing readers to their faceted backstories while the narrative unfolds. Chokshi has -created an inclusive and authentic cast with obvious chemistry and affection for one another and infuses the tale with witty banter and twists. In addition to solving ciphers and riddles on the hunt for the artifact, these characters also interrogate the troubling history of European colonialism and cultural appropriation. VERDICT A -delectably intriguing adventure for all teen shelves.-Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Chokshi (A Crown of Wishes , 2017) delivers a thrilling, gritty new fantasy set in an alternate nineteenth-century Paris, where old secrets and even older magic reside. Here, Séverin leads an Ocean's Eleven-style crew of outcasts and schemes to take back the inheritance and title out of which he was swindled. His criminally inclined team is a diverse one. Zofia is a mathematician expelled from her university and arrested for arson; Enrique straddles two identities and struggles for acceptance; Laila possesses the ability to read objects' histories; and Hypnos has been denied his heritage because of the color of his skin. The brutal, corrupt world of this Paris is controlled from the shadows by the powerful and sinister Order of Babel. When the Order solicits Séverin's help to hunt down a precious artifact, Séverin answers their call because he cannot refuse the payment they offer his inheritance. He and his crew embark on a perilous journey that threatens to claim their lives and alter history. Chokshi shines as a master storyteller in her newest novel; the setting, world building, plot, and conflict are all staggering. However, the elements that perhaps shine the most are the history, riddles, mysteries, and science, woven together in a world brimming with power and magic. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Chokshi's fantasies are regularly best-sellers, and the publisher's 100,000 first print run indicates they expect nothing less from this one.--Enishia Davenport Copyright 2018 Booklist
Kirkus Review
Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows (2015) and Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (2003) converge in this dazzling new fantasy. The backdrop is 1889 Paris, just weeks before the Exposition Universelle. Forging is a divine art, believed to emanate from the broken fragments of the Tower of Babel. The French faction of the Order of Babel, which is currently in charge of protecting the West's Babel Fragment, now consists of only two Houses after one House fell and another died without an heir. Sverin Montagnet-Alarie, infamous thief and hotelier, half-French and half-North African, is the rejected heir of the dead House Vanth who longs to claim his inheritance. Hypnos, the dark-skinned, blue-eyed son of a Martiniquan mother and French aristocrat father, is the patriarch of House Nyx and Sverin's childhood rival. He offers to help fulfill Sverin's desire if Sverin retrieves a Horus Eye, an artifact which can reveal the location of a Babel fragment. To accomplish his mission, Sverin enlists the help of his closest allieshis brother Tristan, a landscape artist; bisexual Enrique, a half-Filipino, half-Spanish historian; Zofia, a Polish-Jewish engineer; and Laila, an Asian Indian dancer. Readers will be fascinated by each cast member's unique background and personal motives. Chokshi (Star-Touched Stories, 2018, etc.) creatively reimagines history, weaving fantastical elements with symbology and broadening the scope of her narrative by integrating multiethnic worldviews. An opulent heist adventure that will leave readers voracious for more. (Historical fantasy. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.