Thanks for the advance copy, NetGalley! This book comes out on Jan 15th and you can get it here.
What I “drank”: 7 hours of interrupted, congested sleep. Twice I woke up thinking I hadn’t emailed work to tell them I was going to be out sick. Adulting is awful.
What it’s about: Fantasy heist story in late 1800s Paris, with a diverse cast of characters. A young man, Severin, is offered a chance to claim his inheritance if he helps a shadow organization find an ancient artifact. Severin obvi needs to assemble a team to get the artifact, and there are many secrets revealed.
My thoughts: there are two major takeaways I had after reading this book
1. The thing I love about a lot of fantasy, scifi, and alt history books written in the past few years is that authors are afforded an opportunity to introduce diversity, but it’s often done heavy-handedly or with great difficulty.
Chokshi does not have that problem; minority characters are not delegated to secondary roles, but are major players with meaty storylines and unforced, clear motivations. The worldbuilding of fantasy/alt-history Paris is done so well that the ways in which these characters’ paths cross is BELIEVEABLE. I’m half-Filipino, so I had a personal interest in the introduction of a Filipino character, and I’m impressed in how Chokshi got that character to Paris. I’m impressed how she gets all these characters to Paris. Nothing feels shoehorned, it all just works.
I also really enjoyed how views on science and magic (and really faith, too) were twined together at a time when science was making major strides, because that IS difficult and a lot of authors kind of sidestep how these matters affect each other, or only view them as direct adversaries.
2. Chokshi’s writing is lovely and the story is well-paced–but how many heist books do we really need? I got major Six of Crows (and Locke Lamora, etc.) vibes the entire time. To be fair, I enjoyed this much, much more than Six of Crows, but it just wasn’t the most original story. But maybe book 2 will be wildly different and I’ll look a fool.
What I gave it: 4 stars
What I’d pair it with: white Bordeaux because France and I’m into white Bordeaux lately