It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.
I was so worried when I started this that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I shouldn’t have worried! It lived up to the hype and more.
“Once, there were four Houses of France.
Like all the other Houses within the Order of Babal, the French faction swore to safeguard the location of their Babel fragment, the source of all forging power.
Forging was a power of creation rivalled only by the work of God.
But one House fell.
And another House’s line died without an heir.
Now all that is left is a secret.
Set in 19th Century France, where pieces of the Tower of Babel have been placed around the world, and give people the ability to forge either mind- the ability to read objects or people, or matter – the ability to influence either liquids, solids or gases. The story follows Severin and his band of unlikely misfits; Laila, Zofia, Tristain & Enrique. They use their unique abilities to steal forged items from the two remaining House of France, and one night they uncover a map that would supposedly lead them to the French piece of the Tower of Babel. Except the person they stole it off, Hyponos, the head of House Nyx, isn’t quite ready to give it up. He employs Severin and the group to help him find an item that is in the hands of House Kore by dangling the one thing that he knows Severin cant turn down. The inheritance test to prove he is the rightful heir to House Vanth. Little do they know, there are other people on the search for the Babel piece, and throwing themselves into the search might just prove deadly.
The thing that makes this book for me was definitely the characters. Described as similar to Six of Crows, this band of misfits had me in hysterics, tears and poised with tension throughout most of this book. The story is told from the perspectives of all of Severins crew, and although alternating POV’s can sometimes put me off, I loved viewing the story and scenes through the different view points.
Severin, the rightful heir to House Vanth, he has one wish in the world and that is to be re-instated and be able to join the French Faction of the House’s of Babel. Tristain, Severins best friend since childhood, only wants what is best for Severin, and he’s not sure that being reinstated is such a good thing. He has the ability to forge water, specifically water in plants. And so when he is not running schemes with Severin, he spends his time as a gardener and looking after his giant tarantula Goliath. Laila or L’Enigme fell into Severins gang on the search for a book which could save her life. She has the forged ability to read objects, and spends her nights as a dancer in one of Frances most prestigious clubs. Zofia joined the gang after being arrested and expelled from school in the same night. Her Forging ability gives her control over fire. She doesn’t always get the jokes and sarcasm that the others are so proficient in, but he feels more accepted here than anywhere else in her life. Enrique is the historian, he wants nothing more than to become a leading member of the Illustrados, a group of European-educated Filipinos who dreamed of reform to their Spanish-controlled country. Though not a member of Severin’s gang, one of my favourite characters was Hypnos the leader of House Nyx, witty, flirtatious and a cinnamon roll at heart, I thoroughly enjoyed his parts in the book! This gang seems to gel so completely, each person a part of the finished set, and it just wouldn’t work as well without them all there.
This book was equal parts The Davinci Code & Six of Crows. I live for learning about history and ancient cultures when reading, and this book did not let me down. We get swept away on the adventure to find the French Babel piece and, I couldn’t get enough of Enrique’s Historical input. We get insights into Ancient Egypt as well as French history, which were weaved into the story effortlessly, giving you hints all the way through that lead to the unforgettable ending.
There are a multitude of twists and turns in this book, you are unsure who is the bad guy and because of this I ended up reading the book in one sitting. There is just no good place to put it down, I had to know what happened next and ended up staying up waaaay past my normal bedtime. The ending made a sleepless night so worth it though. Chokshi manages to weave the story together so seamlessly that by the end you cant believe you hadn’t already guessed the outcome. With a cliffhanger ending that had me trawling Netgalley and Edelweiss to see if Silvered Serpents was available for review yet.. its not *cries.* This is an easy 5/5 for me. I’m almost glad I waited to read this, so I don’t have to wait as long for the sequel… even if I want it now!