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.
How am I supposed to explain how much I loved this book? I wasn’t going to read this because of all of the negative or average reviews. All I have to say is, what is wrong with you people?? This book has been (wrongly) compared to Six of Crows. I slightly understand the comparison, but this story was so different.
We follow several different characters who all have different goals, but they’ve become a family of sorts and I loved every single one of them. I’ll start with Severin. He’s our damaged boy. I adored him. He’s supposed to have inherited his parent’s ring and become the patriarch of his family, but that right was stolen from him. His goal is to change that and reinstate his family, to become the patriarch that he was always supposed to be. After his parents died and his birthright was stolen from him, he was moved from home to home until he came into his monetary inheritance. I really liked the bits and pieces we got about each of his foster fathers. He also has a brother, Tristan.
Tristan is an awkward nerdy kid and I freaking loved him. He has this horrifying pet spider that he loves dearly. I don’t like spiders, but I loved Tristan. He’s like the little brother of everyone in the group. I adored how much everyone loves him. He’s a sweet little bean and I would die for him.
Laila is from India. She’s a dancer and loves to bake. That’s my kind of lady. She has an interesting history that I won’t specify because I thought learning about her was a part of the journey that is this book. She has a really interesting ability that is to be able to see the history of any object. I thought this was really cool, but also, I’m still curious about whether or not she can do the same with living things. Laila’s goal is to find a book that helped create her. I’m very intrigued by this book and I think it has something to do with the events of the next book.
Enrique is biracial (Filipino and Spanish). He’s a historian that loves to learn about the past. I thought his internal struggle with appearing more Spanish than Filipino was really interesting. I really thought he brought an interesting point of view to the story. He’s also bisexual, though the word is never used he says that he’s interested in both men and women. I really liked Enrique. He was the comedic relief of this friend group and I’m always a sucker for the funny guy. I also totally ship him with Zofia.
Zofia was a little science nerd and I love her. She’s Jewish which I thought was nice because I don’t see all that much representation for Jewish people out there. She’s also Polish and moved away from her sister to go to school. I believe that Zofia is somewhere on the Autism spectrum but I don’t know whether that’s been confirmed anywhere. She has issues with certain social cues, clothing materials, and I loved her so much. She’s incredibly smart and is the mad scientist and mathematician of the bunch. She loves to create but was not treated well when she tried to go to traditional schools.
Then there’s Hypnos, who isn’t a part of this found family at the beginning of the story. He manages to worm his way in though. I didn’t know whether or not we could trust him, but I grew to love him. He’s the patriarch of one of the last two recognized Houses. He hires the group to steal something from the other House. Obviously shit hits the fan and nothing goes as planned. I liked Hypnos. He was flirty and fun, but never quite trustworthy for most of the story. I’m definitely interested to see where his story goes in the next book.
Overall, I adored this book. I love Roshani’s writing. It’s just absolutely beautiful. She built a fascinating world with characters I would die for. Please read this book right now.
“Nothing but a symbol? People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They’re not just lines. They’re histories, cultures, traditions, given shape.”
“Make yourself a myth and live within it, so that you belong to no one but yourself.”
“Her mother’s voice rang in her ears: ‘Don’t capture their hearts. Steal their imagination. It’s far more useful.”
“I don’t want to be their equal. I don’t want them to look us in the eye. I want them to look away, to blink harshly, as if they’d stared at the sun itself. I don’t want them standing across from us. I want them kneeling.”
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.