It’s 1889 in an alternate Paris, where those who have the ability to “forge” can manipulate matter or minds just like magic–except it’s really about science and art–with infinite possibilities. It’s almost like Alice in Wonderland–especially when you can pass through a mirror to another place. The secret society of the Order of Babel regulates forging, controlled by the high Houses. Plants can be forged for beauty and function, statues can be forged for security, clothes can be forged to give you as many tricks up your sleeve as you can imagine.
This lush backdrop is where Séverin lost his inheritance. Spurned by the Order, he teams up with Enrique, the historian looking for a voice and power with his own community; Laila, the dancer with a life altering secret; Zofia, the engineer who is excellent at math yet awful with anything social; Tristan, a brother to him; and finally Hypnos, the entitled yet clever patriarch of one of the Houses. I have to say, Hypnos was my favorite! He was funny without being too over the top. Enrique was also funny, especially when paired with Séverin:
“You’re doing it again,” said Enrique.
“That whole nefarious-whilst-looking-into-the-distance-thing. What are you hiding, Séverin?”
“You and your secrets.”
“Secrets keep my hair lustrous,” said Séverin, running his hand through his curls. “Shall we?”
This big cast of characters wend their way through a fantastical mystery at the heart of the Order of Babel. I did wonder sometimes whether the big cast was a bit too much–their voices sometimes blended together, when you jumped from one to another in the chapters. Sometimes their personalities were a bit too similar, except Zofia who was quite unique. They each do have clear motives, but it was really their voices (internal & external) that were a little too similar.
A simple heist leads them deeper into the mysteries of the Order than any of them ever dreamed. They must use their wits and their tricks to not only prevent total chaos–but to survive.
All in all, I really enjoyed the fantastic magic, the storytelling, and the suspense. Oh, and there was just enough romance–I’m not a big fan of over the top romance (unless I’m reading Outlander, of course), and Chokshi did a great job with some light romantic touches: it all felt very real and unforced.
I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the rest of this series!
The book is available for pre-order, and releases January 15, 2019.
I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.