The Silvered Serpents: The Gilded Wolves, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Silvered Serpents: The Gilded Wolves, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Another dangerous treasure hunt in thrilling sequel.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Repeated references to Tower of Babel tale from Genesis and to Greek myth and of the nine muses from Greek myth. Travel from Paris to St. Petersburg and Lake Baikal in Russia. References to the persecution of Jews in Russia.  

Positive Messages

Zofia recalls something her father told her: When a man cannot see a person as a person, then the devil has slipped into him and is peering out of his eyes. The desire to possess power over all corrupts even those who begin with good intentions. Loyalty to friends and finding a sense of belonging, among friends and culturally.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Severin, in his grief over his brother's death, decides to shut himself off emotionally from his friends so he can't get hurt. He's obsessed with being so powerful that he never suffers a loss again. Readers will see what a struggle it is for his friends to trust him and it creates a lot of conflict. He begins to come around near the end of Book 2. Three characters have parents from the colonies (as they were known in the 1880s) and deal with discrimination. One female character, Zofia, is on the autism spectrum. She struggles with not wanting to be a burden on others, but is a valued by her friends. There are also two LGBTQ characters.

Violence

An ear cut off, a drowning death. A man walks around with a severed hand. Lots of talk about girls as sacrifices: kidnapped, their hands removed, their faces carved up, and then entombed alive. Many people are knocked out and drugged. Talk of death by suicide. Statues, ice-forged animals, and a giant robot snake attack.

Sex

Straight couple has sex, not described. LGBTQ couple kisses. People use a special kind of blood magic for pleasure and to take away inhibitions. Talk of two characters having many lovers.

Language

One use of "f---ing," one of b---h," and a few lesser words.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Most main characters are in late teens (in the 1880s) and go to parties where much alcohol is served, including champagne and wine. They drink vodka shots together. One character who is known for overindulging gets drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Silvered Serpents is the second in a fantasy series for teens by Roshani Chokshi (Aru Shah and the End of Time). It takes place in 1889 in France and Russia, but it's set in a world of magic. Three of the main characters are diverse culturally, one character is on the autism spectrum, and two are LGBTQ. They are all gifted in different ways and bring their talents into play as they hunt for treasure. They also swear rarely ("f--king" is uttered once), drink to excess (one character in particular), kiss, and have sex (no details described). Things get pretty dangerous while treasure hunting. An ear is chopped off, one character drowns, many others are knocked out and drugged, and some are chased by magically forged and dangerous sculptures. There's much talk about the kidnapping and torture of girls who are all found magically preserved with missing hands and carved faces. Readers can ponder Severin's many wrong turns here as he tries to protect himself from more grief by shutting himself off from his friends.

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What's the story?

In THE SILVERED SERPENTS: THE GILDED WOLVES, BOOK 2, Severin and his friends are hired to find the many treasures of the Fallen House. It's said to be on a hidden estate called the Sleeping Palace, which no one has seen in 50 years. Severin gets a lead on how to find it -- by stealing a special pair of spectacles -- and gathers Laila, Enrique, Hypnos, and Zofia to help him. Things go wrong right away when one part of the glasses is locked in a frozen room and the other hangs on a chain around a man's neck who's in league with dangerous blood forgers. Severin is determined, though, to find the Sleeping Palace. It's not for the immense wealth that it could bring him. The treasure may contain something called The Divine Lyrics. It's fabled that this book can rebuild the Tower of Babel and give anyone who wields it the power of a god.

Is it any good?

Even with a less likeable main character and a darker premise, this magic treasure hunting sequel still excites. Severin, the head of his crew of treasure hunters, continues to be clever, but is so obsessed with a particular artifact -- The Divine Lyrics -- and the power that it can bring him, that he neglects the people he wants to protect and is even cruel to them. It weighs on everyone he works with, and potentially the reader as well. Still, with an ice palace teaming with secret rooms and the gruesome clues of handless "statues" everywhere (awfully lifelike statues), there's much to draw you in even if you're not rooting for Severin.

Another draw of The Silvered Serpents is the shifting perspectives every chapter. Zofia, Laila, Hypnos, and Enrique each get a turn as narrator. Laila's worries are the greatest. She thinks her forged body will fail on her birthday in a few weeks' time and she will die. She's also the only one who knows the exact tragic history of those "statues." Hypnos' and Enrique's worries are ones most can relate to: they're both outsiders who just wants to belong. Zofia, an autistic character, worries that she is a burden to others even though the reader can see how valuable she is to the team. They are all vital to the story and the mission, and Severin's obsessive drive to protect his friends culminates in a seriously intense cliffhanger. Get ready for a thrilling Book 3.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Severin's choices in The Silvered Serpents. Why is he holding back from confiding in his friends? What does it cost them all?

  • Laila's sadness over the dead girls is deeper than the others' because of her gift of reading emotions in objects. Does seeing these girls through Laila's gift make the violence they suffered harder to read about? Would you like to have Laila's gift?

  • What do you think is next for Severin and friends after such a cliffhanger ending? Will you read the next in the series?

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