Reviews

Arc Review: The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi 🐍 A heavy sequel full of grief and thorned love

Arc Review_ The Silvered Serpents

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CW’s: Violence, Loss of a Loved One, Mentions of death, stillbirth, suicide, gore & past abuse, Sexual Harrasment (character posing as someone else to trick another into having sex with them)

Representation 🌷 Indian MC, Black Queer MC, Biracial (Filipino & Spanish) Queer MC, Jewish MC who has Anxiety (and possibly on the autism spectrum), Biracial (Algerian & French) MC

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

SΓ©verin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost β€” one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, SΓ©verin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

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Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review! All quotes are taken from the Arc and therefore subject to changes.

This sequel is a lot darker and gives off different vibes than the first one. It deals with heavy grief – not always expressed in a healthy way, which is kind of the point for some characters – after losing a beloved friend and the impact it can have on a friend group. This book is sad and heartbreaking and at times really emotionally upsetting. It was hard to divorce myself from my personal feelings (being really upset and hurt for and with the characters) to look further into the craft used by the author and appreciate how she handled so many tough topics. This is a well-written book that however at times was hard for me to read. So, I feel like you have to be in the right headspace to read this if you’re a very emotional reader like I am because the characters get dragged through the wringer. I also need the sequel like right now, please!!! (Also this turned out to be long because I have many Thoughts πŸ˜‚)

“She liked that Enrique could say that he was scared and still be brave. It made her want to be brave too.”

Every character is dealing with grief and change in a different way and has a truly profound and well-written character arc! Let’s quickly dive into each of the main characters and their emotional journey! πŸ’•

➽ Zofia is worried about her sick sister and scared of being a burden to others. She askes herself the question: who will care and worry for me? How can I depend on only myself without needing to ask others for help? Zofia also deals with her neurodivergence (she’s on the autism spectrum and has got anxiety as well) in a world that doesn’t understand her. I also appreciated the continued discussion of her dealing with antisemitism. As my favorite character I was really invested in her struggles and I still love her very, very much!! Her slowly coming to see herself as brave and good just the way she is, was so good to see as she has so much doubt about herself and how she can exist in this world. Seeing the world differently from everyone else is hard and Zofia is truly brave for still trying to navigate it.

➽ Enrique is feeling like no one hears his voice, not the Illustradoes, and most heartbreakingly sometimes even his friends. His arc I deeply related to, because I know how much it hurts to feel invisible and overlooked like no one cares what you have to say. Oftentimes it doesn’t even happen with malicious intent, but it stings all the same, especially when you’re talking about something you’re passionate about. The only person who seems to see him is Zofia, something that means a lot to him. I honestly just wanted to give him a hug as Enrique is such a smart and kind boy, but has felt shoved to the side many times in the past when he deserved someone who listened to him all the time.

➽ Hypnos is still trying desperately to belong to the group, something else I related to. He’s felt like an outsider for the majority of his life and is now trying his best to secure his new friend group. That’s why continued rejection hurts him deep down, even though he tries to cover it up with humor and charisma most of the time. I had hoped for a POV of his (after the last book ended with a POV by him in the epilogue), but we sadly didn’t get one. Still, the author manages to explore his struggles to belong through the eyes of the other characters and it broke my heart when Hypnos felt shoved aside.

➽ Laila is coming to terms with her own morality as times runs out before her birthday. She doesn’t want the others to see her as less human and keep away from her. Apart from that, she’s also hit hard by Tristan’s loss and barely does things she enjoys (like baking) anymore. Worst of all she feels like she’s in love with a ghost, as Severin has completely changed and she tries to fight the hope that his old self might come back. I liked that despite her dilemma, she wasn’t ready to die just to save Severin and not to be used as an object to further his character development. She called him out for his behavior and though she couldn’t help but still love him deep down, she was determined to die on her terms and not his.

➽ Severin was the hardest character to like in this book. He was a bit TOO unlikable for me personally and the aspect of the book I liked the least. The problem is that he was my least favorite character out of the cast in The Gilded Wolves and his only redeeming feature was how he wanted to protect his friends. The latter was largely absent here (or at least not shown in a way that felt genuine to me) which left me with nothing to like. It wasn’t so bad in his POV as here we at least saw his struggles, his attempts to divorce himself from his feelings and humanity to never make an error again, like what cost him Tristan’s life. I understand that he wanted to become a God to be invincible and without the feeling of guilt and hurt and also to never be powerless to stop something ever again It was just frustrating to see him constantly isolated from his friends, manipulate them to get them to come on the mission and being unnecessarily cruel to them. Especially from the other’s POV, it was so upsetting to see as they had no idea why he was suddenly against them too. Yes they know he’s grieving but it still hurts how he disregards him. [Spoilers: highlight to see] The ending had a glimmer of hope, but he still seems set on continuing down this path EVEN WHEN he got the scare of thinking all his friends were about to die. His demand that they ‘hold on a bit longer and believe in him, see past his cruelty’ was incredibly selfish to me, as his friends don’t owe him to keep looking for his ‘true intentions’ when he as constantly mistreated them the entire book. You cannot expect others to still keep trusting you if you continue to hurt them on purpose. His Arc was well-written but how he treated his friends enraged me. His grief isn’t pretty and that should be allowed to be shown as well, but that doesn’t mean I have to like him or his actions. [Spoilers: highlight to see] But the twist that he was of the Lost Muses Bloodlines was GOOD as I thought they would set him up as a Fallen House Heir.

“Ruslan had exclaimed over her blond hair then patted the top of her head like a dog or a child – which one might consider rude – but then he had offered his own head, so perhaps this was his normal interaction. Not wanting to be rude, Zofia had patted it.”

There are also a lot of interesting secondary characters that we got to see more of in this book! Some of them were new, but we also had a character from the first book who really surprised me by becoming much more intriguing to me this time around.

A character we know from the first book is Delphine. She’s the Matriarch of House Kore and initially, I felt pretty indifferent to her, she is an important character but didn’t stick with me. However, in The Silvered Serpents, I loved her a lot more, especially her complicated relationship with Severin and her maternal instincts towards him and also Laila. We finally get a glimpse into her own struggles and attempts to repair what happened with Severin. I was very sad that she died in the end, as I would have loved to see more of her!

I really loved Ruslan, the Patriarch of House Dazbog. He’s joining the treasure hunt as the crew is in his region and he was funny with his hair jokes. He seemed so good-natured and often lightened the mood when things were looking glum, something I really appreciated. [Spoilers: highlight to see] I was a bit suspicious of him as characters who are TOO nice often turn evil later and I was right. Turns out HE is the doctor/patriarch of the Fallen House and was only posing as someone else. This is the affably evil and well-written villain that was missing from the first book and I’m happy we have a more interesting villain, especially one that can switch between being nice and also cruel.

Eva was a tough character as she was just there to cause drama and perpetuate girl hate by despising Laila for no reason (yes she was jealous but it wasn’t explored enough.) Her character could have been so interesting [Spoilers: highlight to see] (with her limp, how she saved Zofia and Enrique, her powers, and how she is the daughter of Dazbog with the suicidal ballerina, how he destroyed her dream and the Fallen House recruited her) and I’m sad it was never explored. Instead, she constantly insults Laila and tries to flirt with Severin. Laila acknowledges that she knows how the world pits girls against each other and later tries to at least find mutual respect, but it goes nowhere. [Spoilers: highlight to see] The last straw was Eva shifting into Laila and using her blood forging abilities to sleep with Severin – I’ve seen this trope twice recently in Fantasy and it makes my blood boil. Tricking/Coercing someone = no consent = sexual assault. Eva admits she was waiting for Laila to show up, but she also would have kept going if this wasn’t the case.

“And what if it doesn’t change him?”, she said, her voice rising. “And even if it does, what does it mean that I have to be at death’s door to bring him back to himself? My life and whatever is left of it, will not be what his soul gnaws on to regain its strength. My death is not in service to his character, and I will not be a sacrifice simply for him to find peace of mind. He is not my responsibility to save.”

The continued worldbuilding and new setting were really great! This time we’re in Russia and are seeing House Dazbog, as the country only has one House affiliated with the Order. The change of scenery fits in very well with the emotional journeys of the characters, as they literally leave behind their old life in Paris as well as their dead friend Tristan, who however still continues to haunt them. Away from their old life – which was already changed – they find themselves in cold Russia and the snow and general atmosphere once again fit in with the more hopeless and dark mood of the book. It was all woven together and of course, Roshani Chokshi’s writing continues to be breathtaking and so vivid. The main setting is The Sleeping Palace, the legendary headquarters of the Fallen House which brings us back to the discussion of godhood, the Babel Fragments, and the Divine Lyrics, a book said to be able to unlock the secrets of the Order. We learn more about the world like the Lost Muses, the other houses, and especially Blood/Ice Forgery. I wish we had learned even more about Forging though.

“What he had done had not looked like love. But then again, love did not always wear a face of beauty.”

The Plot was more fast-paced than the previous book. It was an interesting plotline without feeling like a ‘filler second book’ and even though things got darker there were still the exploring and treasure hunting vibes from the first book. I loved the treasure hunt for the Divine Lyrics and seeing the characters slowly trying to uncover the secrets of the Sleeping Palace, so I enjoyed my time reading the book! Though the book felt very melancholic, I liked that Hypnos, Zofia, and Enrique’s banter often lightened the mood (as well as Ruslan’s hair jokes) and provided some much-needed light in the glum atmosphere. So even though my heart hurt a lot during this book, the authors tried to balance the tough topics with some humor and banter. The story also explores a lot of important themes like how people deal with grief, how love often looks less like beauty and like horror, lies or coldness, mortality, and colonization.

“Pet?” repeated Hypnos. “Did she say pet?” “A pet is a dog or a cat-“, started Enrique, appalled. “Or a tarantula”, said Zofia. “I beg your pardon -” “There’s no need to beg”, said Zofia. Enrique scowled. “I can’t imagine someone naming that thing and looking upon it fondly”, said Laila. Zofia seemed to consider this. “… I would name it David.”

Once again there are a lot of character dynamics that continued to get explored. Romance-wise Hypnos, Enrique, and Zofia are my favorite dynamic and I liked seeing how that played out, as it could have gone either way. [Spoilers: highlight to see] In the end, Hypnos and Enrique seem to not be compatible, their love is casual but not deep enough. I don’t blame Hypnos, but Enrique is right when he says that they would be happier with someone who is easier to love. They still care for each other but their expectations and feelings differ from each other. Enrique and Zofia seem to be the endgame – as she understands and hears him and he does his best to understand her – but we’ll see. Severin and Laila are obviously tenser (see above when I talked about their character arcs), especially as there is love, but also so much hurt and grief. They were never my preferred couple, so I’m not too hurt, but it was still sad to see how far they drifted from each other. In my opinion, they’re not the healthiest people for each other right now. Friendship-wise I loved the dynamics of Enrique, Zofia & Laila still sticking together even in the face of everything that happened. They all seem to be losing Severin to some darker version of himself, but they still try to be there for each other. Zofia & Laila are checking in with each other (with Zofia determined to do anything to save her friends), Hypnos and Laila’s banter and friendship were also so refreshing and in general, they are trying their best to still be a team even when everything is different πŸ’•

“Goliath reminded her of different times. Happier times. And even if they no longer existed, she liked the reminders that they had ever been there in the first place.”

IN CONCLUSION. ➽ The Silvered Serpents is a much darker sequel than I expected and there are a lot of upsetting things happening. However, the author is a master at weaving together the grief, hurt, and all the ugly feelings of the book together with the new setting and melancholic atmosphere. There are a lot of difficult topics discussed and even though it hurt me to see the characters in distress, I still appreciated the occasional banter and suspenseful treasure hunting.

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Have you read The Gilded Wolves? Are you going to read The Silvered Serpents? What is your favorite book about grief? 🐍

4 thoughts on “Arc Review: The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi 🐍 A heavy sequel full of grief and thorned love

  1. Love this review, Caro!! I really need to read this series, I heard so many negative things about book one when it came out and I’m not the biggest sci-fi reader but eh I ain’t going to trust those reviews because it sounds amazing hehe.

    Liked by 1 person

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