I received this book as part of the Enchanted Book Crate’s January box, and to be honest I was not very excited when I read the blurb. It seemed like a treasure-hunting story within a modern-ish setting which just didn’t appeal to me. However, I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised in terms of the idea and how much potential it had. The actual execution fell short for me.
Ten years ago, the Order of Babel—the powerful secret society of Paris—denied Séverin Montagnet-Alarie’s claim as heir of House Vanth and declared their line legally dead. When Hypnos—young heir of House Nyx—offers Séverin the chance to restore his lost inheritance in exchange for turning his “acquisitions” skills to a mythical and possibly dangerous object belonging to the Order, Séverin takes it. His future now seems to have thinned to a point of destiny, and it had a name: revenge. But one can only get so far on thoughts of vengeance alone…
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.
This story had SO MUCH potential to be greater than even that of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. There were a lot of moments in this book where I thought to myself, “This is amazing!” I almost believed everything about this book to be amazing, but then I started analyzing it. And it turns out, this book has a lot more cons than pros.
Let’s start with what I liked about this novel. For one, there’s the diversity of the cast. All the main characters are from varying backgrounds, and each character has an amazing premise that relates to their culture’s struggles. Then, there’s the little references to different fields of study. Zofia constantly references math such as with the Fibonacci sequence as well as nature’s natural geometric shape, Enrique goes over the history of historical figures such as Napoleon, and there’s mythological references as well such as with the Eye of Horus. All of these little bits come together to form a fascinating story. The writing was also fabulous here. It was lyrical but never really confusing, which I really appreciate in a story as dense as this one.
However, that is not enough to cover the butt of this story. There are a lot of flaws in this book. For one, the characters felt flat. Their diversity was interesting, but it felt like just a bunch of tropes mashing together. The problems they encounter are never explored in details so it looks like they’re reaching Point C from Point A.
Another problem I have with this book is that there’s just too much it’s trying to accomplish. At times, even though the prose was beautiful, I had no idea what anyone was saying or what was going on. I had to reread several times just to understand what exactly Forging is. There’s too much thrown at the readers at once, and it doesn’t do the story justice.
Overall, I really believe this book could have accomplished a lot, but couldn’t because it was trying too hard.