My rating in stars: 5 stars
My rating in words: New all-time favorite!
What it’s about:
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.
“Crows remember human faces. They remember the people who feed them, who are kind to them. And the people who wrong them too. They don’t forget. They tell each other who to look after and who to watch out for.”
Six of Crows was one of my favorite books of 2015. Naturally, Crooked Kingdom was one of my most anticipated new releases of 20160. And IT. DID. NOT. DISAPPOINT!
Crooked Kingdom was amazing. This duology is going down as one of my all-time favorites. I already absolutely loved the Grisha trilogy, but this duology is even a little better in my view. I loved every minute of this book. So please allow me to tell you why!
The characters are pure awesomeness. These 6 characters are the love of my life. Each and every one of them is so real and layered and complex and I love them all so much separately. I can’t even choose a favorite because every chapter I’ll be thinking: ‘This is my favorite!’, only to change my mind by the next chapter. They are all so intriguing and lovable.
(Art by Kevin Wada)
I love haunted, brutal and cocky Kaz. I love faithful, loyal and strong Inej. I love brave, flirty, food-loving Nina. I love strong-willed soldier Matthias. I love reckless, gambling, funny Jesper. I love the always-blushing, determined Wylan.
“Wylan summoned every bit of brvado he’d learned from Nina, the will he’d learned from Matthias, the focus he’d studied in Kaz, the courage he’d learned from Inej, and the wild, reckless hope he’d learned from Jesper, the belief that no matter the odds, somehow they would win”
But put them together and the chemistry is just so undeniably good! Even in a super action-packed, suspenseful novel as Crooked Kingdom, some of my favorite scenes where just the scenes where some or all of these characters were interacting. I could read a whole book with the 6 of them just hanging out and talking all day long.
The plot is fast-paced, complex and action-filled. I didn’t do a re-read of Six of Crows before starting this one so I was a little worried I would not be as invested as I could have been, but I should not have worried. I was hooked again from page one. It’s a whirlwind ride from the beginning until the end and it’s one of those books you wish you could read in one sitting because the action and suspense are non-stop. While Six of Crows was more focused on one heist, Crooked Kingdom is more political, but that does not take away from the excitement for one bit. The amount of planning and scheming is just amazing. I had to re-read several scenes a few times because it was confusing my brain sometimes, but Kaz Brekker (or really, Leigh Bardugo) is just such a genius that it was so much fun seeing his plans (and plan A, B and C) unfold.
“Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”
The world is still every bit as wonderful. Even though we stay in Ketterdam this book, there is still so much to discover. It may be one city, but it’s one city with so many different districts and people and shady corners that there is never a dull moment. And while we stay in one place, we still meet so many people from the different countries, all with their own agenda, that that one place feels both huge and small at the same time. Also on that note, we meet some characters from the Grisha trilogy which made me so happy that even Nina getting waffles couldn’t reach my level of happiness! So while I would have said before reading this that there is no need to read the Grisha trilogy before reading the Six of Crows duology, I am taking that back now. I definitely recommend reading the Grisha trilogy first, because otherwise you will get spoiled for that one in Crooked Kingdom and also you will not appreciate some cameos as much.
Other things I loved about this book? The realistic depiction of trauma, mental illness and addiction. These characters have gone through hell and there is no easy fix for any of that. They just deal as well as they can. The flashbacks. While Six of Crows seemed to focus some more on Kaz, Inej, Nina and Matthias, Crooked Kingdom focuses some more on Jesper and Wylan and I loved every minute of it. Also, Wylan gets his own POV and he is just the most adorable little demolitions expert… Another thing I loved? The amazing diversity, both in this squad and in this world. This is how every book should be. Also (because I’m hopeless like that), the romance. Ah, it’s not the main focus, but what we get is so good, so real, so heartbreaking and so funny. The piano scene and the bathroom scene come to mind as some of those scenes I will be re-reading for weeks and months on end.
“I am grateful you’re alive”, he said. “I am grateful that you’re beside me. I am grateful that you’re eating.”
She rested her head on his shoulder.
“You’re better than waffles, Matthias Helvar.”
A small smile curled the Fjerdan’s lips.
“Let’s not say things we don’t mean, my love.”
I can not recommend this book enough. I love these characters so much and I can only be grateful that Leigh Bardugo introduced them to us and wrote their story. Seriously, if you have not yet done so, please give this duology a chance! Just don’t forget to read the Grisha trilogy first!
“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”
“Until this moment, Wylan hadn’t quite understood how much they meant to him. His father would have sneered at these thugs and thieves, a disgraced soldier, a gambler who couldn’t keep out of the red. But they were his first friends, his only friends, and Wylan knew that even if he’d had his pick of a thousand companions, these would have been the people he chose.”
“Maybe there were people who lived those lives. Maybe this girl was one of them. But what about the rest of us?
What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary.
That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.
“Jesper ran a finger up Wylan’s forearm, and Wylan flushed a vibrant pink. Matthias couldn’t help but sympathize with the boy. He knew what it was to be out of your depth, and he sometimes suspected they could forgo all of Kaz’s planning and simply let Jesper and Nina flirt the entirety of Ketterdam into submission.”
“Kaz had tapped his crow’s head cane on the flagstones of the tomb floor. “Do you know what Van Eck’s problem is?“
“No honor?” said Matthias.
“Rotten parenting skills?” said Nina.
Receding hairline?“ offered Jesper.”