Author: Leigh Bardugo | Publisher: Orion
Welcome to the world of the Grisha.
Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts 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 badly weakened, 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 the Grisha world.
So I finally, finally, got around to finishing the Six of Crows duology! After months of seeing posts where everyone raved about it, I finally manned up and decided to see for myself whether Crooked Kingdom lived up to the hype.
Since it’s been quite a while since I read Six of Crows, I had a hard time following Crooked Kingdom at first. I confess, I had to go and Google who was who… I mean, I remembered Kaz, Inej, and Nina, but I was a bit confused about the rest. This is not a standalone, by any means. If you’ve got the memory of a goldfish, like me, do yourself a favour and read Six of Crows again before you pick up Crooked Kingdom. I got caught up, but it took me a hot minute!
Crooked Kingdom follows the same pattern of shifting perspectives between the main characters. It has an interview-style effect, piecing the story together. Any other book, any other author, I would be dubious – but Leigh Bardugo is a master. Instead of losing focus, the changing perspectives drive the story forward, creating just the right amount of tension. Each character is as engaging as the last, and their stories are all intimately, intricately interwoven. Crooked Kingdom is also a fine example of how useful the unreliable narrator technique can be. When Wylan says, “But of course, nothing was sacred to Kaz Brekker”, the audience knows better. We’re forced to think ahead, question what we know, to try and keep up with the wicked mind of Kaz Brekker – right alongside the characters.
I did find Crooked Kingdom slow going. And not because of any fault in the writing – it was just hella intense! I felt like I needed a break every now and then to recover! I devoured Six of Crows in one sitting – with Crooked Kingdom, I took my time.
The characters in this series (can I call it a series if it’s two books?) are wonderful. Finely drawn, multidimensional with their flaws, and utterly unique. They’re a completely diverse cast, but in a way that feels very natural and unforced. A true band of misfits, who, over time, despite being the obvious criminal element, come to feel like the only normal ones in a very messed up world. That being said, as much as I appreciated their roundedness – there was a lot of backstory. Arguably too much… I wanted to know more about the characters, but I would have liked it to be more subtly inserted, drawn out over a longer period through the action. But I did think it was a clever, and effective, technique to use flashbacks and backstory for pacing and to further invest the reader in the outcome. The addition of heavy backstory had the effect of raising the stakes for the reader.
And the relationships…! Nina and Matthias, Kaz and Inej, Jesper and Wylan… Without giving anything away, I can safely say I loved the way the relationships were developed in Crooked Kingdom. And I loved the way Leigh Bardugo tied off her loose ends. All. The. Feels. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I was completely satisfied. It was better than anything I could have imagined.
Crooked Kingdom was fast-paced, tense, and twisted. It lived up to every expectation, and, while I think I preferred the neatness of the heist in Six of Crows, it was, in every way, a fitting ending to the duology. No question, Leigh Bardugo just made it into my top ten list of favourite authors!
Tell me how much you loved this series! I’m slighly in love with Kaz Brekker… Kaz and Inej – all the feels! But which was the stand out romance for you?