Genres: fantasy; YA
Why I read it: I have a bit of an obsession with Leigh Bardugo’s writing. I think she writes awesome characters, her world-building is fantastic, and she knows how to keep you guessing about what’s going to happen.
Who I’d recommend it them to: If you liked the Grisha trilogy, you’ll probably like this, maybe even more. I think fans of V.E. Schwab might enjoy these, and anyone who likes well-written fantasy and a fast paced plot.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (each)
What Six of Crows is about:
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)
Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)
Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.
I’m not giving a description for Crooked Kingdom because ~spoilers,~ but there are no significant time lapses or anything. I think the second book picks up a couple of days after the end of the first. (I don’t know why I decided to review these together, but if I searched my soul, the answer would probably be: because I’m lazy.)
I have never been a big fan of multi-POV stories, but Leigh Bardugo does it so well. The books are both told from the alternating perspectives of each of the six members of this strange group. Each character was so freaking different! I loved that. I loved that I could keep track of who we were focusing on just by the way the language and stuff shifted. Their interactions were so believable, too. There were arguments and clashes of will, sweet moments between friends, struggles with inner demons and taking it on those around them, and there really wasn’t much of the blind loyalty I’ve seen in other books. The others followed Kaz because they knew what he was capable of, and he’d earned their trust to get them through things.
Most people seem to agree that you can read this without reading the Grisha trilogy first, but I think it would be really helpful if you did. I mostly knew what everything meant, and had a vague idea of the layout of this world, but even though I just finished the Grisha trilogy last year, the details were fuzzy and slow to come back. I think you absolutely could read this duology first, but I’d recommend reading the Grisha books to get acquainted with the Grisha orders and stuff. (And there’s kind of a Grisha spoiler in Crooked Kingdom.)
While it took me almost two weeks to read these, it wasn’t the fault of the books. I started Six of Crows and then got caught up in other things for almost a week, so I ended up reading most of both books in about a week. When I sat down and finally had the time to read, I felt like my eyes wouldn’t move fast enough and I had to tear myself away to eat and sleep. I was flying through them, desperate to know what was going to happen next, how they’d get themselves out of trouble, worrying someone was dead, and by the end, I had several new fictional children. I don’t think I could choose a favorite character, though.
Crooked Kingdom picked up pretty much right where we left off, and never really slowed down. It was just off, full-speed ahead, from the very beginning. I had no clue what to expect–from either of these–while I was reading them. I saw a few twists coming, but mostly I was clueless and I loved it (and hated it). These were the kinds of books that made me completely forget I was reading, because they were so immersive. I was sucked in, and it was weird looking around and not being in their world.
The crew got into some serious trouble in Six of Crows, but it was nothing compared to Crooked Kingdom. The group is like a magnet for trouble, and it was coming from all sides, and I don’t think my pulse ever calmed down while I was reading.
Both books have intricately woven plots that always have several smaller plots going on, and I don’t think I ever realized a subplot was unfolding until I was deep into it or at the end. I just didn’t see it coming. This is quite possibly the best sequel I’ve ever read. If it isn’t, it’s definitely in the top three. I didn’t think Leigh Bardugo could top Six of Crows because it was that good, but she did, and my mind was blown.
Throughout both books, I was gasping, squealing, and sometimes trying not to scream, but I actually teared up at least once during Crooked Kingdom. In my head, I’m still screaming, and it’s taking a lot of effort to keep from screaming and fangirling about them to anyone who will listen.
I’ll wrap up by saying that I. LOVED. These. Books! And I desperately want novellas, or another series with some of these characters making an appearance.
Have you read this duology, or the Grisha trilogy? What did you think of them?