One Of The Finest YA Fantasy Series Out There: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Posted April 3, 2017 by Nick/ 20 Comments

One Of The Finest YA Fantasy Series Out There: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)
by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #2
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Published by Henry Holt and Company
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Format: eBook
Pages: 546
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four-stars
Source: Purchased

When you can't beat the odds, change the game.

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 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 streetsโ€•a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

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Even though I loved Six of Crows, I was a little nervous about reading Crooked Kingdom. I bought my copy on release day, but didn’t read the book until last week, mostly because I had spoiled myself and I wasn’t sure my heart could take it. Leigh Bardugo is one of the finest YA fantasy authors out there.ย Actually, she’s at the top of my favorites list along with Rae Carson. Crooked Kingdom was without any doubt a cleverly crafted story, but that one spoiler did take away from my enjoyment of the story a bit.

For me, what makes this duology exceptional are the characters. These are not the typical kind of characters you would expect to find in a YA book. They are mature beyond words, yes, but they also straddle that line between good and evil. Despite that, Bardugo makes you sympathize with them and even root for their success, regardless of how nefarious they are. I think that’s a writing skill that not many authors possess. Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Wylan and Jesper were slightly transformed in this installment, thanks to the life-threatening circumstances they got into in the previous book, but they also maintained all those characteristics that made them so unique. I loved reading all of their POVs, but I have to say, I grew a soft spot for Wylan. That was surprising to me because I didn’t love him as much as the others in Six of Crows. But here, he was much more prominent and easily swayed me to his side with the strength he showed. My heart seriously ached for all that he had had to go through, but he has turned into an incredible boy among the Crows and I was seriously super proud of him. We also get cameos from characters from The Grisha Trilogy and you can bet your ass that I flailed at one particular rascal’s appearance.

Plot-wise, Crooked Kingdom was a master piece. Everything from the pacing, to the world building was so masterfully written. Half the time, I was in awe because Leigh Bardugo was able to transport me into her setting with a mere sentence. The plot picks up immediately after Six of Crows‘ ending, and it’s full of twists and surprises along the way. But perhaps the best part of this duology are the intricate relationships between the characters. I particularly adored Nina and Inej’s sisterly bond, and of course I was a sucker for all of the romances. Speaking of the romances, I thought they were a bit too subtle for my liking, especially Kaz and Inej’s. I understood why it was written the way it was because these are two characters who were broken, but I would have loved to see more progress by the end. To me, it felt a bit open-ended. I did really enjoy the banter between Wylan and Jesper, and how much better they made each other. Nina and Matthias were my favorite couple in Six of Crows, but I thought they lost a bit of their spark here, though I’ll admit they were adorable together.

Some spoilery thoughts :ย View Spoiler »

Despite my disappointment at the spoiler, I’m glad that I finally read Crooked Kingdom, because truly, it is exceptional in many ways. And I will forever be a fan of Leigh Bardugo. If you’re one of the rare YA readers who has yet to pick up this series, I definitely recommend it. It’s unique, thrilling and a complete blast to read!

Have you read the Six of Crows duology? Who are some of your favorite YA fantasy authors?
Let me know in the comments below!

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  • This duology is on my must read (well listen) list for this year. Not my typical read but I am super intrigued. Glad you enjoyed this one!! Great review!!

  • kindlemom1

    I still haven’t finished her first series and I have no idea why, I loved the first book. I seriously need to push this author up my pile.

  • Glad you enjoyed it! I totally didn’t see the romance in the spoiler coming… I need to re-read those moments to find the hints! I always loved Wylan so seeing him become more prominent and his progress really made me proud. I desired more progress to for Kaz/Inej, but I also loved the open-ended-ness of it you know? Like they have a lot of issues, and it may seem subtle to us, but for those characters, it’s a lot (they are touching without someone passing out and finally open up with each other!). I totally can’t wait for Leigh’s other book!

  • Jasprit

    Nick I felt exactly the same way about this book that you did, I really fell for these characters over these two books, who would have imagined that I would have got so attached? Like you I also wanted more from Kaz and Inej, there was so much build up, that I was sort of left disappointed. And I was also left reeling with certain turn of events too. I actually ended up enjoying this duology a lot more than Bardugo’s Grisha series, so definitely wouldn’t mind a return to these characters sometime in the future. A great review once again Nick! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I didn’t peek at your spoiler. I enjoyed the first book on audio and plan to listen to this soon. I love the characters.

  • Katie

    I didn’t like that spoiler either, even though Matthias wasn’t my favorite character. I don’t think this was my favorite YA series but it’s definitely a good one, the plot is so clever!

    Beauty From Katie

  • I am for sure, without a doubt, absolutely read these this year. At least the first book.

  • Bookworm Brandee

    I’ve had Six of Crows on my shelf since it released and I have her Grisha series on my shelf but I’ve yet to read Bardugo. *hangs head* Why, Nick, why? I think you have me most intrigued with your description of the characters…straddling the line of good and evil but you still want to root for them?!? Alright, alright…I’ll make it a goal to read her books this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I loved Six of Crows!! But haven’t read Crooked Kingdom D: I seriously need to. I love love love the characters and I need Kaz and Inej to really happen! And Nina and Matthias. (I didn’t fully read your review so I don’t get spoiled.)

  • I have never read this author and I have said this a lot about my reading lately, I need to step out of my genre box! great review and thanks for sharing.

  • Angel @Angel Reads

    I still haven’t had the chance to pick pick Crooked Kingdom up. I loved Six of Crows, but time and money haven’t been on my side. But I am really looking forward to it – expect that someone already spoiled me so, frustrating. Thanks for the review.

  • I looooved Crooked Kingdom so much! Wylan was also my favorite character which I why I think I loved Crooked Kingdom so much more than Six of Crows. About the spoiler… it’s annoying that it was random but I get that it was essentially done by his former self :-/

  • I’m so thrilled you ended up loving the end to this duology and your review is seriously gorgeous. I can tell how much you love Bardugo’s writing. I need to read the first Grisha trilogy first but this sounds awesome. Are you jazzed about Wonder Woman in August!!? I’m so excited to see what she creates with our favorite amazonian warrior princess!! (:

  • I LOVED this book. This gang <3 I love them all so dearly. Their banter is golden.

  • You are right, one of the BEST fantasy series ever. These characters are so endearing, that I couldn’t help but cheer them on, even when their methods were reckless and sometimes brutal. So good and such an opening for another spin-off series.

    What happened was a kick in the feels and unlike you, it came as a surprise for me. You’re right that it felt a bit unnecessary, other than to proof that these amazing group was not immortal…

  • Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle

    I read the duology at the end of last year and was so glad I did! Your review is spot on, it’s one of the best fantasy series I’ve read. The plotting is meticulous and so twisty, and the characters are fully realized and amazing. You’re so right about the good and evil, it’s hard to make the audience sympathize with “bad people” and Leigh really pulls it off! Miraculously I hadn’t heard any spoilers but I’ve had that happen with other books before and it’s the worst ๐Ÿ™ I thought Kaz and Inej were a little too subtle too, I wanted more! But overall it was a brilliant book that I’d love to reread someday. Excellent review!

  • Michelle

    I LOVED THIS BOOK/DUO. I do agree with your spoilery comment though … It did feel pretty random. And I didn’t react NEARLY as emotionally as I would have expected to. But I LOVE the plot twists and turns and ALL of the characters ๐Ÿ˜€ Great review!

  • I liked CK soooo much! More than SoC, actually. I didn’t know about the spoiler beforehand, BUT I agree with your thoughts on it. I just loved the characters in this series so much- they made the whole thing for me. They were so well done! And of course, the Grishaverse is always spectacularly done! Great review, Nick!

  • CK destroyed me in the best possible way. The characters are all just so phenomenal and I am so happy that Wylan and Jesper got more page time and we got to learn more about their pasts and how it shaped them. The romantic in me was also begging for more Kaz/Inej but I actually loved it. They’re both so broken but they’ve both made strides in their relationship that I feel confident and hopeful about their future.

    I was hoping their wouldn’t be any fatalities but his fate crushed me cause I’d fooled myself into a false sense of security despite the fact I knew it was more or less coming. I would not be down for that other pairing right now and if that is the case i’ll be disappointed.

  • Jazmen Greene

    People keep saying how amazing this series is, so I bought book one–and all it’s done is sit its cute self on my shelf. I probably need to pick it up, finally! Great review! ๐Ÿ™‚