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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 streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
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. 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 : View Spoiler »So Matthias’ death … What even was the point? I knew it was coming, but it felt so out of place and not at all natural. If he had to die, I wish it hadn’t been at the hands of some random person. I don’t know if it was because I saw the death coming, but I also didn’t react as emotionally as I thought I would which made me sad because I LOVED Matthias. Part of me feels like Bardugo killed him off to make way for a Nina & Sturmhound romance if she writes a spin-off series for him – there were some subtle hints here and there throughout the book that indicated to that. So I don’t know, I felt a little cheated I guess, and was the only thing I disliked about Crooked Kingdom. « Hide 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!