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.
Hello, fellow bookworms!
Today, I bring one of the most exciting reviews I’ve ever done and I’m the only one who’s excited about it, but STILL. It’s been a year since I read Six of Crows and definitely around four to six months since I’ve been procrastinating picking up Crooked Kingdom. Fantasy books terrify me, and this one’s not short at all, so I was very, very intimidated.
The experience turned out to be much better than I anticipated, though I definitely still had my issues after all. And, by the way, I still hate Kaz Brekker a lot.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: addiction, torture, violence, forced prostitution and sex trafficking and trauma-related mental illness.
- Matthias. And Nina. Mostly Matthias, though. When reading Six of Crows, my favorite character was actually Inej, but Crooked Kingdom changed my opinion completely and solidified Nina and Matthias as my favorites. Their banter is absolutely amazing, but as individuals they’re also incredible. Matthias is such a pure soul, while also being absolutely badass. Nina is hilarious and goes through so much at the beginning and still would defend her people to death. Plus: she’s not skinny, and that representation means more to me than I can put into words. They also happen to be ridiculously amazing together – the type of amazing that makes your heart hurt every time they look at each other.
- The growth from the characters. Because I love Matthias the most, I feel like I also have to mention his unbelievable growth throughout the duology. He starts off as a guy with a lot of stereotypical ideas about the Grishas, trapped in his own cycle of hate that he was taught his whole life. But after going through everything, he learns so much, which really shows how hatred can come from ignorance and education is the only way to stop it. In general, all the characters go through an amazing development and become better people – as good as you can expect thieves to be, anyway.
- Surprisingly, Kaz & Inej. I didn’t care for Kaz & Inej at all in Six of Crows, mostly because I love Inej and despise Kaz so the two just didn’t add up. This installment, though, had me crying (in public) with their interactions. I do still stand by the fact, though, that these two don’t need each other; what they need is some intense therapy. But counting on someone else was already a good start.
- Discussing important themes in a fantasy world. Leigh Bardugo was able to intertwine very meaningful topics in a fantastical story and it worked beautifully. She discusses trauma, disability, sex trafficking and a lot of other themes that you wouldn’t expect to be in a fantasy novel. I was surprised by how well these messages were delved into the story and it added a very important layer to the book.
- The world building and writing style. Granted: fantasy is not my thing, so take my praise to the world building with a grain of salt. I still love how we slowly got to know more about this world (especially since I am not familiar with it, not having read the Grisha trilogy), the people, the different languages and different cultures. Leigh Bardugo’s writing style is also fantastic: so beautiful and so atmospheric. It truly transported me to this world.
- The ending. Everything was PERFECT up until the last forty pages. They’re a mess. I was so underwhelmed, as I feel like the story wrapped itself up in a way that didn’t match the build up. The stakes are always so high for this series, but it didn’t feel this way in this conclusion. I’m not saying that things happened too conveniently, but considering how dark this series was, I expected we’d go a little further. The character loss we have in here also felt dumb and unnecessary, so… Yeah. I’m mad.
- It’s not as atmospheric as Six of Crows was. Even though I’ve given both these books the exact same rating, I still prefer Six of Crows over Crooked Kingdom. I feel like the first book was more atmospheric, and had more banter between the characters, as they were just starting to work as a group and didn’t trust each other completely yet. I also still stand by the fact that Six of Crows could’ve been a standalone; even though I really liked Crooked Kingdom as a book, it still feels objectively unnecessary to me.
Overall, I still consider these books worth the hype. They’re very well loved by the bookish community, and frankly, despise the few problems I had, I still find them worth checking out. There are a lot of things that make it stand out from other YA fantasies out there, which is probably why it gets so much buzz.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be picking up Leigh Bardugo’s original Grisha trilogy and because of that, her most recent novel, King of Scars, but if she ever releases anything else following these characters you can for sure count me in!
Let me know in the comments how you feel towards this series! I know it’s a very hyped and well loved one, but feel free to share some of your more unpopular opinions down below too!