book review: crooked kingdom, by leigh bardugo

IMG_0778Welcome 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.

IMG_0783Overall, 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!


19 comentários sobre “book review: crooked kingdom, by leigh bardugo

  1. I totally agree about the ending – like wtf was that?! Matthias’ death was just like 😭 and I just think that the ending between Kaz & Inej was bad, I like them together but it was so not Kaz to be that nice so plainly.
    Leigh has said she’d write a third book to the series but that it’ll be years away 😕

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    • The endingggg ughhh what a mess. I can’t even express my feelings coherently, and I’m surprised I didn’t for this review.
      I actually completely agree that Kaz & Inej kinda tamed Kaz so much that the result of his life-long vendetta against Pekka Rollins just felt flat. Like, we spent two books expecting this character to be completely destroyed and he just leaves town? I feel like it could’ve gone a lot darker, but because Kaz had to be a “good guy” now, the author didn’t go there. It was very disappointing, for sure.
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, El! 😊

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  2. Great review, Lais, and one I wholeheartedly agree with! I love Kaz as a character; I think his back-story is so fantastic and emotional, but he has some serious issues, haha. Having said that, I liked how Bardugo handled his and Inej’s relationship in the end, where it signified genuine affection and care for each other, but wasn’t unrealistic with their limits, if that makes sense.

    The ending really bummed me out too. I have said this time and time again but Kaz should have been the one to die. I love him, he’s one of my favorites, but it would have been a natural progression arc for his character had his character – usually portrayed as cruel, cold and selfish – laid down his life for people he has come to think of as friends. Matthias had SO much left to do! He could have really helped his people come out of their prejudices towards the Grisha. I just felt he had a much larger role to play, and his entire development was wasted. It felt a lot like a cop-out because a lot of the fans hated Matthias, so Leigh thought “Well someone has to die, let’s kill the one who no one likes.” :(

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    • I do agree that the way it was handled at the end felt realistic for the characters. I think my only problem is that I expected the story to go a little further towards the end, but it didn’t, otherwise it could ruin their relationship.
      I completely agree that Kaz’s death would’ve made the most sense. I think Matthias really could’ve had a lot more development to his story in future books. I understand why people dislike him so much, but I think he grew a lot, moreover in this second book, so I think he deserved a second chance.
      My biggest complaint about his death, though, was that it felt a bit unrealistic. They’re literally fighting with half of the city, everyone’s against him and yet they make it out alive. But then a random kid shoots him, and that’s it? It felt like Harry Potter had just won the Battle of Hogwarts and then slipped, hit his head on a rock and died. Considering how much they’ve gone through, I wished that he had died either saving the team or protecting Nina. It would’ve made much more sense, in my opinion.
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! 😊

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  3. Lovely review! I just read this book, so it was the perfect time to read this post. I really did love this book too, but I totally see what you mean about the ending?? First of all, Matthias, NO, WHY. Second, you’re so right, it did seem to wrap up so easily- I was completely expecting some kind of plot twist and then it just…ended.

    I love Nina and Matthias too! My favorite character is Jesper (I feel like this is maybe an unpopular opinion, haha, but I love him) and then my second favorite I think is probably Wylan. They’re just hilarious and adorable?! I did love Kaz and Inej’s interactions, but they aren’t my favorite couple or my favorite characters (though of course I do love them ;) ).

    I do agree so much that this series is amazing at intertwining important themes into fantasy! I really, really loved that about this series.

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    • Thank you sooo muchhhh!
      Jesper is hilarious and I loved his presence in this book. His witty remarks definitely made the story more dynamic and fun. Wylan was also refreshing; he was almost innocent at times, and I appreciated that a lot.
      This series’ highlight to a lot of important subjects made me love it even more. I’ve read other reviews and it truly hit me how much it means to other people, such as Kaz’s disability, for example.
      Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Olivia! 😍

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  4. This was great to see your thoughts– it’s been a while since I’ve read these but I remember loving them and I do want to reread them. Also I would love to reread so I could look more closely at Matthias’s growth because I was aware of it of course but I didn’t pay it enough attention (if that makes sense) and I love character growth. The ending was really sad– I felt sorry for both of them!! Yes I like how it touched on real issues in a fantasy world and I thought Leigh wrote them well. And I read them before I read the grisha trilogy and I could understand everything too!! I did enjoy the grisha trilogy– it has some issues but I did enjoy it!!
    I loved Wylan in this series, I thought he was a great character but I think that I loved the whole group dynamic and how the characters were all different but worked well together. And I would love it if we got more from this group!! Great review!! <3

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    • I highly encourage you to re-read it if you feel like it, because Matthias’ growth is so important and so worth reading! I related to it to a personal level, almost. It was such a powerful call out on privilege and hatred and ignorance and education and soooo many elements that I definitely didn’t expect being discussed.
      Wylan is such a sweetheart! He was a super refreshing character and going deeper into his backstory in this novel made me super happy.
      Thank you so much for the comment! 💛

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  5. Lovely review, Lais! <3 I'm glad to see you overall enjoyed that sequel, though I have to agree about some elements of that ending, like that ending, whattttttt. Talking about a particular character here haha. I absolutely loved how Matthias grew as a character in this book and the series and ahh. <3

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    • Thank you so muchhh!
      I’m still not over that ending. Two days after I finished the book, I caught myself staring into a wall, just thinking about it and almost crying again. It’s just A LOT OF FEELINGS.
      Matthias is the best, I love him a looot!
      Thanks for the comment, Marie! ❣️

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  6. OMG HAHA YOU HATE KAZ?? I’ve read this so long ago and honestly… I don’t remember /anything/ at all except that I had a complete hangover after and read Shadow and Bone, which became my subsequent obsession. Also, I do remember that one scene with Inej on the rooftop where she was fighting someone and she was looking for the other person’s tell and that scene was just… vv good. I’m emo about the ending

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    • I KNOW. Everyone loves Kaz except for me. It’s a problem, hahah.
      That scene was super interesting! It was nice seeing some of these characters’ weaknesses sometimes, as they feel almost invincible. The character she was fighting is called Denyasha (?), I believe, and there was a whole narrative with her being Inej’s shadow and it was quite fascinating, honestly.
      I’m still emo about the ending. It’s been two weeks. I don’t know if I’ll get over it, lol.
      Thanks for the comment, Julianna! 😌

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  7. This was so interesting to read omg, as someone who ADORES EVERYTHING about this book ahahaha. AND KAZ. 😂😱 I love his character so much ahahah. I’m glad you like Matthias and Nina!! Matthias has such a good soul, and Nina is my queen haha. I love them both individually and together so much! And although I loved the ending (well, not the death, but how shocking it was), I totally get what you’re saying! After all they went through, it seemed so…. ??!??
    Matthias deserved so much more ahhhhh. I loved reading your review! <3

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    • I’m glad I could introduce a new look on the book, hahah. Nina truly is a queen! I loved reading in her perspective and it almost made me want to pick up King of Scars, just because she has a narration there too.
      Matthias really deserves the worlddd! I love him a lot, hahah.
      Thanks for the comment, Aline! 💞


  8. SAME okay I thought Matthias’s death was a little unnecessary also. It didn’t match the build up at all of everything else that was super high stakes. It felt too easy and kind of dumb way for a main character to die. I definitely still think the books are worth the hype tho!

    I really love how the book explored important themes in a fantasy world as well. It showed how it was more REAL. I started the original Grisha trilogy, and it definitely isn’t as great as the SoC series but it’s interesting so far :)

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    • I completely agree with what you said about Matthias’ death. Considering everything that they went through, I feel like his death could’ve happened differently. I was talking to my friend the other day and I explained it to him as if, after the Battle of Hogwarts and defeating Voldemort, Harry bumps in a rock, hits his head and dies. He survived EVERYTHING but didn’t survive this. It was the same with Matthias: he went through everything, but couldn’t go through a random kid with a gun, lol. It was not what I expected, at all.
      I’ve seen a lot of people giving mediocre reviews to the Grisha trilogy, which is why I’m not interested at all in picking it up. But I do hope you enjoy it more than the rest of my Goodreads feed, hahah.
      Thanks for stopping by, Tiffany! 😌

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  9. Hey!! Sorry I haven’t been around. College was godawful and I took a little break but I’m back now!

    That said, I enjoyed Crooked Kingdom but I agree I loved Six of Crows more. I felt the character who was killed off was killed off for the sake of it and I was MAD! But overall i did enjoy the book! I like Kaz as a character, he’s brilliantly written but as a person? Not so much. I understand why he is the way he is but that doesn’t mean I have to like it (If that makes any sense :P ) Inej and Nina were my favourite characters and I really grew to love Matthias as well <3

    But otherwise I really liked the ending. not the one for Matthias though, but otherwise. I feel like Leigh set up well for future storylines.

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    • Uma! It’s great to have you back!
      I totally agree: the death was more for the sake of it than anything else and it didn’t make a lot of sense. I know that a “finale” needs a major death in order to really break the audience’s heart, but it wasn’t as well crafted as I expected.
      I do understand how you feel about Kaz, hahah. I’ve learnt that morally grey characters aren’t my favorites, though! I just typically hate their guts too much to care, hahah.
      I do hope she works out future storylines with these characters in the future. I’d love to read them!
      Thanks for the comment, Uma! 😊


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