Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Henry Holt & Co.
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Romance
For Fans of: Great storytelling, anti-heroes, The Grisha trilogy, wonderful characters, shippable ships, FEELINGS
My rating: 5 weeping stars out of 5
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.
“I would come for you,” he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. “I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together—knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”
I am a mess. I am a sobbing, broken mess.
I didn’t read Six of Crows until the beginning of this year, and in a way I’m glad. Because while the wait for Crooked Kingdom has been excruciating and nearly consumed me whole, at least I can say that I haven’t had to wait as long as most other people.
This duology holds a special place in my heart. From the minute I read Inej’s first chapter in Six of Crows, I knew I’d carry this story and these characters with me for a long time. There’s a magic to this series that I don’t find in many books, and when I do, I treasure it. I’d sell my left foot for a chance to experience this series for the first time again.
Bardugo is incredibly gifted when it comes to crafting characters – they leap off the page. They’re real, they’re diverse, and they make nests for themselves in your heart and never leave. I love them – Kaz and Inej in particular – like they’re my own. I feel for them as if they’re real people I know and have come to accept into my small circle of friends. I am currently writing this review unable to feel my own fingers, and with my heart pulsing weakly in my throat. This book has ruined me forever.
Crooked Kingdom is a trip. It starts at a 100 miles an hour and gains speed as it goes along. The jump in quality from Six of Crows to Crooked Kingdom is astounding. How Bardugo improves this much from book to book, I’ll never know. But if you thought Six of Crows was well-written, Crooked Kingdom is going to take your breath away. Things are a lot more tense, this time around. The con is trickier, the game they’re playing much more dangerous that when they were infiltrating the most guarded prison in the world. And the haul is so much more greater than ever before.
Crooked Kingdom opens a few days after the ending of Six of Crows, with the gang in the middle of a crazy scheme to get Inej back and destroy Van Eck. And you’d think that it’d be as simple as that – but you’d be wrong. The stakes in this book are bigger than anyone of us, I think, ever imagined. There’s so much more going on than just taking taking Van Eck down and boy, is it a ride.
I loved how much more layered each character got. (Yes, it does always come back to the characters for me). We got to take a closer look inside their minds, got to know them better as people. And after everything they went through in the first book, they all went through some pretty serious, but believable, changes. Kaz, especially became so much more complex. Look, I’m sure that some people will look at this and say he lost his edge. But he didn’t, not really. Crooked Kingdom saw Kaz even more ruthless than he was before, and a little more unhinged. Because this time he was letting himself feel things, and his emotions affected his behavior.
Did he soften a bit? Yes.
Was he still the mad schemer we all know and love? Yes.
Was he cruel and vicious and sometimes murdery? Yes.
Did he keep to the character development that was set up for him at the end of the last book? (“He wasn’t so broken that he couldn’t pull himself together into some semblance of a man for her”) Yes. I mean, guys, he’s an anti-hero. Not a cold villain. There was ALWAYS good in him. This was the point. To see him grow into that.
DID HE GROW LIKE AN ACTUAL HUMAN BEING? Y E S.
A quick list of things I wasn’t too happy about, before I wrap up:
1. NOT ENOUGH KAZ CHAPTERS. WHAT THE HECK.
2. Kuwei seemed kinda pointless as a character tbh
3. I honestly hoped Inej would figure out what the R on Kaz’s bicep meant, but okay.
4. No, seriously. where the heck were all the Kaz chapters.
But honestly, these were tiny things. Sure, the lack of Kaz chapters bothered me, but in the grand scheme of things, these weren’t big enough annoyances to stop me from giving this book ALL THE STARS.
My point it, this was a fabulous book, one I will be reading again and again and again. It ended the way it should have, on a fast-paced, bloody note, and even though I will never accept that this is the end of this tale, everything about it was perfect.
Also, Leigh Bardugo is an evil genius and has thoroughly ruined my heart, and I need to go lie down on the floor some more.
PS: Inej is an absolute boss and I love her to bits.