Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #2
Format: hardback; purchased
Published: Sept. 27th 2016
Synopsis: 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 left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, 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 magic in the Grisha world.
I feel stupid even including all that information and the synopsis, because chances are every single person reading this post already knows all about this book. But, to be a good little blogger and make everything look “official,” I included it anyways. I’m weird, okay?
But this is my first ever review on this blog! And it’s not just any review – coincidentally, the first book I finished this year also happens to be the sequel to my favorite book in the history of ever. This review will contain very light spoilers for the previous book, Six of Crows.
And let me tell you – Crooked Kingdom managed to snag a place in my heart right next to Six of Crows. At this point I can’t even differentiate between the two. This series just means the world to me.
So, that being said, I feel like I have some explaining to do. When I say Six of Crows is my favorite book ever, I don’t just mean that I “really really like it”. I mean that, if Six of Crows were a song, my heart would pound to its rhythm, my blood would flow to its tempo, and my soul would sing the melody. Every fiber of my being feels connected to these characters and this world, it’s a love and a passion that really matches no other in my life. It started when I first read the original Grisha trilogy, and ever since then the Grishaverse has been my home. I’ve spent a fair portion of my life wishing and praying that by some magical twist of fate I could live there myself. It’s not exactly the nicest or friendliest of places, but I wouldn’t hesitate longer than a breath if someone offered me the choice. The world that Leigh Bardugo has crafted just utterly consumes me, and her characters feel like they each make up a part of my existence. Kaz especially means a lot to me. Reading about a character with a very similar personality to mine, that struggles to share his emotions and show any sort of vulnerability, changed the way I see myself. It meant that someone like me could be a hero, and a quite devious one at that. He’s selfish and flawed, but at the end of the day usually manages to do the right thing, even if it’s for the wrong reason. If Kaz could overcome his demons, then it meant that I can too. I could go on all day about how much I love SoC and the Grisha trilogy, but I did come here to write an actual review. So if for some reason you want to witness more of my obsession for yourself, check out my Instagram or Twitter for daily updates!
Also, if it means anything, I’m currently burning an Inej themed candle* while writing this review. I also have a candle for Kaz and one for the Little Palace**. I dream of one day having candles for all of the countries/important places in the Grishaverse, as well as a candle for each of the Dregs. Did you not believe I was obsessed? I should show you all my bookmark collection sometime.
OKAY I’M GETTING TO THE ACTUAL REVIEW I PROMISE.
And by “actual review,” I hope you realize that means a description of all the things I love about this book that mainly consists of
- rabid fangirling
- a few actual insightful thoughts
- more sobbing
Alright, HERE WE GO!
As a certified™ member of the Dregs and a Grisha Queen, Crooked Kingdom was everything I could’ve possibly dreamed of and more. In some ways, I loved it even more than SoC. It had about 3 times as much action, 15 times the hilarity, and 100 times more heart-crushing feels.
Leigh expertly took the foundation she created in Six of Crows and built it up into the mountain that is Crooked Kingdom. In SoC, we got a strong taste of who all these characters are, where they come from, what they want, and who they trust. But in Crooked Kingdom, we see them pushed to the absolute max. While each of them battle with different internal pressures, they have to work together in order to outmaneuver and outplay various forces throughout Ketterdam. The largest and most obvious of those is Jan Van Eck. As a high-class merchant and ruthless businessman, Van Eck provides a different sort of challenge that the Dregs have yet to face. But don’t think that Pekka Rollins and his Dime Lions, or the Shu and they’re disturbingly powerful Grisha, were forgotten. Throughout Crooked Kingdom, we get to see our resourceful group of six carry out the most ingenious, high-stakes plans and hone each of their powerful skills. Every chapter offered a brand new twist that I never saw coming, right up until the very last page.
While I thought SoC focused heavily on Kaz, Inej, Nina, & Matthias, I definitely think CK concentrated on the backstories of Jesper and Wylan. And I really adored that! Obviously the other four characters experience the same amount of development and change, but I thought that CK revolved around Jesper and Wylan just a tiny bit more. In the process, I became much more attached to both of them, and I learned to appreciate their stories in a way I never have before. Jesper and Wylan are connected on so many levels, and once again Leigh blew me away with her ability to weave in heaps of detail and depth.
Speaking of depth, that was another thing that repeatedly shocked me throughout this book. I previously read a Tweet from Leigh recommending that you reread SoC before the release of CK, and I totally see why. Leigh referenced specific conversations and events that happened in SoC down to the word, and the striking parallels and foreshadowing that I was able to pick up on had me grinning like a fool. I’m sure if I reread CK, I would discover even more. There’s just so many layers to Leigh’s writing, and so many plot lines interwoven that all magically fuse together at the end. She’s a literal genius, and every time I read a book of hers I’m left in complete awe.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how I liked the end. After all, if this is my favorite series ever, and the final book in the series, the end is kind of an important part. Well, I definitely had some thoughts. But mostly, I was left in such a degraded state of crippling emotion after turning the final page that my only real thought was “NOOOOO.”
But just like the rest of the book, the ending was perfect. It was open-ended and filled with possibility, but not to the point where I was left with a ton of questions. The actual plot wraps up beautifully, and the reader has a pretty good idea of where each character is headed. However, it was broad enough and filled with enough hints that I still have some hope that we might yet see the Dregs again.
Please Leigh, PLEASE.
If you’ve read the book yourself, you’re also probably wondering how I felt about that event. You know which one I mean, involving a certain character that I won’t name. Well, suffice it to say, it was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever had to endure. I cried – and not just a small tear with some wistful sniffling. I sobbed, hiccuping uncontrollable sobs that racked my body for several minutes straight. A week later, and I still find myself tearing up. It felt like having a part of my soul sheared from my body. That may sound dramatic, but these characters truly mean everything to me. They feel as real as the people I see in my daily life. What they represent, and how they’re all so strong in such different ways, has always spoken to me.
This review is getting to the point of utter silliness, so I’ll wrap it up by saying that if you enjoyed the Grisha trilogy or Six of Crows, do yourself the favor and read this insane book. If you like high fantasy, or are a fan of general madness and adventure, then read this series. As you already know, it means the world to me. And it might just mean a whole lot for you too.
If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you! I promise not all my reviews will be this long or this crazy. It just so happens that Crooked Kingdom is a very special book to me, so my review needed to be a bit different! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Have you read the Grisha trilogy or the Six of Crows duology? TALK TO ME!! Or is there a book that means as much to you as SoC means to me? I’d love to hear all about it!
* Inej candle from Novelly Yours on Etsy, titled "The Wraith." It smells like flowers and sweetness and general amazingness, so I highly recommend it. ** These candles are from The Melting Library titled "Dirtyhands" and "Christmas at The Little Palace." I am also in love with these.