Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Title: Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 5/5

Goodreads rating: 4.62/5

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher:  Orion Children’s Books

Summary (Goodreads):

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.
 

Review 

How do you write a review of a book you love so much? I read Six of Crows four years ago, and the adrenaline, love and passion I felt for the story and characters then was equally, if not more, replicated when it came to Crooked Kingdom. Jumping back into Ketterdam and becoming fastly immersed in the stories of these broken characters was easier than I anticipated, especially after four years.

This book gave me a distinct Harry Potter feeling. That feeling of familiarity I always get when rereading the Harry Potter series. There’s something comforting with reading Brekker’s cold stone cruelty, or Nina’s hilarious flirting. But these characters weren’t just familiar but Bardugo was able to continue their story arcs smoothly and competently so that when looking back at the beginning chapters of Six of Crows, these characters would be both known and unknown. Gosh I loved this book.

-Plot (spoilers for Six of Crows)

I was slightly, only slightly, concerned that due to how the last book ended that there might be a bit of the damsel-in-distress trope. Even though there was that slightly, for some reason I wasn’t bothered. Maybe because I knew Inej was more than just a damsel and the trope wasn’t her whole personality. After the first fifth of the book, the plot definitely picked up, but that’s not to say the first 100 pages wasn’t entertaining. This book is still primarily character-driven, and I loved the different character interactions and just reading them talking and scheming with each other. But after the first 100 pages or so, the stakes became even more heightened than I thought imaginable. I was scared to finish chapters because everything that could go wrong did- and I loved it. No characters felt like they had plot armour and Bardugo designed a plot which not only expanded on the world but also allowed her characters to show off their talents and flaws.

With the plot even intensifying with every chapter, it was hard to put down the book for one moment (I read this book in one day, in maybe three sittings). I have to spotlight Wylan and Jesper’s subplots within this novel, which were duly deserved due to them having to share one spotlight in Six of Crows. The subplots not only made them more likeable but more complex and engaging. As I’m drifting into talking about characters, let’s just go to that section.

Characters

I love these characters like I love the Golden Trio. HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN IN ONLY 2 BOOKS?! Rereading Six of Crows before picking up Crooked Kingdom really added some extra satisfaction to each and every character arc. Of course, I have to talk about Kaz Brekker. I was slightly concerned with how Bardugo would give us some closure to his character- a character which is so damaged and traumatised we couldn’t be given a sweet American pie conclusion. I loved how Bardugo handled Kaz and I don’t think she could’ve done better.

Though I have a special place for Brekker in my heart, it was really Jesper and Wylan who stole the show. As previously stated, the characters really developed much more complexity in this sequel. Jesper’s POV specifically felt refreshing and dynamic. Inej, Nina, and Matthias were written well and Bardugo surprised me by giving me even more character development than I anticipated.

Lastly, the romance in this book was perfect. It was tailored to each couple and used in an organic way. It was lovely to read about the overall group dynamic full of banter and angst, but also the personal relationship arcs. Nothing felt rushed or there just because it’s a YA book, but Bardugo actually thought through what the right way these relationships would actually work.

-Writing

Can’t really fault Bardugo’s writing in this book. Quick and smooth, she is able to craft out suspense and tension within a few words. It didn’t feel like there was a word wasted and while there is nothing particularly lyrical about her writing, there’s still something captivating about it. Whether it’s the effortless worldbuilding or the silky dialogue, Bardugo made a 500+ page book feel like 350. Furthermore, I adore and envy how skillfully she can craft distinct and alive character voices. With 6 plus POVs!

Verdict: Crooked Kingdom had solidified the Six of Crows duology as one of my favourite book series ever. I can say that with complete confidence and adoration. What more can I possibly say? 

-Astra

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