Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pages: 448 pages
Release Date: September 27th, 2016
Source: Hardcover from Strand Bookstore
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
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“When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.”
I was not ready for Crooked Kingdom. I mean, how could anyone be prepared for a book with red-stained pages? Bloody (whoops) red-stained pages. To sum up this sequel and finale in a single word, Crooked Kingdom was a masterpiece -a magnificently plotted, twisty-turny, mind-boggling, thrilling literary masterpiece.
Going into Crooked Kingdom, I vowed to savor the Six of Crows finale. And I’m assuming, you realize that it wasn’t the case (*sheds tear*). If you need any convincing to begin Six of Crows, I’ll let you know that the black-stained pages of the stunning hardcover edition, are not without purpose. The first novel follows the Dregs -a team of six rather insignificant “gang” members who are offered the greatest heist of the century, for a reward that would make them Kings and Queens. Crooked Kingdom follows the consequences of said heist… when things don’t turn out the way they should have, in Six of Crows. The story is dark, and mysterious, and Leigh Bardugo will pull the carpet right out from under your feet.
In Crooked Kingdom, the story takes a darker turn. The plot thickens, and suddenly more than just the lives of seven people are at stake. Leigh’s characters are also as diverse as her Universe. From the Crows’ cultural backgrounds to their unique skill sets and personal obstacles, each character is so raw and so real. The duology also explores mental health illnesses such as PTSD and anxiety in the heroes and heroines. But the Crows aren’t considered heroes or heroines. They’re a band of thieves and vigilantes. Anti Heroes and underdogs. I thought I loved Leigh’s Grisha Trilogy, but Six of Crows completely overwhelmed me, in the best way possible. And that’s all I’m saying for the non-spoilery discussion!
To keep this discussion/review from being the length of the Magna Carta, we’ve created a few questions, with rant-worthy, VERY SPOILERY answers! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Who was your favorite character from Crooked Kingdom?
Alex: If you asked me when I had just finished Six of Crows, I would have said Matthias. But after Crooked Kingdom? Wow. I think I'd have to say Wylan. In book 1, I thought that he felt a lot like a side character. Anyone who's read this series knows that the 6 main characters in the book are the 6 crows, but I thought Wylan just faded into the background most of the time in book 1. He never left any lasting impression. That all changed, however, in book 2. I think Crooked Kingdom was Wylan's bitch. We learned so much more about his backstory and the final showdown with his father WAS JUST PERFECTION. It was the exact character arc that I had been looking for in book 1.
Yingchao: Kaz Brekker. Through all the bits and pieces of Kaz’s horrifyingly tragic backstory, I had begun to forget how good of a fighter Kaz is, and had actually started to pity the guy. For someone with a crippled leg and slight frame, I was cradling my shattered heart as he took on those treacherous Dregs back at Per Haskell’s. When he was nearly choked and toyed the line with Death, I feared for my precious Crow’s dear life. But Kaz Brekker doesn’t make you forget that he’s a cunning mastermind. Remember, he had risen to the top by winning brawls and cheating everyone and their mothers. To the people outside his inner circle, Kaz is a cold-hearted wicked devil without a sliver of a compassionate soul. And yes, as he broke one traitor’s leg and smoothly cracked another’s skull, the least I could do was cheer on our little Brekker.
What was your favorite scene from Crooked Kingdom?
Alex: There's only defining moment that I remember better than my own name. It was when Jesper kissed Kuwei thinking it was Wylan. At that moment, I was feeling two things- extreme sadness for Wylan because he felt unloved and incredible laughter. I just laughed at that part because it was so incredibly cute and gave the book a little light-heartedness from all the chaos that was occurring. Come on, I know some of you had to be laughing at that part too!
Yingchao: I absolutely loved the ending, and I don't mean the Reunion ending, but the finally defeating Van Eck, the Shu, and the Fjerdans, ending. When all hope is lost, there’s still a way out. When we’d thought Kaz would have a Plan E after plans A, B, C, and D failed, but he...didn’t, and STILL managed to kick major villain-ass, I loved that moment. At one point, I had to put down the book to seriously process what had happened. Inej had fought literally, and figuratively (in a way), fought and overcame her inner demons. Wylan outplayed his father. Nina developed a new, deadlier power. Jesper embraced his Fabrikator powers. Matthias and Nina played their parts just right. And Kaz. He finally got his revenge on Pekka. He outsmarted everyone. The ending fills me with the hope that even if everything goes to utter and complete shit, there’s ALWAYS a way out- you just have to think of it. This was the ending I wanted. The ending I could’ve ever hoped for, and Leigh Bardugo tied together all the loose knots so perfectly.
What did you least like about the Six of Crows duology?
Alex: I have to agree with Yingchao on this one! There isn't one thing I don't like about this duology because it's pure perfection. Crooked Kingdom made my top book of 2016 and Six of Crows was actually one of the best in the year I read it. I wish she would just go out on a limb and write some novellas for these characters and the world of Ketterdam. PLEASE LEIGH BARDUGO. APPEASE THE MASSES! Love you.
Yingchao: I didn't like that the story ended so soon. Truthfully, if Leigh wrote another 50 books about the Dregs, I would eat them up like Pumpkin Cheesecake; her writing is just that addicting. I was really hoping to see kaz and Inej as a couple, to see two of my all-stoke favorite characters be happy after their tragic pasts, but alas that was not to be. We do get a glimpse of them resembling a couple at the very end, and I only wish for Leigh Bardugo to write a short novella taking place maybe 6 months into the future. please? Just one more adventure, one last time?