Review: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

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.

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I don’t think there was a book out this year I have been anticipating more than Crooked Kingdom and I am so sad that it’s over! It wasn’t completely what I was expecting and not everything I wanted to happen happened, but it was, of course, so good!

Like Six of Crows, the story shifts between POVs in every chapter and this time Wylan’s perspective is included, too. In the first book, all I wanted was more Kaz, so when it took too long to get back to him I got a little antsy. This time I prepared myself for that and I ended up enjoying all the different perspectives a lot more.

I was kind of expecting a pretty fast pace, but the story-telling is similar to the first book, as well. There are bouts of action throughout, but there’s also a lot of time spent with character development. While I was expecting them to learn and grow (and they did), I was not expecting getting even more backstory on them. While it did throw the pacing off a little bit, I loved that there was still so much to learn about these characters, things that helped make them who they are. That said, I was happy when the pace did pick up during about the last third of the book and was full of the schemes and twists and surprises that were just so much fun to read. I also enjoyed seeing some cameos of characters from The Grisha series, including one of my all time favorite characters!

The romantic pairings all get their moments in the sun, as well. While this took up a small portion of the overall book, I can’t deny that I loved every bit of it and would’ve liked even more. At the book signing I went to someone asked Bardugo who her OTP (One True Pair, for those non-shipper enthusiasts out there) was in this series and she said, “you’ll see.” While I think there could be an argument made for each of the couples, I am convinced it’s Kaz and Inej (though they are also my OTP, so I may be biased). Like I said, there weren’t a lot of moments, but the characters made the most of them and it just made me so happy.

“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.”

The ending was not quite what I was expecting, either. It leaves some things open for possible spin-offs (Bardugo also said at the event I went to that she would be interested in writing more books in the Grisha universe, though not for a little while). We don’t get to see what everybody’s Happily Ever Afters look like. And perhaps not all of them get one.

Overall, Crooked Kingdom was a great end to the series, though I wish there were still more books to come! The characters are amazing and their stories were compelling. There were lots of fun twists. I love Kaz Brekker even more than I did after Six of Crows, which I didn’t think was quite possible. This is definitely one of my favorite series and I already can’t wait to re-read it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars

4.5 stars

Ok, now I need to talk about some SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the book yet, please don’t read any further!

*SPOILERS * SPOILERS * SPOILERS *SPOILERS *SPOILERS

I mentioned above that maybe not everyone gets a Happily Ever After and it’s true. Matthias DIES!!!!!!!!!! I was so upset. I will never be one of those people that say characters need to die to keep things “realistic.” I don’t read fantasy for realism! I wanted them all to live! However, if one of them *had* to die, Matthias was really the only choice. His character arc was complete. He had learned the most, put his prejudice behind him. I feel like all the characters, despite how much they’ve grown over the course of the books, still have a lot of growing to do. Before Matthias dies he asks Nina to help the other Fjerdans see the error of their ways and we last see her board a ship to take his body back to his homeland for burial which I think sets things up for a Nina spin-off.

-Wylan’s mother is alive! I honestly kind of expected this since Wylan never went to the funeral (literally no mourners, no funerals) or saw her body. I did think it was a nice twist, though. Wylan grows up so much in this book and I loved seeing him get the upper hand over his dad! I also enjoyed watching his relationship with Jesper develop and loved Jesper’s growth throughout the story, as well.

-Kaz and Inej!!! I love them so hard! I liked that we got to see a little more of Kaz dealing with his PTSD and Inej admitting to how her time in the Menagerie messed her up, as well. I felt like it was kind of glossed over in the first book, but we really get to see the psychological and emotional ramifications of it here. I loved how they didn’t magically “fix” each other. And while a part of me really did want to see them ride off into the sunset together (maybe to Kaz’s farm property or on Inej’s boat), I’m actually really happy that neither of them gave up their future plans. While they won’t always be physically together, they’ll still be together. I debated between 4 and 4.5 stars for this book because the beginning did honestly drag a little bit for me, but my Kaz & Inej love decided to knock it up the extra 1/2 star.

-STURMHOND MAKES AN APPEARANCE!!! He’s one of my all time favorite characters and to see him with Kaz – my other all time favorite character – was amazing! How amazing would a Sturmhond & Kaz spin-off be?!?! Please, Bardugo, can you make that happen?