Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows, #2
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: September 27th 2016
“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.“
“Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?”
Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom, the stunning conclusion to her Six of Crows duology, packs quite the punch. At the end of Six of Crows, one member of the crew was taken hostage and Kaz found himself the mark in a game of duplicity. Determined to take back what rightfully belongs to him and his team, Kaz once again comes up with an impossible plan to fool the world and finally exact revenge on the man who took everything from him years ago. With some of the best actions scenes I’ve read Crooked Kingdom is the perfect follow-up to Six of Crows and in many ways might even be better.
The cast of this duology continues to be one of my favorite ensemble of characters. They’re fully-realized, complex, and I love that Bardugo always gives us something new to learn about them. It isn’t just their current character arcs that make them compelling, but the backstories that helped shape them. Every character adds something important to the team and I loved what they had in common and what set them apart from each other. Jesper brings playful humor (not to mention he’s an incorrigible flirt) to the narrative, but he struggles to make up for his past mistakes, wondering if he’ll ever be the kind of son his father believes him to be. Wylan has come such a long way from the wide-eyed, rich kid running away from his father. His skills at making explosives are essential to the crews’ plans and while Wylan harbors a lot of hurt from his father’s rejection, he’s found a place among this band of criminals, which is both unexpected and wonderful.
I may consider Mattias to be the one with the most character development. Hailing from a people who are raised to hate Grisha, Mattias was taught that that these abilities were entirely unnatural. His relationship with Nina has complicated his worldview and his loyalty to her has opened up a new outlook on life. His views of Grisha continue to be challenged in this second book, giving hope to those like Nina, who believe that one day a peace can be reached between nations. Nina’s self-sacrificing act in the previous novel has a profound effect on who she is in this sequel. As she fights to control her hunger for more jurda parem, she learns that the experience has altered her irrevocably.
Inej has seen darkness, has suffered at the hands of some of the most amoral people in Ketterdam. While the corruption has eaten away at many, Inej remains hopeful and good. She’s spent years in servitude and longs to finally be free, to take control of her own life and prevent others from falling victim to the same fate. Kaz has spent years building walls around himself, both as a means of survival and a reaction to the horrors he experienced as a child. Kaz will never be sentimental, he’s ruthless and unapologetic, but there are those rare moments that give us a glimpse of the person underneath. His life has been devoted to one thing, to avenge his brother and while he wants everyone to believe he’s heartless, it is not what Kaz says but what he does for others that defines him.
Bardugo excels at writing an entertaining, edge-of-your-seat sequel that will leave you breathless and wishing this series would go on forever.