Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo Review

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Two years ago now I wrote a review of a little book series called The Grisha Trilogy and ended it with a wish to read more stories set in that universe. Well, my wish came true, because in 2015 the amazing Leigh Bardugo delivered with the wonderful Six of Crows. With the release of the second book last month, I figured once again I’d do a little review of the recent happenings in the Grishaverse.

Obviously I gave The Grisha Trilogy a glowing review, so I was a little nervous about revisiting the world again. The plot description enticed me though… the whole Oceans 11 meets Game of Thrones thing was too intriguing to pass up on. And Six of Crows blew me away.

As much as I enjoyed the first series, it was undeniably very YA. The books were shorter, there was a love triangle, and it was very much about how one person can change the world. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things – but these later instalments of the Grishaverse were just on another level. Multiple POV chapters. No romance fuelling the plot. And most importantly – no hero. Despite the young characters, this series doesn’t come off as YA. It’s the Grishaverse’s grittier, sexier, older sibling.

The Six of Crows duology is about a gang of misfit thieves who plan to pull off the ultimate heist. Through the POV chapters we learn about the backstories of each of these characters and their motivation for attempting to do the impossible. We learn about their specific skills and what they hope to get out of the cards they’ve been dealt. The first instalment, the titular Six of Crows, is an amazing adventure story. It’s gripping, well written, and has just the right amount of nods to the original trilogy to appease both new readers and old. I read this book over a year ago now and there are still scenes stuck firmly in my head.

The second book, Crooked Kingdom, was equally as amazing – though there’s something about the first book I found more endearing. Though the writing and the character building and the pacing were just as great the second time around – the overall plot felt weaker to me. There were times I completely forgot what was going on and I thought two different characters were the same person for a good two thirds of the book. The characters’ drive from the first story also seemed to have disappeared in this one and I was often left wondering why they were doing certain things.

The strongest part of this series comes from the characters and I think it’s a real testament to Bardugo’s writing that she could portray all these diverse people so wonderfully. Diverse being the key word here: with the main cast including POC, LGBT, and disabled characters. My favourite character in both instalments was Inej – with Jesper as a close second. Total badassery with a light side of comic relief – just how I like ‘em.

It’s not necessary to read The Grisha Trilogy before Six of Crows, but for the second book in particular, it would definitely aid your enjoyment. Some characters from the first series make an appearance in the second book and you’ll definitely appreciate some of the interactions more if you got to know them in their own series first. One of my issues with Crooked Kingdom was that it did feel a bit fan service-y – but that fan service brought me another glimpse at my three favourite characters so I will gladly take it. But to really appreciate those moments – reading the first series definitely helps.

I could sit and gush over this series for hours but I’d rather not give anything away. If you want a fun, innovative fantasy series with great diversity and excellent world building – then Six of Crows is for you. If not, then get better taste in books. I’ll end this review of the Grishaverse as I ended my last one – WHERE IS MY NIKOLAI SPINOFF STORY?!

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Author: Rosanna Parrish

Brit exiled in Spain.

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