by Leigh Bardugo
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.
Crooked Kingdom follows on almost directly from where Six of Crows left off, and after I finished Six of Crows, which you’ll know I adored if you’ve seen my review, I had to pick up Crooked Kingdom straight away. I’m so glad I didn’t read Six of Crows when it first came out so I didn’t have to wait a whole year for this one.
I was hesitant going into Crooked Kingdom because I’d seen a lot of people who’d loved Six of Crows say they were disappointed with it, and I hate it when a brilliant book is given a lousy sequel. Luckily I didn’t share those opinions at all, though I can understand them to an extent.
I’m thrilled that this series was my first foray into a duology – or at least into completing one – because it’s now a type of series that I’m eagerly seeking more of and have fallen in love with. Trilogies and longer series can be fun, but I usually find with trilogies that the second book is a filler that, in all likelihood, didn’t really need to be there. With this series the action is non-stop, and while there are slower sections of Crooked Kingdom I loved those sections because of the way they fleshed out the characters who were already wonderfully realised in Six of Crows.
Six of Crows is a heist story, Crooked Kingdom is not. Crooked Kingdom is essentially a book of consequences, a book of what happens when you take a risk and it doesn’t necessarily pay off straight away, and I think that’s one of the reasons why some readers were disappointed by it; Six of Crows is so much fun that, at times, Crooked Kingdom feels a little bit like being doused in ice cold water in comparison. But that’s what I loved about it. I loved that the Dregs’ actions in the first book had consequences, and I loved that some of the problems they had, both outward and inward, didn’t magically go away.
Given how dark this fantastical world is – particularly Ketterdam, which is quite literally run by gang violence and prostitution – it would have felt incredibly unrealistic to me if Crooked Kingdom had that same jaunty feel to it that parts of Six of Crows did. Six of Crows is a bit more of a romp than this novel, where these characters who I adore have to come face to face with their demons (literally, in Inej’s case) after running away from them in the first book.
Is it the same as Six of Crows? No, and to be honest Bardugo would have done her plot and her characters a huge disservice if it had been.
This is a difficult book to review without giving any spoilers away, and while I’m fairly certain that most people won’t be reading this unless they’ve already read Six of Crows I’m still not going to give anything away. All I’m going to say is that I had so much fun with this story and these characters, and while I did prefer Six of Crows overall because, let’s face it, heist stories are awesome, I think Bardugo’s character work and plotting is exquisite throughout this duology. I can’t wait to reread it.