My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Series: Six of Crows (Book 2)
Hardcover: 560 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Needless to say, Crooked Kingdom was nothing short of perfection. This sequel to Bardugo’s groundbreaking Six of Crows is a phenomenal conclusion that brings back everything and more that we loved from its predecessor. There are two main strengths to this story: the characters and an unpredictable, winding plot. So lets focus on those two things.
Crooked Kingdom’s plot may be confined to Ketterdam, but the suspense is just as potent, if not more than that of Six of Crows. The stakes are higher. Inej has been kidnapped and Kaz seeks revenge after Jan Van Eck tricks the gang. As we all know now, no one double-crosses Kaz Brekker. Interestingly enough, there isn’t one big heist and strategy for this story. This time, there’s a string of schemes and actions that eventually boil up and spill over into one big BANG of an ending. Kaz’s cunning stratagems are a complex chain of events that can’t be predicted, even if you were a gifted fortune-teller. Bardugo kept me on my toes as the gang’s plans took us on a whirlwind of events that made us hold our breaths and constantly wonder if our favorite anti-heroes were going to make it out alive.
Besides the schemes, there are the characters. As I said before, ain’t none of these boys and girls saints. And the best part about these characters is that they are insanely flawed and they all have serious mental, emotional, and physical issues they must face.
Kaz is undoubtedly my favorite (though it was harder to choose than I thought). The lengths he is willing to go to in order to get what he wants is not only extreme but purely captivating. I never know what he is going to say or cook up next. And to be honest, Kaz isn’t a good guy. He’s crooked, and deceitful, and absolutely horrible with children, and yet, he’s easy to love. Despite his failures as a person, it’s hard to deny the complexity of his character. He has many demons and a troublesome phobia that prevents him from touching other people, but he still manages to save a little heart for Inej and goes so far as to treat her as his equal. I am in love with their romance and even though it didn’t advance in a traditional way, I thought it was a perfect ending for the two lovebirds, regardless.
As for Inej, she is a strong, independent anti-heroine who is easy to root for. I was insanely happy with how her character developed as she faced her fears following a period of slavery and sexual abuse. And her ending was much deserved and a long time coming. Nina is also a favorite of mine, as she too deals with her demons and drug addiction while maintaining her sass and charisma. It was amazing to see how she faced har addiction and became stronger in the process. Wylan is too cute and pure for words, and much too good for the company he keeps. His story is heartbreaking as it gives us insight into how his learning disability affected the course of his life. However, by the end, it seems he’s become fully immersed in the crooked underworld he sought to avoid.
Jesper is probably my second favorite character. His sunny disposition and witty remarks give me life and though he suffers from a gambling addiction and has made many mistakes in the past, he manages to partially redeem himself by the end. Side note: The interactions between him and Wylan are adorable and hilarious and all I could ever ask for. And then there’s Mathias. I didn’t really like Mathias in the first book, but Bardugo somehow managed to make me care very much for him by the end. His character development was by far the most surprising, but a pleasant surprise at least.
This book is gritty, and dark, and there are so many moments in which you fear for the characters’ lives. And rightfully so. It’s a dangerous game they’re playing, maybe even more dangerous than the first. It’d be foolish to believe everyone came out of this unscathed. Thankfully, there is just enough wit and humor to balance out the savagery and ruthlessness of the content. I was completely enthralled by the endless action and suspense along with the witty banter among the characters, particularly between Jesper and everybody he talked to. I love all the characters and I’m incredibly sad to say goodbye to them. But the ending promises some spinoffs so I guess I’ll just have to wait patiently to see some if not all of them again.
Until then: No mourners, no funerals.
“‘There are no good men in Ketterdam,’ Kaz said. ‘The climate doesn’t agree with them.'”
“I would have 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.”
“You aren’t a flower, you’re every blossom in the wood blooming at once. You are a tidal wave. You’re a stampede. You are overwhelming.”
“Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?”
“So?” said Kaz.
“Well, usually it’s just half the city.”
“You probably bartered your way out of the womb.”
“She righted herself, her balance returning. Had she really thought the world didn’t change? She was a fool. The world was made of miracles, unexpected earthquakes, storms that came from nowhere and might reshape a continent. The boy beside her. The future before her. Anything was possible.”