Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom Leigh Bardugo
Crooked Kingdom Leigh Bardugo Six Of Crows cover

Title: Crooked Kingdom 
Author: Leigh Bardugo 
Series: Six Of Crows #2 
Genre: Fantasy, YA 
Publication date: September 27, 2016 
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ 

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 left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, 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 magic in the Grisha world.


WHEN YOU CAN'T BEAT THE ODDS, CHANGE THE GAME.

I’ve been putting off writing this review for weeks now. It’s almost been a month since I read Crooked Kingdom. So why haven’t I? Because I honestly didn’t know how to start. Still don’t, actually. But here goes anyway. 

This book has caused such a riot in my heart. Feelings fighting each other, struggling to gain the upper hand and failing. Every time a winner seemed to emerge, it got brutally crushed by yet another emotion joining the battle. I’m still not sure just how to feel about everything. I guess that’s what happens when it’s a bunch of thugs holding your fragile heart in their hands.

No mourners, no funerals. Another way of saying good luck. But it was something more. A dark wink to the fact that there would be no expensive burials for people like them, no marble markers to remember their names, no wreaths of myrtle and rose.

This book was brilliant. A rare piece of perfection that will forever haunt my heart. After finishing Six Of Crows, I finally read the Grisha trilogy. Leigh Bardugo’s writing style has always been exceptionally compelling, but the jump in quality between The Grisha and Six Of Crows (and now Crooked Kingdom) is almost ridiculous. This second book has more than 500 hundred pages and every single one kept me on the edge of my seat. It starts exactly where Six Of Crows left off and the story never slacks. It’s tense, it’s thrilling, captivating, completely nerve-wrecking and equally heart-wrenching. This duology will forever be at the top of my favourite list, despite all the pain and anxiety it caused me.

How many times have you told me you're a monster? So be a monster. Be the thing they all fear when they close their eyes at night.

And Kaz Brekker might just have become my all-time favourite character. Or a shared first place at least. He may have ruined every male character ever for me. He is not swoonworthy, breathtaking or stunning. Not sweet, charming or even friendly. Instead he is cold, arrogant, distant and absolutely ruthless. He has touched my heart in ways no other character ever has before. Maybe it’s because of everything he is that I got so attached to him. Maybe it’s the unfairness of it all. Because for every cruel thing he is, you can always count on him to be honest, to find a way out, to save them all. He’s extremely clever, the king of all plans, awesome as hell, full of suppressed feelings, a victim of terrible circumstances, under-appreciated and trying so , so damn hard. *sobs* 

“He was going to break my legs ,” she said, her chin held high, the barest quaver in her voice. “Would you have come for me then, Kaz? When I couldn’t scale a wall or walk a tightrope? When I wasn’t the Wraith anymore?”Dirtyhands would not. The boy who could get them through this, get their money, keep them alive, would do her the courtesy of putting her out of her misery, then cut his losses and move on.“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 rest of the gang highjacked my heartstrings in similar ways. I love Inej so much. The cruelties that girl has endured, her bravery, the strength she shows, her ability to always keep going and the trust she and Kaz share is really admirable and tragic at the same time. Jesper and Wylan made my eyes water multiple times. Tears of laughter. They’re absolutely hilarious and perfect at lightening the dark mood. But that’s not all there is to them. They too have painful histories, their own hopes to fight for. Nina, Matthias… Life has been so demanding on all of them and yet they soldier on. There is so much depth to every single one of the crew and the relations between them become so well-developed I’m left in awe. Oh, these six.

Crows remember human faces. They remember the people who feed them, who are kind to them. And the people who wrong them too. They don’t forget. They tell each other who to look after and who to watch out for.

The plot is rock hard solid. It’s brutal, but in a perfect kind of way. Everything that could have possibly gone wrong, went wrong. Every thing they tried, backfired. I was constantly agitated and I swear I felt like strangling multiple people most of the time. It’s such a clever plot. Unpredictable, ever-changing, creative and full of honest emotions. Kaz got out-kaz’ed, Inej lost her balance, Jesper was losing it… Leigh Bardugo is a terrifying, merciless puppeteer, but I feel only gratitude for this masterpiece she created. 

What about the rest of us? What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary. That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.

Don’t fear, all of this gets lightened by the fantastic sense of humour we’ve come to expect and a couple of really heartwarming moments between the characters. Just the right amount of feel-good to soothe the gaping hole in my chest.

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.

THERE IS ALSO A REALLY APPRECIATED SURPRISE APPEARANCE. My favourite Grisha character suddenly showed up and got involved with the crew. I may have squealed. Very distinctly. In a really public place. NO REGRETS. 

In many ways reading Crooked Kingdom has left me hollow and sad inside. It hits you in the gut and it hits you hard. Leaving you gasping for air. But in the end I guess we all knew it never could have gone any differently. The ending is sort of perfect. I can admit that, when I’m not crying over how sad I am that it’s over. It’s not exactly a happy ending (Kaz was never going to get one), but it’s a more or less hopeful one and that’s already more than we could have ever asked for… I just wish there was more. I am not nearly ready to say goodbye. 

“At some point, Jesper realized Kaz was gone.
"Not one for goodbyes, is he?" he muttered.
"He doesn't say goodbye," Inej said. She kept her eyes on the lights of the canal. Somewhere in the garden, a night bird began to sing. "He just lets go.”

And that’s what we should do now. “Let go.”

Thank you, Leigh. For everything.

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2 comments:

  1. I feel so bad for not having read Six of Crows yet. Other books keep getting in the way.

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    Replies
    1. I know the feeling of books getting in the way, BUT DROP EVERYTHING YOU'RE HOLDING AND START READING IT NOW! I personally thought this one was even better than Six Of Crows.

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