Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Oh man, I am so glad to have bought the box set for this duology, because how this book ends, I would have driven myself crazy if I had to wait for Crooked Kingdom to ship.
I’ve always wanted to read this book. Ever since everyone and their mother in the book community started raving about it, hyping it up, I wanted in on the action, too. But I hesitated. Because the hype was strong, every time I came across it in a store like Target, I’d pick it up off the shelf, read the back, the flap, and admire the cover and fall in love with the colored page edges, only to set it back down and walk away. I didn’t want to read a book whose hype would have been my driving force.
So, I waited. And waited… and waited some more. I guess I was waiting for the hype to die down, and while it hasn’t completely, I think it’s died down enough to where I can read this book without feeling the pressure of every reader who loved it on my shoulders. I know, I know. That’s not healthy reading, but it’s how I felt at the time, and it’s what I’ve come to learn about the book community, especially on YouTube. And especially when a book is loved across the board (not everyone who’s read Six of Crows liked it, but they seem to few and far between, not that there’s anything wrong with it; we like what we like).
Anyway, it’s safe to say that I understand why this book got hyped up, and how it remains hyped. I loved the book, truly. According to my Goodreads, I started reading it on December 22, but I didn’t get fully immersed into it until New Year’s weekend when the Holiday BookTubeAThon took place. I figured that I’d join in without a TBR of books that fit the three challenges, but with this one because now that I wasn’t so busy, I was able to to sit down and really delve into the story. I didn’t finish the book by midnight on New Year’s Day, but I came pretty damned close and ended up finishing it late January 1. I wrote a lengthy review of it on Goodreads, but something happened and only one, flimsy line made the cut and the five or six paragraphs that I had typed on my phone had somehow disappeared.
So, the book takes place in an alternate Nethlands, from what I gathered from previous readers. I knew it was supposed to be somewhere where Dutch is most commonly spoken, as there’s a lot of Dutch words in the book that I couldn’t even pronounce, so in my head I just substituted it with my own gibberish. Or I’d attempt it (in my head), butcher it severely, and then substitute it with my own gibberish. If I had to choose a foreign language to read in a YA-novel, I’d have chosen French because I took three years of it in high school.
I found the writing fantastic. Leigh Bardugo is a new author to me, but the more I kept reading, the more addicted I became to her words and couldn’t put the book down. And then to read in her acknowledgements that Kaz was a loosely-based representation of her, at least in regards to his leg, because she suffers from a bone condition that I can’t remember the name of, made me admire her even more. I’m impressed by how much research went into this book, and the maps at the front are a nice touch. I love little details like that. It’s cool.
Now, for the characters…
Kaz quickly became a favorite of mine. While all the characters had very obvious flaws, Kaz is the one I gravitated to the most (and first), because I guess I love broken characters who are in denial of being broken. Or, in Kaz’s case, broken characters who know they’re broken, acknowledge that they’re broken, but have no hope of any kind of redemption and move through life with a mask on in place to hide their brokenness from others. And really, I don’t think I want redemption for Kaz. Thanks to the flashbacks of every character, you get a better sense of how each of the six members came to be who they are today, and if neither of them would change anything, then I won’t, either. But Kaz is my favorite because I like broken things.
Inej I kind of saw a little bit of myself in her, mostly in how silent she is in her role as The Wraith, and I’ll be honest: she’s probably why I love Kaz so much, because she let herself love him, too, despite trying to do everything so she didn’t. The heart wants what the heart wants, and Inej’s line to Kaz about, “I’ll have you with no armor, or I won’t have you at all,” probably paraphrasing, is my favorite line that she’s spoken in the entire book.
Nina is another character that I semi-related to, if only because every single lewd thing she said, usually to Matthias because she enjoys watching him squirm, is often what goes on inside my own head. I loved how she used her body to entice, to control, but didn’t abuse her power. Kind of made me envious of her, if I’m being honest. And what she did to help the crew get back to the ship, I was just as worried as Matthias, because we know how she felt about the jurda parem, and what it could possibly do to people of her kind, yet she did what she believed was the only thing that could be done at the time while being scared shitless of becoming addicted.
Jesper… Jesper is… still a bit of a mystery to me. After two days of digesting what I’ve read, I still don’t know what to make of him. All I will say is that I was enjoying his flirting with Wylan, mostly because two men together makes me ridiculously happy for some reason, and I hate that Wylan may never look how he used to thanks to Nina (or, really, thanks to Kaz for telling Nina what to do while on jurda parem), but being two chapters into Crooked Kingdom, it looks like things will be permanent. I hope the further along I read that I’m wrong, but… I don’t know.
Matthias… he’s probably my next favorite character, mostly because I think he’s had the biggest development throughout the book. All the characters have had developments, but Matthias’ was probably the most obvious, because he had to come to terms with becoming a true traitor to his country, as well as dealing with his feelings towards Nina. He had to come to grips with basically erasing what he’d been taught about her people, and people like her, to what he knew in regards to Nina. It’s a huge change for someone to go through when they’re taught to hate a people because of what they can do. It just goes to show that hate, no matter to whom it’s directed at — race, religion, creed, or sexuality — it stems from fear. Fear of the unknown, ignorance. Matthias had to reconcile what he’d been told with what he’s learned, and I don’t doubt that that was easy for him, but it made me proud.
I loved the idea of a heist, too. From the planning, to Kaz’s “scheming” face, to the execution of it and all the unexpected twists and turns and things falling apart only to come back together… it made for an intriguing read, and kept me gripped to the pages until the very end. And then when I got to that action-packed ending, I had to stop myself from picking up the second and final book in the duology because it was after eleven at night on January 1, so I only let myself read one chapter. Now, that I’m onto Crooked Kingdom, I’m curious to find out how this next heist goes (or rescue mission, as it were), and I won’t lie, I’m itching to go back to it, so let me start to end this review before it gets longer than I had originally planned.
While Six of Crows is a 4.5-star read for me (I think I took off half point because my copy had some grammar errors), I still bumped it to 5-stars because I really couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I hear that it’s even better the second time around, so as soon as enough time passes, I can’t wait to see if it rings true.