Book Review: Crooked Kingdom

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 asjurda 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.

Ok, seriously. Guys. I’ve already read Crooked Kingdom (obvs), but even just reading the synopsis again to post here gave me goosebumps. I LOVE THIS BOOK. I had my doubts, because the first installment of this duology, Six of Crows, took me a little bit to get into, and already had such white-knuckling, hand-wringing plot points as it progressed that I wondered how thrilling the second book could really get. But let me tell y’all: IT’S THRILLING.

The Good

I could say everything, but that would be cheating. And not entirely accurate. Because there’s one REALLY TERRIBLE THING that I still can’t fully believe happened, but I digress.

Unlike with Six of Crows, I was immediately sucked into Crooked Kingdom, because we pick up right where the first book left off. And it seems like when one problem is solved, another one presents itself RIGHT AWAY. No one has time to breathe, and if they do they’re probably sleeping off a bullet or knife wound or a literal punch to the face. And if you thought the heist at the Ice Court was huge, then just imagine that kind of complexity and urgency squeezed into minutes. Kaz seriously tops himself again and again regarding the plans he comes up with, and everyone else is at the top of their game as well.

Speaking of that, EVERY CHARACTER WAS AMAZING. I went to one of Leigh Bardugo’s tour stops in Chicago, and she said the main reason she wrote this duology as YA was because it was a coming-of-age story for each member of the gang, and I am behind that 100 percent. Each character had such great development: Kaz and Inej working through their PTSD; Matthias finally squashing the negativity in his head; Nina overcoming her parem withdrawal and finding strength in a new power; Jesper facing his inner demons and accepting his roots; and Wylan learning about his own self-worth and cutting the cord on his, er, daddy issues.

But honestly, I think Wylan had the best character growth out of anyone. He is now officially one of my favorite characters of all time. I loved getting more perspective from him, especially when he was busy saving the gang’s asses or flirting with Jesper. WHICH WAS CONSTANTLY. I’ve been a total WySper shipper ever since a certain moment at the Ice Court, but their relationship in Crooked Kingdom legit melts my little Grinch heart. They are so FREAKING CUTE.

Also, I’ve seen some people actually disliking Crooked Kingdom because Kaz isn’t “himself” in it, and personally I think that’s kinda messed up. He’s definitely as conniving, ruthless and overall dick-ish as he was in Six of Crows, but at the same time he is gradually becoming a real person with real feelings AND THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE A GOOD THING, GUYS, GEEZ.

The Bad

Really, the thing I’m calling bad isn’t as bad as it is sad. And now I feel like Dr. Seuss, but y’all get what I mean, right? It’s just that this thing feels super unfair, but at the same time makes the story seem more realistic, so I’m having a hard time coming to terms with my feelings. Without it, I’d be super content and totally non-agonized, but now that it exists I can see why people don’t want Crooked Kingdom to be the end of the gang’s story. I can’t really go into much more detail than that without getting spoilery, so I’ll just end this by saying brace yourselves. *slowly backs away while maintaining direct eye contact*

The Verdict

I really did love this book, and if you haven’t picked it or Six of Crows up yet, I highly recommend that you do. There is tons of action, the characters are relatable and oddly likable for being criminals, and it is just a really complex, well-thought out duology. I’ll probably be thinking of Kaz’s genius and WySper’s cuteness until the day I die, #realtalk.

Rating: ★★★★★

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