Crooked Kingdom was probably one of my most anticipated reads of 2016. I actually read it the day it came out, although I did not review it until now because I was waiting for my preorder swag. After Six of Crows, especially that ending, I was just so ready for this book. And let me tell you: it did not disappoint, for here it is on a Fangirl Favorites Friday!!!! I mean, you see the panda, so you know what that means: this book made it onto my all-time favorites list. This review is super long because there is no other way to express my feelings here. In order for me to fully fangirl, I’ve included a spoiler section below. My review will be understandable without the spoilers. If you’ve read this book already or just don’t care about spoilers (How? Teach me your ways!), then there will be blue numbers that correspond to spoilery comments below. Hope that’s not too confusing! Think of it as a mini scavenger hunt.
*SPOILERS for Six of Crows* Kaz and his crew have just pulled off perhaps one of the greatest heists, so risky that even they didn’t think they’d live. However, instead of living like kings and queens, they’re fighting for their lives again as they have been double-crossed. A valuable member of the team is stolen, and resources, allies, and hope are low. As powerful forces from all around the world converge on Ketterdam to find out the secrets of the new and dangerous drug, jurda parem, enemies on all sides challenge Kaz’s scheming mind and the frail loyalty of the crew. A war will be waged-one that will determine the fate of magic in Grisha world.
Unlike Six of Crows, this book did not have a particularly linear plot. Six of Crows was mainly built around the one Ice Court heist. It kind of looked like this: (picture of line). On the other hand, Crooked Kingdom kind of looked like a cosine graph: (picture of cosine graph). There were definitely many highs and lows, a lot of twists, and it felt a bit murky. I don’t mind a murky plot, and indeed, I love surprises in books. However, I wasn’t really expecting this given the ways of Six of Crows (see above imaginary graphs). There was a lot of mini plots and schemes by everyone everywhere, but they all string together to create one heart-stopping ride.
In my opinion, Crooked Kingdom was more character driven. There was a lot more about relationships: not just romantic, although that certainly plays a huge part, but friendships, family relationships, national relationships, and even business relationships. In light of this, let’s begin with the characters. First of all, let’s talk Kaz. In the first book, Kaz has a definite armor and is stone cold. After all, “when everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing monstrous things.” However, in this book, we see the different sides of Kaz. Yes, he still does monstrous things, 1 but he also begins to show that he actually cares about his crows, one crow in particular. 2 Inej was already such a beautiful character, but we start to see even more of her backstory, especially the consequences of being stuck in a pleasure house. In Six of Crows, she was also portrayed as an almost invulnerable character, full of so much strength that she is able to overcome everything, but in Crooked Kingdom we see her falter for perhaps the first time ever. It was beautiful to see the process of her and Kaz truly starting to fall in love and realize the depth of their feelings.3 Inej’s friendship with Nina is also a beautiful thing. The two are just friendship goals, although I do wish they had more scenes together. In Crooked Kingdom, we see Nina grappling with the unintended consequences of consuming the jurda parem. It’s not easy for her to accept what’s happened to her, and this book really explored Nina’s weaknesses more, especially how far she was willing to go for Ravka. 4 She and Matthias were just so sweet together. I loved seeing them work out their love, especially what it meant to be in love with someone you were taught to hate from a very young age. I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t loooove Matthias in the first book, but I think he truly went through a lot of growth here, especially in trying to understand where Nina was coming from. 5 Last but certainly not least, my favorite couple: WESPER! Okay, first of all, I’m so glad Wylan got his own POV. He was almost refreshing, and I loved seeing his gradual acceptance of who he was. If possible, I now adore him even more. He and Jesper are just goals! For all my talk about growth though, I truly think Jesper had the most change. We finally got to see more of his backstory, and that made him even more sympathetic. 6
Of course, Crooked Kingdom would not be complete without the witty banter. There are so many parts that made me happy! 7 (and sad and heartbroken and angry, but let’s not go there.) I highly recommend reading the Grisha trilogy before Crooked Kingdom though because there are some Grisha trilogy spoilers though. All in all, Crooked Kingdom is simply amazing and you must go read it now!!!!
- That scene with Hannah in the first part left me with chills!
- Remember, and I quote, “I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.” There is such a progression from Inej having to bargain with Kaz like that to “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.”
- The scene where the two of them are confessing how much touch from other people, especially in more intimate places, bothers them, is so touching and heartbreaking and almost inspiring all at the same time.
- The appearances of Tamar, Zoya, Genya, and Nikolai made me so happy!!!! I missed the Grisha trilogy crew.
- Then of course, as soon as I was truly in love with him and fully on board the Nina/Matthias ship, he had to go and die. Seriously! Although I didn’t actually cry, I was very close to tears. I mean, I know it’s Leigh Bardugo and she had to destroy our hearts, but why couldn’t someone like Van Eck or Rollins die? I think what hurt me the most was thinking about how devastated Nina must be. Although I think she and Nikolai might make a good couple…
- Jesper’s father making an appearance made me very happy. I felt really bad for him and Jesper though because I wasn’t sure if their relationship would survive. Also, the nickname Jes makes me very happy. Although, seriously Jesper? You can’t tell that you’re not kissing the guy you love but instead his double? Also, by this point I was getting very mad at Kuwei Yul-bo. He was being very annoying and attempting to break up my OTP and just grrrrr.
- Alys Van Eck and her singing driving the crew mad was just priceless. I couldn’t stop laughing!!! I also really really really need Leigh to write about Jesper’s presentation on oil when they are setting up Kuwei’s auction. I feel like it would be hilarious! The Wyvil part was so cute too!
Let’s face it. I’m in love with anything and everything Leigh Bardugo writes, but especially the Six of Crows duology. I think I can officially call myself obsessed. Also, if you made it all the way down here, you’re a champion! This review is more than 1300 words, and I think I haven’t written something this long since my Song of Achilles review. Maybe not even then.