Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows, #2
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: September 27th 2016
When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.
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 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 the Grisha world.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
At the end of Six of Crows, although Kaz and the others are beaten, they are not down for good. After being betrayed by Van Eck, losing Inej and the thirty million they were promised, Kaz is already planning his revenge. He doesn’t just want his Wraith back but he wants the money they were promised and the chance to destroy Van Eck, to show him he messed with the wrong people. Hiding from both the Dregs and the Merchants Kaz is ready to put the first part of his plan into motion, to get Inej back.
Despite not being at their best – with Wylan still wearing Kuwei’s face, Nina still struggling through the withdrawal symptoms of taking jurda parem, and Jesper on Kaz’s bad side after betraying them – they are still more than enough to take on Van Eck. While Van Eck struggles to stay one step ahead Kaz proves why he is the best, and why he will always be better than Van Eck. Every move Van Eck makes Kaz has already anticipated. However there is one thing he cannot plan for and that is the arrival of the deadly Shu who are kidnapping Grisha off the streets.
After they liberated Kuwei from the Ice Court all the different nations chased them back to Ketterdam; the Fjerdan’s, the Shu and the Ravkan’s. All of them want Kuwei and the knowledge he has of jurda parem and that puts Kaz’s crew in a dangerous place, trapped with the whole city hunting them down.
There’s not much more I can say without spoiling this book, which I really don’t want to do. Six of Crows was an amazing story but Crooked Kingdom completely knocks it out the water. The stakes are higher but back on their home turf Kaz, Inej, Matthias, Nina, Jesper and Wylan have the advantage. There were times in this book I worried about what would come next, it seemed impossible for them to anticipate every move Van Eck would make, but just when I thought there was no way out I was proved wrong.
Kaz knows it was his small glance at Inej that tipped Van Eck’s hand and lost him his Wraith, and now he is determined to do everything he can to not only get Inej back but tip the scales of power back in his direction. He tries distancing himself from Inej and his emotions at first, realising it was his feelings for her that caused them all the trouble at the end of Six of Crows, but despite that he still tries to protect her so much more than the other gang members.
Inej is still one of my favourite characters. She remains strong while captive by Van Eck and doesn’t wait for Kaz to find her before trying to make her own way out. Inej and Kaz are like two halves of one person. They work so well together and when it comes down to it Inej is the only person Kaz will fully trust at his back. They aren’t fully open with each other, Kaz still can’t touch her without his gloves, but they share all their secrets.
Nina is suffering after taking jurda parem at the end of the first book. She tries to stay strong but there are times when the cravings get the better of her. Still Nina is a proud person; she refuses to admit that she struggles with using her powers without the drug, and maintains that she is fine when in reality she hadn’t eaten properly in days. I loved Nina’s friendship with Inej. The two are very different characters but they clearly care about one another, evident when Inej is returned to the gang and when Inej stands up to Kaz for Nina.
Matthias changes so much in this book. In the first he still held himself away from the others, away from Nina, as if thinking he was better than them because he still honoured his old gods and his old nation. In this book he seems to become fully dedicated to the others and their mission. He realises that maybe the ways the Fjerdans have used to change the world aren’t the right ways, and instead he becomes dedicated to Nina the same way he was dedicated to his people.
Jesper was one of the characters I didn’t really connect with in the first book, he was just the sharpshooter who inadvertently betrayed Kaz. In this book he is given much more development. When his father arrives in Ketterdam Jesper is forced to face the consequences of his actions in gambling so much and borrowing against his father’s farm. His two worlds are colliding and with the Shu after him he is also forced to acknowledge the Grisha powers he’s worked so hard to hide.
Wylan didn’t have any POV chapters in the last book so like Jesper I never really connected to him, in this book that all changes. Wylan’s relationship with his father is full of hatred and disappointment. We see what happened that led him to the Dregs and Kaz’s crew, we see the depth of the hatred Van Eck has for his son and the lengths he will go to to get what he wants. Wylan is a brilliant character, incredibly smart but he discounts all that because he thinks that fact that he can’t read accounts for more.
I loved the dynamic between all the characters. Kaz was the leader of the group and the brains behind their plans but his plans always need all of them to pull their weight, work together, and force themselves past their limits. In the first book the six of them were forced together for the money but in the second book they become a team, choosing to work together due to their dedication to the other five.
Six of Crows took us all over the world Leigh Bardugo created in this series and the Grisha trilogy, and we were introduced to different countries and cultures. Crooked Kingdom however takes a step back and focuses on Ketterdam, which I actually enjoyed reading a lot more. Ketterdam is dark and dirty; it’s where Kaz, Inej and Jesper were shaped into the criminals they are and came together as members of the Dregs. It’s where Kaz is creating his empire, it’s where Wylan fled from his father, and it’s where Nina and Matthias have been trapped, but it’s where all of them have the upper ground. Unlike at the Ice Court there was no need to second guess their movements for fear of getting caught. Instead they know the underworld better than Van Eck and it enables them to take him down.
This book was amazing, heartbreaking, addictive and terrifying all at the same time; basically it had everything that made Crooked Kingdom my top read of 2016. I couldn’t put this book down, especially when I reached the last few chapters and the climax of the story.
If you haven’t read this book, or read this duology even, what are you waiting for? Run out and pick up a copy because you don’t know what you’re missing.
What did you think of Crooked Kingdom? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.