Title: Crooked Kingdom
Series: Six of Crows #2
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: September 20th, 2016 (Henry Holt & Company)
Synopsis: Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts 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.
“Fear is a phoenix.
You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”
Having pulled off an impossible heist, Kaz and his crew ought to be swimming in their hard earned money. But double-crossed by Van Eck, Inej has now been taken captive in an attempt to get them to turn over Kuwei Yul-Bo. Worse yet, the knowledge of the jurda parem’s existence has spread and everyone is after its secrets. It seems that all of Ketterdam is against them now, but Kaz is not one to give up and concocts his most complicated plot yet – to rescue Inej, get their 30 million kruge and ultimately take down Van Eck’s entire empire.
“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.”
Every time I read this book, it takes me ages to get started, because I know what’s coming, and yet, I can’t wait to read it and put myself through that entire emotional journey again. Crooked Kingdom was an absolute roller coaster of a read as the stakes seem to climb higher with every page. The intricacy with which Leigh Bardugo has crafted this tale is truly amazing.
“Have any of you wondered what I did with all
the cash Pekka Rollins gave us?”
“Guns?” asked Jesper.
“Ships?” queried Inej.
“Bombs?” suggested Wylan.
“Political bribes?” offered Nina. They all looked at Matthias.
“This is where you tell us how awful we are,” she whispered.
He shrugged. “They all seem like practical choices.”
Kaz – while we previously got a glimpse of the boy beneath his carefully crafted persona, it is in this book that his human side becomes evident through his interactions with the crew and in particular, Inej. What I admire most about Kaz is how he always seems to be one step ahead, and seeing the schemes within his schemes unravel is truly a delight. It also makes for a nail-biting read wondering when he is going to run out of tricks. And Inej – it was so heartbreaking when she was held captive by Van Eck in what was probably her worst nightmare scenario! It really serves to show just how strong she has become though, finally making the decisions she has toyed with for so long.
It was really nice to get to know the characters and their backstories better, particularly Jesper and Wylan. Jesper’s past explained so much about him and his restless nature. And talking about characters finding their inner strength, the best example is definitely Wylan. He’s come a long way from the uncertain boy in Six of Crows, taking Kaz’s advice to better himself. Nina’s encounter with the parem has left her with a terrible addiction and you can’t help but feel sorry for her as she bravely fights it, somehow still managing to be optimistic throughout it all. I think it’s best if I don’t talk about Matthias because I’d have to end the review right here if I start. After that amazing character arc and how far he has come – just why?! 😭😭😭
The ending of Crooked Kingdom, without giving away anything, can only be described as bittersweet. I saw from Goodreads that there may potentially be a third book to the series, but I hope it’s not true. While this was no happily ever after, the story is well and truly resolved. This series is storytelling at its best and there is literally nothing I can find to criticize about it. Though this is by no means a small read, there wasn’t a single page or event that felt superfluous, and the exquisitely crafted twists and plots kept the tension in this book at an all time high. This may have started as a heist story, but it evolved into so much more, bringing together a group of people who couldn’t be more different, and taking them on an epic journey as they learn to accept and trust in each other, forming a bond that stayed strong even as the world seemed to turn against them. Crooked Kingdom is an absolute masterpiece and it was every bit as grand and breath-taking as I expected. Highly, highly recommended!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
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