Title: “Crooked Kingdom”
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pages (hardcover): 546 pages
Original Publishing Date: 20 September 2016
Synopsis (from the inside flap):
“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.”
Trigger warnings for the novel:
- violence and gore (throughout the novel)
- talk of past trauma (throughout the novel)
- character death (pg. 494)
I’m dead. This book killed me in all the best ways. If you thought Six of Crows was tense, then wait until you read Crooked Kingdom. There are jobs on jobs, and when one goes to shit, Kaz thinks of another one.
Crooked Kingdom takes place shortly after Six of Crows (a few weeks, I believe?). Not only do Kaz and the crew have to get Inej back from Van Eck, but they also have to get their money they were due from the Ice Court job. The latter job, of course, soon becomes intense, and you don’t know what’s going to be around the corner.
I loved so many things about this book. Like Six of Crows, it’s split up into chapters from the point of view from everyone in the crew. And I mean everyone — including Wylan! Wylan’s backstory was so interesting to learn about, and I loved his character development throughout the novel. I really enjoyed Jesper’s backstory as well.
The relationships between everyone were handled well, too. Not just the romantic ones, either; the platonic relationships between everyone in the crew were great, too. Everyone (mostly) trusted one another, and despite the dire circumstances, they still found humor in things. And, fun fact, I laughed out loud multiple times throughout the novel.
One of the things I really enjoyed, possibly more than anything else, was the way trauma was dealt with throughout the book. Bit of a disclaimer, I haven’t experienced any sort of trauma before, so my opinion on this should hold little weight. But I feel like I should say something about it anyway. Of course, if I got something wrong, absolutely feel free to tell me! Anyway, I thought that the way the characters’ trauma was addressed was good. It wasn’t a sort of one and done thing; it was brought up several times in a (what I thought was) a respectful and meaningful way, and it was nice to see that it wasn’t a “lesson” for the readers to learn regarding trauma. Instead, it was just…there. It was simply a part of the characters and their development, and I appreciate that.
But I think one of the biggest issues I had with Crooked Kingdom was the length of the book. It was nearly 100 pages longer than Six of Crows, and I’m still not sure if the extra length is a good thing or a bad thing. It was probably because I started reading it during the end of the semester, so I didn’t have much time to read, which resulted in it feeling longer. I’ll have to read it again when I’m not as busy, so I can get a true feel of whether or not it’s too long.
Okay, I have one last thing that I have an issue with, but it’s full of spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled for the book, then skip past the line break until the next line break. Just a fair warning for those who haven’t read the book yet!
AGAIN, IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, DO NOT READ UNTIL THE NEXT LINE BREAK.
So, yeah, I do have another issue with Crooked Kingdom, and it is most definitely Matthias’ death. I was heartbroken when Nina found him, absolutely. I was so excited to think about what they were going to do after they received their money, what they could accomplish, and then that was wretched away from me like it was for Nina. It was horrible. And, usually, I have no issue with character deaths if done well. There have been a lot of character deaths that totally gutted me, but they made sense, and they fit the story.
Matthias’ death did none of that for me. It was super anti-climatic, and it felt like it was just plopped in the book for the sake of a main character dying and another main character being sad over it. It seemed like it was a last-minute thing to try and make the novel seem darker, I guess? But…it just didn’t work for me. I was sad because it happened, but I’m also annoyed because it didn’t really feel necessary or part of the plot or any of that. It felt like an afterthought of, “Well, no one’s died yet, so who’s the easiest to kill off….Matthias!” I don’t know, I guess his death didn’t feel legitimate to me. It felt like it was there for the prior reasons, as well as just for shock factor.
END OF SPOILERS
So, yeah, outside of that, I really enjoyed Crooked Kingdom.
How about you guys? What did you love and not-so-love about Crooked Kingdom and the Six of Crows duology as a whole?
Until next time~