I was going to call this a review, but let’s be real here, this is pretty much a fan-girl moment.
Without giving away any spoilers to Six of Crows (if you haven’t read SoC, YOU SHOULD!!!!) Six of Crows went broad, Crooked Kingdom went deep. Not only did Bardugo amplify the characters’ internal lives and dilemmas but she also delved deep even deeper into the setting– Ketterdam, a city filled with inequity, crime and cash.
Kaz Brekker and his crew return for another daring heist with bigger stakes, fewer resources. But this time, the consequences of their failure dwarf lost funds and reputation. Turns of events and shifting alliances foil the Crew’s best laid plans time and time again even as time is running out.
Characters & Themes:
Bardugo’s efforts to create characters with depth is even more apparent in Crooked Kingdom. While Six of Crows introduced several distinctive characters and hinted at their backstory, the book overall still felt more like a high-stakes heist novel. Though each character had different motivations for joining the crew, and different roles, the members depended upon one another mainly to reach their goal.
Crooked Kingdom, in contrast, focused more on friendships and personal relationships within the crew. The arc of the story depended more on character’s moments of introspection. This, for me, made Crooked Kingdom a perfect companion for Six of Crows. Bardugo didn’t simply jot down another heist novel (though one could hardly “jot down” a novel that requires as much planning as a heist). No, she introduced new themes, changed the dynamics within the crew, and added history to better frame character’s motivations and development. These moments of vulnerability and self-doubt; of epiphanies and acceptance; of fear and hope strengthened the relationships forged in Six of Crows.
Fear– its presence and overcoming it– was an undeniable theme in this book, as was sacrifice, both for the greater good and as a result of change. Each character had to confront their past and present fears or prejudices in the course of the book. They all needed rediscover or choose what defined in order for the crew to succeed.
While Bardugo pulled the world and characters of Crooked Kingdom from her imagination, the lessons, dilemmas and themes in this story echo those found in modern events in our own world. This book reminded me of the power of stories to reflect humanity in all of its complexity and to push us in the real world to question our situation and our society.
To put it plainly: I adore this story. I love the characters. Their interactions with each other, and with their world, felt authentic and genuine. I haven’t cried upon finishing a book in years, but I cried at the end of this one.
On top of all this, Leigh Bardugo seems like an amazing human.Loving art is made so much easier when the artist is a decent human being. I give myself three months before I re-read the books. I fully expect to cry again.
For a more in depth Book discussion– fraught with spoilers– check back here next week!
BUT ALSO, SERIOUSLY, READ THIS BOOK. THEN FAN-GIRL WITH ME IN THE COMMENTS. If you wanna, or whatever, I mean.