Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: September 27th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
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 left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, 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 magic in the Grisha world.
Summary from Goodreads.com
My Review: Crooked Kingdom. I am not even sure I can put into words how much I love this duology. They are just in a league of their own in the YA fantasy world. The characters are all so well developed, diverse and relatable. The heists they pull off are clever, planned out and always keep you guessing. And the world itself is amazing, with its rich detail, Ketterdam becomes another character in the plot because of the significant role it plays in Crooked Kingdom and we also get a map of it at the beginning of the novel which I found myself turning to constantly to see exactly where the characters were.
Crooked Kingdom picks up right where we left off in Six of Crows, with Kaz and crew trying to get Inej and their money back. It is the same format as well, switching points of view to get a well-rounded story and different aspects of each scheme as it is being pulled off so you can see it from all angles which I loved. It is very Ocean’s Eleven with almost a steampunk element thrown in which was just fascinating to me. There were several jobs pulled off throughout the duration of this 500 plus page novel and while I figured out some aspects of the jobs, I was left amazed at Bardugo’s ability to write such excellent twists into each one. She does an amazing job of having you look one way, when the real action is happening somewhere else. You would think I would have figured out their tricks by now, but they still had a couple up their sleeves every now and then that I did not see coming at all and I love that about this book!
I also enjoyed how the backstory of the characters continues to expand and the way it was interweaved in to the jobs themselves as they were being pulled off. Inej might be in the middle of jumping from rooftop to rooftop and we learned about her family and how she learned to start walking on wires. It was done so brilliantly that I did not feel a lull in the story, I was eager to learn more about the characters and found myself wanting more from each one. That is what I will miss the most about these books, the people in them. I loved each person so much, I want to know more about their lives in the future and in the past. I am hoping that Leigh will come back to this world someday so we can dive even further into their lives once more.
The only element that I did have a small issue with were the references to the Ruin and Rising series. In Six of Crows, those references are there, but it was very easy to navigate through that book even if you did not understand some of the characters they were referring too. In Crooked Kingdom, I felt like I was missing things because I had not finished that other series by Leigh. I read the first book, so I had some understanding of that world, but I have not read books two and three and I felt like if I had I would have been less confused at some moments in the story. I will eventually go back and read the other books, but I wish I did not feel like I needed to in order to follow along with everything that took place in Crooked Kingdom.
Kaz Brekkar. Let’s be honest here, he is the biggest draw for me to read these books. He might just be one of my favorite characters in any book and the best written one. He is simply amazing. I loved the way he thinks, his sense of humor, his loyalty (even though he would say he had none) and just everything about him. I wish I could take him out of the book so we could be friends, although I do not think I would be of use to him so he might not care to be my friend, ha! Either way, I will miss being inside his head and in his world. This quote is my favorite one from this book describing Kaz’s character:
“Everything is a negotiation with you, Brekker. You probably bartered your way out of the womb.”
The ending of this book was nothing short of spectacular, it had everything I have come to expect from this world and many twists that kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see how it would all play out. I will truly miss being with these characters and the ending was left open enough that Leigh could easily come back and add more to this world, and I sincerely hope she does. This book may be classified as YA but it could (and should) be read by adults as well. Very well written, great characters and great heists. If you don’t like these books I will secretly judge you because they will forever be on my favorite lists. Leigh Bardugo is an amazing writer and I will definitely be keeping an eye on her to see what she decides to write next.