Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #2 (2/2)
Published by Orion Children’s Books on September 27, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy
4 Stars, Completed October 16, 2016
– read bold text only to avoid major SPOILERS –
Oh my gosh, I’m a little horrified that I waited over a year to finally write this review…
Crows remember human faces. They remember the people who feed them, who are kind to them. And the people who wrong them too. They don’t forget. They tell each other who to look after and who to watch out for.
Crooked Kingdom is the second and final installment to the Six of Crows duology. Kaz and his crew have just pulled a deadly heist. Instead of becoming wealthy and free after the mission as they had hoped, they find themselves scrambling to survive after been double crossed. It doesn’t help that they’re missing a member and strong forces are making a move on Ketterdem for the secrets of the dangerous drug jurda parem. But Kaz has a plan, and the team won’t stop until they get their revenge and redemption.
As it’s been a while since I’ve read Crooked Kingdom I won’t go into too many specifics but instead share what lasting thoughts that still remain since I’ve picked the sequel up. From what I can recall, I was very upset by the ending of Crooked Kingdom due to a certain event that happens near the end. (A ship sunk and my heart broke because of that. In fact, I believe I fell into a reading slump soon after completing this series.)
However the deduction of a star had nothing to do with how this installment wrapped up. This ending was better because of it, in my opinion. I wasn’t happy but it felt realistic and believable (however much readers want to deny it). Plus, to be completely honest, I’ve never been one for all the characters to get a HEA or finding their significant other. As much as it’s appealing it’s not exactly reflective of real life in my opinion. Not everything goes as planned.
Instead, my rating is based off of the fact that I did find the pacing a tad slow for the first third of the book and the last half to be extremely fast paced (maybe even a little rushed). I find this interesting because this was the very detail I nitpicked about the Grisha trilogy in 2015 (re: Bardugo’s pacing).
I also thought the Grisha magic (with Nina) was too conveniently placed and not explained enough for my liking. I’m thrilled that this was refreshingly a duology, but I would have opted to read a third book if the mythology or background of Nina’s abilities were better explained.
However, what I did like was that this book didn’t skip a beat on continuing from where the events end from book one. I know some prefer a refresher but I liked that this one didn’t waste time and jumped straight into the cliffhanger-ish conclusion of Six of Crows.
“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”
The romantic relationships grow a lot within this one but I would still say they all remained as slowburns, which is perfectly fine and actually refreshing for YA. The themes of companionship, friendship, and loyalty appeared to be emphasized more.
“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.
I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of reading about the main 6 in general though. I’ve certainly missed them since finishing this series.
“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.”
The setting and city of Ketterdam itself is one of my favorite aspects of this novel and series. In hindsight, the crime and corruption bits could have perhaps been even darker but as it was also gave an image so different from other fantasy series that I’ve read and experienced before.
Anyway, because of these few drawbacks I couldn’t put aside I didn’t quite enjoy this as much as the first book admittedly.
Maybe there were people who lived those lives. Maybe this girl was one of them. But what about the rest of us? What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary. That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.
Although, with that being said, Crooked Kingdom is still a brilliant sequel and finale to one the best YA series out there. The cast is unforgettable and the adventure is intriguing and fun. Needless to say, I highly, highly recommend this duology.