I know, I’m a bit late to the party, as Six of Crows came out in 2015 and reviews were raving. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I wasn’t sure if I could read the Crow books separately. It turns out, this is no problem at all so I bought Six of Crows and its sequel Crooked Kingdom, since everybody is loving these books. And I totally understand why, because wow! These books rock! So first, here is my Six of Crows review. I will make a separate review for Crooked Kingdom later.
So, if you lived under a rock like I obviously did, here is a short synopsis of Six of Crows: criminal mastermind Kaz Brekker will get all the money he can dream of if he can pull off an impossible heist with a ragtag crew of outcasts. These six people will have to infiltrate an impenetrable military stronghold abroad, retrieve a prisoner being held there and escape (more on Six of Crows on Goodreads). This combination of a diverse group and a seemingly impossible heist sounds like Ocean’s Eleven and that’s about right. Six of Crows is a low fantasy, Young Adult version of Ocean’s Eleven. Hence the title; there are six members and the Crows is the symbol of the criminal organisation they work for.
As said, I haven’t read the Grisha trilogy, because that just doesn’t seem like my kinda story. There’s a teenage girl, an orphan even, who finds out she has a unique, powerful and special power. I generally dislike books about special snowflakes with immense abilities/powers. They all just seem… the same. Mostly so if there are two love interests. Been there, done that. I still reckon the Grisha trilogy is probably very well written as I love Bardugo’s writing style but I don’t think I will read these three books (If you can persuade me otherwise, please do so).
Since I didn’t read the Grisha books, I didn’t know a lot about the world Bardugo built. Luckily, Six of Crows is set in a different part of the world, so I mostly had to learn some terms, like grisha. They are the sorcerers/wizards of this world. Where the Grisha trilogy is set Ravka, which was inspired by Tsarist Russia, Six of Crows is set in Ketterdam. Ketterdam’s inspiration was Amsterdam during the Golden Age. Lot’s of small canals, crooked houses, a red light district, many tourists and a lot of trading. Some locations, words and terms are (a bit) Dutch. For example, they eat hutspot, a well known Dutch dish. Trust me when I say that Ketterdam is one of the best low fantasy settings I’ve seen in a long, long time.
The Six of Crows crew
There are six very diverse members for this heist, and five of them are Point of View (POV) characters. This makes for an interesting read and lots of shipping, as basically the six teammembers form (or I want them to form) three couples. Each character has his/her flaw, which makes them all the more enjoyable to read about. This is a YA book so all of the characters are 18 or younger, although to me they could easily have been in their early twenties, seeing the things they’ve done and the choices they make. So, here are your new favorite characters:
Kaz is the leader of the team. Smart, cunning, ruthless, manipulative. His nickname is ‘Dirtyhands’ which says quite a lot. Kaz wants revenge on somebody, and as his backstory emerges, you will want he gets this revenge. Kaz is the least loveable character as he is stonecold, but he’s just so intriguing. Physically, he has issues as he always wears his gloves and he has to use a cane for walking.
Jesper is the sharpshooter and weapon expert. He’s never seen without his weapons. He also has a sliiiight gambling problem, which get’s him in all kinds of trouble. Jesper is long and lean, witty and sarcastic and my favourite character of the six. He reminds me a bit of Mat Cauthon from the Wheel of Time series.
Inej is the spymaster, the girl who can get all the secrets from anyone. Her nickname is ‘the Wraith’. She used to be an acrobat but was captured by slavers and sold into a pleasure house. She uses her acrobat skills to get around Ketterdam. She’s a great friend and mentally without a doubt the strongest of the six.
Nina is a Grisha Heartrender (she can control a person’s body/organs and can also ‘tailor’ people). Her powers are amazing. She’s bold and forward and seems to have her own agenda at times. Interesting, yes? Yes!
Matthias is a prisoner who is in prison thanks to Nina. He is the muscle of the group and the one with the knowledge about the place they are going, since he’s from there. Sorry Matthias, but to me you were the most boring character of the six.
Wylan is the only character of the six who’s not a POV character, which is a little bit due to the plot so best not to say too much, except that he is the demolitions and explosives expert, and I ship him with Jesper so much.
Six reasons why you should read Six of Crows
1. It’s about a crazy, impossible heist. Who doesn’t love a story about that?
2. There’s a team of misfits. Misfits equals love. This team rocks.
3. All the characters are so well written, each with great backstories, flaws and distinctive personalities.
4. Bardugo’s writing is very good, and her worldbuilding is spot-on. Ketterdam just comes to life on the pages, it feels like you’re there.
5. The pacing is so good, there is something happening on each page. This just makes you want to read on and on and on and on.
6. It ends with a massive cliffhanger, so you’ll want to pick up Crooked Kingdom immediately.
Seriously, this is one of the best low fantasy books I’ve read in ages (and Crooked Kingdom was even BETTER) and I could give you plenty more reasons to read it. Go to your bookstore and pick up a copy now!