I put off writing a Crooked Kingdom review for a long time. For some reason, I have no problems writing reviews on OK / pretty decent / good books (say, 2 – 4 stars) and I secretly kinda like writing reviews on terrible books (1 star books). However, I dread writing reviews on 5 star books. And Crooked Kingdom is one of those. I think it’s because I can’t find the right words to do it justice. But here goes.
Crooked Kingdom: the story
This is the second and last book of The Crows duology, the first book being Six of Crows. It picks up pretty soon after where Six of Crows ended – yeah, that cliffhanger ending. This is the synopsis from author Leigh Bardugo’s website:
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 the Grisha world.
All of your favourite Crows are back
Kaz, Jesper, Inej, Nina, Matthias and Wylan: all six Crows are back for more action! And as their backstories have already been told (mostly) in Six of Crows, there’s more room for character development in Crooked Kingdom. There’s more of what makes each character tick and we get to know them even better. Even Wylan is a POV character this time around.
Just looking at Kevin Wada’s character cards makes me want to go back to this setting. Why are there only two books in this series? I need more of these amazing characters. They are all flawed and that’s what makes them so enjoyable. In most Young Adult novels, there’s a ‘chosen one’ or one character that’s better than the rest. Not these six. They are all far from perfect. And they are so well written by Bardugo, who gives each of them their own tone of voice. Jesper still is my favourite character, with Kaz, Inej and Wylan not far behind. Man, these six. They alone are reason enough to read this duology.
Also, there are ships galore. Kaz and Inej make the perfect bickering ‘will they/won’t they’ couple. Nina and Matthias are just meant to be together. And don’t get me started on Jesper and Wylan because that ship is perfection. If Bardugo ever writes a book with just Jesper and Wylan in it, it will be an instant buy for me. The romance is never sappy in the book, never once forced and it all feels very natural.
What are you waiting for?
If you’re reading this review, chances are you’ve already read Six of Crows. If so, you are wasting your time online. Go buy Crooked Kingdom NOW and get to reading it. Actually, the same goes if you haven’t read Six of Crows yet. Buy the boxset! Trust me when I say you won’t regret it. Do you need more persuasion? OK, here goes.
The setting is great, the worldbuilding detailed and so well thought out. And the plot… Oh man, the plot. It’s like Bardugo took a big cooking pot and threw pinches in it of Ocean’s Eleven, Inside Man and Now You See Me. There’s plotting, scheming, a little magic and a lot of OOOOH’s. But don’t get me wrong: Crooked Kingdom is all 100% original material. I’m just giving some relatable examples.
This is the perfect duology for you if you love YA, some romance, a GREAT plot, excellent world building and the best characters you’ll read about in a long time. And just look at that cover, it’s so gorgeous. Run to the bookstore now I tell you!
What to do after finishing Crooked Kingdom
I’m still torn about if I should read the Grisha trilogy. The story is not very appealing to me personally. But I love Bardugo’s writing style and want to read more from her. Also, I haven’t read a single negative review on those books so just maybe I’ll set aside my prejudice and pick up part one. Luckily, in september a standalone will come out: The Language of Thorns. It’s a short story collection with six tales.
Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange―to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.
And, Bardugo also wrote a Wonder Woman novel; Wonder Woman: Warbringer. That book comes out this month! I reckon this will be a book which will attract a whole bunch of new fans to Bardugo’s other books. So there’s plenty to read while I can keep dreaming of new Crows stories in the future.