Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Genre: YA, Fantasy
When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.
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 badly weakened, 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.
I finished a book for this first time in two months! *throws party*
For Crooked Kingdom, I participated in my first ever buddy read with three other bloggers – Jill @ Rant and Rave About Books, Lilly @ Lair of Books, and Megan @ bookslayerReads. All four of us were beyond excited to finally dive into Crooked Kingdom after having loved Six of Crows so much. We even named our little group the Bookish Dregs, Jill came up with the name. However, November was an extremely busy month for several of us and December continued to be just as busy. Also, we all struggled with the pacing. I ended up putting it aside for almost two weeks because I couldn’t focus on anything with school wrapping up. It’s actually taken me nearly a month to finish it but alas here we are! Jill and Megan have temporarily put it aside because it was throwing them into slumps. Lilly, however, finished it before all of us and you should really check out her review because it’s amazing. ♥
Now onto my review! I apologize if it’s a bit of a mess. It’s been a while since I last wrote a review.
As in a lot of spoilers. If you haven’t read Crooked Kingdom yet I would not recommend reading this review.
Haven’t read Six of Crows? Check out my review for it here.
“We’d fight our way out together – knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”
Despite everything, I ended up really enjoying Crooked Kingdom. Leigh Bardugo built wonderfully onto everything that I loved about the first book.
The character development was fantastic. From where this set of characters was in the beginning to where they ended up had the feeling of just allies becoming actual friends (some more than that), forming a bond. Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Wylan, and Jesper all grew so much. I also love how the backstories varied this time around. In Six of Crows we learned a lot about Kaz, Nina, and Matthias with a bit of Inej here and there but in Crooked Kingdom we got to dive into the lives of Wylan, Jesper, and more of Inej. Learning more about each of these characters just solidified the fact that I’ll never find another group of characters that I love as much as them. If Leigh succeeded at anything it was creating these beautifully diverse characters that you can’t help but love despite all of their flaws. She also succeeded in breaking my heart over their pasts.
As for the world building, we learn more about Ketterdam and its workings this time around which I thoroughly enjoyed. The insight she provided about it helped to draw me into the story more fully.
Also, we see a few familiar faces from the Grisha trilogy make an appearance. I may or may not have freaked out over that while reading those parts.
“Where do you think the money went?” he repeated.
“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.
He shrugged. “They all seem like practical choices.”
All of that aside, I have to admit that it didn’t completely live up to my expectations. Maybe they were a bit too high? It could be possible.
Crooked Kingdom picks up almost exactly after the cliffhanger of an ending that Six of Crows left us with. We have our lovely Dregs sequestered away on a hidden part of Ketterdam, hiding from a city that is no longer safe for them, planning out how they’re going to rescue Inej from Van Eck.
For me, the beginning of the book hit the ground running in terms of pace. It was so intense and I couldn’t put it down for anything. I found myself yelling at the book at times because of what was happening. Especially during Inej’s chapters before they rescue her. What happened after they rescued her? The pacing slowed down a lot. Six of Crows felt like one continuous tale woven into backstory, history, and constant suspense. Crooked Kingdom felt more like an intense beginning story, slow middle, and intense ending story. It was two stories in one, the rescue and the revenge. The chapters were also a bit lengthy at times, which I attribute to character backstory. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the backstory but it wasn’t as masterfully woven into the sequel as it was in the first book. It does pick up from the slowness though and once it does it doesn’t stop until you turn the last page.
I also felt that everything seemed to domino effect at the end almost too perfectly with a bit too much openness. Given how things seemed to just fall into place I felt that Matthias’s death was a way to make things less perfect, which I didn’t like. That was really the only purpose that it served aside from breaking my heart. Another chapter in Nina’s point of view toward the very end might have changed my mind but that’s just it, there wasn’t one. Aside from Nina leaving we don’t really know where things leave off for her which brings me to how I felt that some of it was too open. Inej, Kaz, Wylan, and Jesper all had the right amount of conclusive openness in the end but Nina didn’t. Although, that hole leaves the perfect opening for Leigh to create future books. Who knows? We can only hope!
All in all, despite the problems I had, I really did love Crooked Kingdom and felt that it was a solid ending to a duology that leaves the possibility for future books on the table. It had a bittersweet conclusion that made me cry not only because of what happened but because I realized just how much I’m going to miss the world and all of the characters.
“No mourners,” said Jesper, surprised by the ache of tears in his throat.
“No funerals,” they all replied softly.
I can’t wait for whatever Leigh writes in the future because I know I’m going to read and love it.
Also, is anyone else still freaking out over chapter 44? Because I am.
What did you guys think of Crooked Kingdom?