Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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27840861.jpgTitle: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

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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.

WARNING

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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.

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What did you guys think of Crooked Kingdom?

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47 thoughts on “Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

    • Definitely worked out. And I’m glad it did because my slump is gone! 😂
      I hope you enjoy the series whenever you get to it. I’ve noticed a lot agree that the pacing was a bit off. The first book is so intense and fast so going into a sequel that was slower at times was different and unexpected. Although, it’s definitely worth pushing through. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This comment might end up in your spam box but I’ll leave it anyways!

    Great review, Melissa!! I agree with nearly all that you said. The characters are definitely the best part about this duology and I miss them so much already! Although, I’m definitely hoping for some spinoffs!

    The middle was certainly slower than the beginning and the end, but I still enjoyed it regardless; I don’t think as much as the first one though. And I agree about Matthias’s death. I don’t think that was done well. It almost seemed like an afterthought to me.

    But I was so excited for that one appearance (you know who) and yes, I’m still squealing over chapter 44 😁❤

    Glad you enjoyed this one!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, it ended up in my spam box. Boo to spam jail!
      I miss them so much too. I really do hope she does do spinoffs in the future! There’s so much that could still be explored with all of them.
      That’s exactly how I felt about Matthias’s death! It really did seem more like an afterthought than anything. I knew someone would end up dying but it could have been done in a different way.
      Yes! I think I know who you’re talking about. I was fangirling over that appearance (if we’re talking about the same character) 😂. Chapter 44 was so great! I’ve reread it several times already lol.
      Thank you, Azia!! ♥

      Liked by 1 person

      • Darn it! I don’t know why I’m in spam jail. I don’t know how I’m going to get rid of the issue. That’s okay. I’ll still leave messages for now and hope people check their spam boxes LOL. I’m really hoping for a spinoff with Nina. Her story seemed so unfinished. Also, I really hope she and Nikolai somehow end up working together or you know…end up together in general haha! And the death definitely could have been done differently but what’s done is done, I guess. I wish no one had to die, though. That would have been an even better ending! I’ll have to reread chapter 44. It was def my favorite haha ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • You could try emailing Akismet. They’re the spam support for WordPress. Although, I haven’t had very great experience with them. I’ve been in spam jail several times and I’ve found the best solution is to just keep commenting. Sooner or later enough people approve and the bot realizes you aren’t spam. It usually takes a few days. Until then I’ll make sure to check my spam folder for you! 😊
        It really did so I’m right there with you on hoping for a spin off for her. Leigh hasn’t ruled out more for the world in the future so we can only hope. YES! I would love to see her working with Nikolai. I was talking with another blogger how we wouldn’t mind a book in his POV. I would actually freak out if that happened lol. Nina and Nikolai. That would definitely be an interesting couple haha.
        That’s true and me either.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Melissa! 🙂 ❤ And I emailed Askimet and I think the problem's been dealt with. My comments seem to be showing up, but now they need to be moderated again. But that's okay! At least I'm out of spam jail!! 😀

        And I definitely wouldn't mind a book in Nikolai's POV. I think that would be fantastic. And hilarious 😉 I love his character so much. So I'm really hoping for those spinoffs. I'll just have to wait patiently for however long and reread SoC and CK until then LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome!! ♥
        I’m glad you’re out of spam jail. I know how annoying it can be to comment on a bunch of blogs only to have them fall into the abyss that is spam jail. 😂
        It really would be! Plus, getting insight on everything that has gone on since the first series. It would be amazing!
        Same. I’ll probably be rereading those several times in the future haha.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review Melissa!! I know we’ve spoken about CK throughout the day, I’m very happy you decided to push through. It def improves & you described the pacing to the tee…fast at first, slow in the middle, with a action packed end. I’m hopeful to see more of this world & super glad that Inej got to see her family again. Sad about Mathias. Happy about Jesper & Wylan. Again, I don’t think I’ll ever come across such well developed characters. I also got very emotional at the end because I feel so attached to them all. Love your meme at the end of your review, too cute! 😃💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lilly!! 💕
      I was beyond freaking out over the fact that Inej got to see her family again. I may have cried a little. That whole chapter!! Yes Matthias 😭. Another character death that I will never be over. And I was so happy about Jesper and Wylan too. I shipped them so bad haha. I really do hope we get to see more of them in the future because I miss them so much already. I have a feeling I’ll end up rereading both books at some point.
      I don’t think I will either. I honestly think that Six of Crows in general set the bar high for me when it comes to fantasy and characters. Thanks lol. When I saw it I was like “Yep that was me while reading. I’m using in my review*. 😂🙈

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, congratulation on getting out of your reading slump! Though I’m sad you didn’t enjoy it as much as I did hehehe but I agree, the character development was so good especially for Kaz, Wylan, and Jesper! I mean, Nina, Matthias, and Inej’s characters were already explored enough in the previous book. And yes the pace seemed a little slow buuuut all the genius scheming kinda made up for it for me 😛 Also YES! I hate that Matthias had to die! It was indeed kind of… coincidental? Out of nowhere? But still, for a story with a stake so high, it seems realistic haha and omg I just thought of it but a spin off of Nina’s own story would be AWESOME ❤ Great review Mellisa! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Puput!! 💕
      I really did love it but yeah overall it didn’t quiet live up to my expectations. Though I have to admit sometimes they get a bit too high 😂. The character development was so great! I think Leigh is brilliant when it comes to character development. Yes! That’s exactly how I felt. It felt coincidental if not slightly ironic. I guess I just wish that if someone was going to die it would have been done differently. For me, it was like oh things are going really perfect lets make them less perfect. And with the stakes so high, like you said, I expected someone to die but I thought it would be more of a sacrifice type of death rather than the way it turned out. I really hope she does to a spin off with Nina! It would be perfect. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I will have to come back and read your spoiler review after I read the book. It’s definitely interesting to see a buddy read with 4 buddies trying to juggle time to read a tough book haha.. That’s too bad that it’s slow-paced. I thought some part of book 1 was slow even though you loved it. This book is slow for you will only mean a DNF for me.. haha.. hopefully not though.. haha.. Congrats on getting out of the slump. Two books will get you back into reading: Hunted by Meagan Spooner and A List of Cages by Robin Roe (I will have this book review posted on 12/20/16. It’s a 5 star read and still available on NetGalley).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review for this book Melissa, and I was so excited to see this on your blog because we’ve been talking about it for a while now haven’t we?
    I remember reading Lilly’s review and seeing her mention the same thing about the pacing I didn’t really notice that too much, I guess from my perspective I had a gap of about 6-8 months between reading Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom so I think I was so excited to finally get my hands on it even the slow parts were fast for me (if that makes sense).
    The character developed was just amazing, and honestly I think that’s something I’ve come to expect from Leigh Bardugo. I LOVED learning more about all the characters, especially Wylan because we was left behind a little in the first book I felt. What I loved the most was how the six of them became a real time rather than just a group of misfits working together!
    Matthias’s death destroyed me. I kind of started thinking they would all end up surviving, no matter how unlikely that was (kind of like what Jesper/Wylan (I can’t remember which) said when they discovered Matthias had died).
    I really really REALLY hope Leigh Bardugo writes more in this world. I will pick up anything she does write either way but I’d love to see more from the Six of Crows characters or the Grisha characters again. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Beth!! ♥ Yeah we’ve been chatting about it for a while. I think since you posted your review, which I so need to go back and read now that I’ve finished it. 😂
      I completely get what you mean. I only had to wait around a month to read it and by then I was so far into my reading slump caused by Six of Crows that I was expecting similar pace. Books with slower parts are always bad to pick up during slumps for me. But even with the slow parts it was so worth it and the intense parts made up for it. I’m glad I finished it because otherwise I think I would still be in a terrible slump.
      Same! After having reading and loved the Grisha trilogy and then experiencing the development in this I’d have to say she is fantastic when it comes to characters. Though I do think the duology shows a lot of improvement as well. Yes! I felt the exact same way about Wylan. I was so happy we learned more about him in this book and whereas in the first book I didn’t have much of an opinion in this one I loved him so much. And I really loved how they became more of a team too.
      I actually got spoiled for his death ahead of time, sadly. So I knew it was going to happen but I just didn’t expect the way it happened. But still it broke my heart. Another character death added to the list one ones I know I won’t get over.
      I really hope so too! I love the book world and it would be amazing to see whatever else she comes up for with it. I really want a Nina spinoff at this point. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s all right, and yeah there are books we’ve been chatting about for a while. In fact the amount of times we’ve spoken about The Song Rising I feel like that book should have already been released now!
        I think if I’d have gone back and re-read Six of Crows before starting Crooked Kingdom I would have felt the same, but for me Crooked Kingdom was just as fast paced as I remember the first one being, but I guess going into the second one only a month after the first you had a different opinion on that, and given you’d read the first one more recently I’m guessing yours is more accurate! 🙂 The intense parts were insanely tense, I was pretty much on the edge of my seat for most of them.
        Her writing’s improved a fair bit since the first book of the Grisha trilogy was released but her character development has always been on point I felt. In the first book I kind of felt that way about both Jesper and Wylan but given there were six POVs I kind of expected that. Either way, I loved the development we got into both of their characters, especially Wylan, in this book.
        Oh no, that’s such a shame. I had no clue it was coming and even after it did happen when he came out the alley(?) towards Nina I kind of thought maybe I’d read it wrong and he was going to survive after all. It broke my heart when she did die though.
        Ohh, a Nina spin-off would be amazing! I was thinking one from Nikolai’s POV as well! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know right!? Just wait until we both finally read it and then have to wait for the next book. I can already imagine our conversations.
        I think it might have also had to do with the amount of attention I wasn’t able to put on it. School was so crazy busy during the time that I read it that I couldn’t focus. In the future I’ll have to go back and reread it to see if my opinion on the pacing changes. I actually have my mom reading it now and she is speeding through it after having to wait for me to finish it when I made her read Six of Crows so 😂🙈. They really were! I remember actually talking to my book a few times because of the intense parts. I was really into those parts haha.
        I felt that way about both of them too. I loved the insight on both in this one. I kind of wish we would have had more, you know? I really felt that the ending could have used a few more chapters in each character’s point of view. Though the openness leaves things to be explored in the future I can’t help wishing we had gotten more lol.
        If I wouldn’t have been spoiled for it I would have had the same reaction. It really did break my heart though. I remember not being sure about him in the first book but he grew on me.
        YES! A Nikolai spin off would be amazing! When he appeared, or his alter ego, I freaked out. I was like NIKOLAI!! He was my mom’s favorite in the first series so I can’t wait for her to get to that part haha. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • The wait for the next book is going to be insane, and they’re always really long waits as well. I think between the second and this book it was well over a year. I know they’re worth it when they’re released and we have them in our hands but still!
        Oh you’d be surprised what can actually end up pulling you out of stories, whenever I hit a big slump there was usually something for me, and normally by the time it goes away, as most things do, I find I’m eager to get back into the book and find out what exactly I’m missing you know? Hopefully if you re-read Crooked Kingdom you’ll find the pacing better or different but even if you don’t you still found it a good read overall right?
        I think at one point I actually had to put the book down because it was too intense, I needed to take a step back and catch my breath almost before I could go back into it. Honestly these two books together were full of amazing character development but yeah I agree actually I would have liked to see more from the ending, I guess on the other hand the openness means I can hold out hope for a sequel or something! 😀
        I was the same but he grew on me a lot in this book, I was so heartbroken when he died!
        I freaked out too, I couldn’t believe what I was reading and then I was desperate for even more Nikolai than what we got! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I bet it is. I know from The Mime Order to when The Song Rising releases it’ll have been over a two year wait. But then again the release got pushed back a year because she wanted to work on it more. So, even though the wait is long it really will be worth it. 😊
        Even though I know all I’ll do during the wait is wish for time to speed up so that I can have the book.
        Definitely! Overall Crooked Kingdom was fantastic. I adore Leigh’s writing and the characters and story are so memorable. I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. I just wish I had picked it up at a better time.
        I had a moment like that too! I’m honestly terrible with intense parts and end up looking ahead before I step back and that may have happened a few times 😂. Intense parts always make my spoiler impulse worse. Yep! I’m just going to keep hoping for a sequel or spin off too. And when Leigh eventually does announce it I will commence freaking out haha.
        Me either and I am too! I was so happy she decided to include some familiar faces from the original books, especially him. Although, now it makes me wonder if one should actually read the trilogy first before the duology. I know there are people who don’t like new characters introduced so far into a book so it could be annoying coming from the stand point of someone who hasn’t read the trilogy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh really, I wasn’t aware it was that long because I think I only picked up both books a while after The Mime Order had been released. Still at least this way we know the wait will be worth it. If she pushed it back to work on it more it’s bound to be an amazing book isn’t it?
        Same, but then again that’s how I am with every anticipated release of mine! 😀
        Yeah it’s a shame you were in the middle of a slump when you did read it, but the fact that you still thought it was a fantastic book even with that just shows how good it was, and maybe if you do re-read it a little while later you’ll enjoy it more.
        I’ve never really looked ahead during tense parts but I do read those pages faster just so I can get through it and find out what actually happens. I try and avoid spoilers just because I know they don’t compare to reading and discovering them for yourself you know?
        I will be right there with you, freaking out! 😀
        I love it when we see characters from previous series, it’s like Easter eggs in films isn’t it? I read the trilogy before the duology and that worked for me because of the subtle references and hints back to the original series. I’m glad I did and although I say to people you don’t need to have read the Grisha books before starting Six of Crows I do recommend it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Definitely! The Song Rising is one book I have a lot of high hopes for that’s for sure.
        That’s true, I’m the same. 😂
        Looking ahead is my worst reading habit. It’s either really intense or I get too impatient with certain parts. Although, it’s also a habit I’ve been trying to break and I have been doing it less. That’s true about spoilers though. I always like it better when I don’t spoil it but sometimes I can’t help myself lol.
        It really is. Seeing familiar faces from previous series always makes me so happy. I’m glad that I read the trilogy first too. It definitely added to the reading experience of the duology. Before I was firm on not having to read it before but now I think I’ll also recommend it while saying that it isn’t a must but does provide a good background for certain aspects. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think The Song Rising will exceed our expectations, just because it’s that kind of book and I think as well we’ve been waiting for it so long we’re bound to love it no matter what.
        I used to have that habit. Whenever I started a book before I was halfway through I’d always skip ahead and read the last few pages to find out what happened. I don’t do that anymore but it was a hard habit to break so good luck with that Melissa!
        See that’s what I thought, well and Six of Crows hadn’t even been released when I started the Grisha trilogy, but I did re-read the Grisha books before starting Six of Crows and I think I did love it that little bit more because of that, like you said. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, it probably will. I’ve seen a bit of raving over it already on twitter here and there so I also take that as a good sign. Plus, yeah we’ve been waiting for it for so long we’re bound to love it haha.
        I think I do less of the peeking at the ending now and more of the looking ahead a few chapters which is good. I used to always look at the ending at one point though. 😂
        Aww I wish I would have thought to reread the trilogy first. One day I’m going to have to have a binge reread of both series. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Raving is definitely a good sign. Honestly the closer it gets to it’s release date the more excited for it I actually am. I don’t know if there’s anything Samantha Shannon can do with this book to make me hate it!
        Well that is good, maybe you’re in the process of weaning yourself off and soon you won’t peak ahead at all. 😀
        I feel this is a series that will require a binge read every so often! 🙂

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      • Me too! I don’t think she can either. Plus, there are so many books still left in the series. I’m so excited to see where each character ends up and the development.
        Definitely in the process. Although, there is one series I’ll always peak ahead on. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome review, Melissa! 🙂 I’m such a slacker and need to finish this series. Even though Lilly said not to read on in her review, I couldn’t help myself and found out about Matthias anyway. Oops! 🙈 Haha! It actually made me want to pick it up more knowing that because now I want to know how it happened. I’ve had like zero focus ever since SOC. I can relate to having a hard time reading. Most importantly, you finally finished a book. Yay! 🙌👍 I went through the same thing March-April. It was the worst. Here’s to you finishing another one! 🥂 What’s next on the list?

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    • Thank you, Jill!! 💕
      You’ll get it finished eventually. I completely get why you put it aside because I did the same with Nevernight a while back for the same reason. Plus, you’ve been crazy busy so you’re definitely not a slacker 😝.
      Lol I saw your comment on there when I was checking out her review. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it when you do get to that part. To tell you the truth I was spoiled about his death before we started the buddy read but didn’t expect the way it went down. 🙈
      Yes! I was so happy to finally finish a book. Six of Crows put me in a nearly two month long slump and it was terrible.
      I’m actually reading RoseBlood because CK made me want to dive straight into another fantasy read. Then after that I’m reading your book and then Under Rose Tainted Skies. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can totally see why you did that with Nevernight. That one took me a week to finish and only because I forced myself. SOC did the same thing to Megan and me. So weird, right? I didn’t get approved for RoseBlood, but I’m curious what you’ll say about it. The premise sounded pretty intriguing. I started A Thousand Pieces of You and totally loving it right now. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was in the worst fantasy slump when I decided to start Nevernight. Slow pacing and fantasy slumps really don’t go together lol. Six of Crows just blew every other fantasy book out of the water. It’s probably my top read of this year. Nothing else could compare with the pacing and how engaging it was which is why I think it put us into slumps 🙈.
        It’s really good so far! Awww yay! I’m glad you’re enjoying A Thousand Pieces of You. I love that book. I need to finish the rest of the series still though 😂.

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