Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Page count: 536
Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Series: SIX OF CROWS, Book 2
Rating: 5/5 Stars – Loved it!
At the end of SIX OF CROWS, Kaz and his crew were in dire straits. Betrayed by their employer, Kaz managed to thwart Jan Van Eck from getting his hands on Kuwei, a young chemist who knows the secret to creating parem, a highly addictive drug that supercharges a Grisha’s abilities. But that small victory came at a cost: Inej was captured and is now being used as a hostage in Van Eck’s negotiations to obtain Kuwei and his knowledge. With the whole city of Ketterdam against them, Kaz and his crew will have to pull off the con of a lifetime if they’re to get Inej back and stop civil war from breaking out over who controls this deadly drug.
CROOKED KINGDOM is the best kind of sequel: the kind where you feel like you’re sitting down with old friends. All your favorites are back, and with them comes the same banter and camaraderie that made SIX OF CROWS so much fun. There’s still secrets to reveal and character growth to be made. We get a quick glimpse into the past of each person throughout the story, learning a little better what makes each one tick. And of course, there’s romance aplenty to be had as the walls close in and every night may be our heroes’ last.
As for the plot, the pace basically starts at 11 and keeps moving briskly until the very end. Bardugo still has some down beats for character introspection, but with very little safety to be found in the city of Ketterdam, Kaz and crew are pretty much kept going from one con to the next in order to keep alive. Add in an a new adversary in the form of specially trained Grisha hunters, and you have the makings of a breathless novel that still never feels overly rushed. I loved the heists and that it continually felt like our heroes were on their back foot. Unlike SIX OF CROWS, where it was the crew against a mostly faceless system as they pulled off a heist, CROOKED KINGDOM is a duel, Kaz against Jan Van Eck. I really enjoyed watching the two teams maneuver against each other, each group gaining wins and losses over the course of the story.
CROOKED KINGDOM is a highly satisfying conclusion to this duology, building on everything that was great about SIX OF CROWS and pushing the characters to their limits. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will leave you craving waffles. It’s a book that earns the hype it gets, and I highly recommend the series to anyone who loves the trope of a band of misfits against the world.