Book Review: CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo

Photo credit: Goodreads
So Crooked Kingdom! Where do I even start? I've been psyched about this book since I read and loved Six of Crows last year and I'm happy to report the duology is going on my hall of fame perma-favorites list because wow, did this sequel deliver. Before I tell you how so, however, here is the Goodreads summary:
"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 magic in the Grisha world."
So here's what I was expecting from Crooked Kingdom after reading Six of Crows:

  • Respectful portrayal of disability (Kaz's bad leg and PTSD)
  • Really clever con/thief-like plots
  • A look at addiction
  • All the twists
  • Action
  • Tons of wit and snark
  • More detailed and layered world building
  • A realistic and satisfying end to an awesome duology

With Crooked Kingdom, I got all of that and more. 

There are so many things I loved about this book. You learn a whole lot more about each of the main characters (Kaz, Inej, Matthias, Nina, Jesper, and Wylan), you get an even better sense of not just Ketterdam but how the Grisha world fits together, and there are soooooo many twists throughout the book. And of course the humor and wit I loved in Six of Crows was back in Crooked Kingdom, plus the relationships from the first book were really fleshed out in the sequel. My only nitpick was sometimes it felt like we had a little too much background for some of the characters? But I honestly didn't mind because I loved the book so much I didn't want it to end, so really it was an added bonus.

Plus! One thing I really admired was over clever the plot was in Six of Crows and I didn't think it was possible to one-up that but wow, Crooked Kingdom's plot was like three clever plots in one and it was so incredibly gratifying to read. I loved watching Kaz and his crew go from plan to plan and build on both their successes and failures to create one truly epic conclusion to the duology. 

It's also good to note Bardugo delved more into racial dynamics, which was really great to see. Multiple characters dealt with racial microaggressions throughout the novel and it was clear those elements were more well thought out in this sequel. Then of course, there was one scene that really made me pause and nod. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say Kaz is offered a "miracle cure" for his disability and not only did he not take it, he was appropriately pissed about it. I was really glad to see this handled so aptly and it made me respect and love the series even more. 

The Six of Crows duology is a masterpiece. From its diverse cast to perfect dialogue to incredibly clever plots, I'll be passionately recommending this duology for-freaking-ever. If you're even remotely interested in fantasy, make sure you pick this one up for sure. 

Diversity note: Kaz, one of the main protagonists, has chronic pain and a limp from an old injury and uses a cane to help him get around. He also deals with sometimes-debilitating PTSD. Another POV character, Jesper, is black and bisexual and Wylan also likes boys. A minor character is queer, too.

Twitter-sized bites:

.@Ava_Jae gives 5/5 stars to CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo. Is this stunning sequel on your TBR? (Click to tweet)

Looking for a clever YA Fantasy w/ a very diverse cast? Check out CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo. (Click to tweet)

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