Book Review – Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: September 20, 2016

Print Length: 561 pages

Read Date(s): September 5, 2021 – September 9, 2021

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Goodreads Synopsis

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts 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.

My Review

This book was even better than Six of Crows, and I didn’t know that was possible. Everything I loved about Six of Crows was in this book, as well, except it was multiplied many times over. Bardugo’s signature wit, charm, and ability to write engaging dialogue were all on full display here. The pacing of the book felt like it was amped up to the highest level throughout and kept pulling me on to read more until the explosive ending that left me a bit heartbroken.

The story started not long after the last one left off with the crew building a plan to save Inej before it was too late. From there, everything moved forward at a brisk pace as they raced to save her and get revenge on Van Eck. I enjoyed the heist story and schemes from Six of Crows, but the intricacy of the plans and schemes in this book made those look like child’s play. There were so many twists and turns I lost count of them all along the way, and many of them were able to surprise me, which I loved. I never felt like I knew where the story was going to go next, which made it a thrilling ride.

Even with all the bells and whistles of the plot, the relationships between the characters and the interesting, deep characterizations were the best parts of this book for me. I loved them all, but I particularly enjoyed getting to know more about Wylan and his history, which were largely missing from the first book. His history with his father was sad to read, and it made me hate Van Eck even more than I already did. I was happy to see Wylan was able to grow from his bad experiences while also getting everything he deserved in the end. His slowly blooming relationship with Jesper was also cute, and I thought they brought out the best in each other. Kaz was his usual intelligent, devious self here, but it was powerful to see him come to terms with his past trauma and acknowledge the importance of his friends to him. Inej’s story, and her journey with Kaz, was beautiful to read. I was happy to see she stayed focused on what she wanted out of the relationship and her future while also giving him the space to heal.

***Spoiler Alert*** The ending of this book, especially the death, took me by surprise. For most of the book, I had been waiting for someone to die, but they never did. By the time it finally happened, I thought everyone was safe since the plan seemed to have gone off without a hitch. It was like a punch to the gut, especially since the person who bit the dust had such a great story of growth over the two novels. I was interested to see where the character went next, and it broke my heart that things ended the way they did. ***End Spoiler Alert***

Overall, I loved everything about this book. The plot, characters, and themes were compelling, and I enjoyed the focus on the impact of fathers throughout the book. It did an excellent job of tackling difficult topics, such as addiction, gambling, and trauma, while delivering a fast-paced, thrilling plot. Therefore, I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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