Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 5 stars
Note: While this review will be spoiler free, it will most definitely reference events from the previous book. If you haven’t started this series yet (and really what’s stopping you?!), check out VBC’s review of book 1, Six of Crows.
Straightaway after pulling off the impossible of impossible heists, Kaz Brekker and his crew don’t have time to slow down. Not only were they deceived by Jan Van Eck, the merchant who initially hired them, but Van Eck is also holding Inej hostage as leverage for Kaz to turn over Kuwei Yul-Bo, the son of the creator of the dangerous drug jurda parem. Not only that, but apparently news of Kuwei and parem’s existence has reached other lands, and Ketterdam is finding itself flooded with those who want control of the drug. All eyes are open, looking for Kaz and his allies. Just another day in the Barrel.
I loved that Crooked Kingdom started off running. While I was scratching my head as to why I didn’t pick up the first book sooner, in the end I’m actually quite happy I waited because that meant I pretty much got to finish one and move right on to the other. And with the way things were left at the end of Six of Crows, while not a completely devastating cliffhanger, things were still left unsettled. So getting right back into the swing of things suited me just fine.
Crooked Kingdom progresses in much the same vein as Six of Crows; there are twists and turns as Kaz and his gang of ragtag thieves try to navigate their comeuppance upon Jan Van Eck, free Inej, and keep jurda parem from becoming a thing. Of course not all their plans run smoothly, but the whole story flows so well together, and I rather enjoyed the fact that the entirety of the story takes place in Ketterdam. When one roadblock would hit, I would wait in anticipation to find out whether or not our group could get out of the unexpected or if this would finally be the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. While I can’t give anything specific away—because duh—I will say I was impressed by the clever antics, and the revelations that I didn’t really see coming.
On that note, Leigh Bardugo did such a great job with these six main characters. I figured we pretty much learned all there was to know about them in the first book, but no, we so did not. Bardugo, in 536 pages, managed to add so much depth and more layers to each of her six main characters. For a duology that focuses pretty much equally on all the main characters, being able to flesh them all out so well is quite the feat, in my opinion. Six of Crows introduced us to Kaz, Jesper, Wylan, Inej, Matthias, and Nina and their respective backgrounds. In Crooked Kingdom each of our characters must confront and acknowledge something about themselves, in their pasts, which they need to overcome in order to move forward. Probably most notable is Kaz’s long-held revenge plans on Barrel boss Pekka Rollins, who Kaz blames for the death of his brother. This long seated hatred for Rollins is something that has festered in Kaz for years, and in Crooked Kingdom we finally see whether or not Kaz will let that darkness completely take over or if he can move forward.
Leigh Bardugo doesn’t pull any punches in this one, and while there were a few story threads that I think could very well carry over into another spin-off series, I think Crooked Kingdom successfully finishes off this storyline. I hope we’ll get to revisit these characters again in the future.
Sexual content: kissing, references to sex