Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom
By Leigh Bardugo
Published by Henry Holt & Co.

[Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t read the first book, Six of Crows, this will give away a big part of that plot.]

You know the old expression, “you can’t choose your family”? Well sometimes you can. And that’s exactly what this bunch of equally lovable and dysfunctional misfits did.

When we last left the crew at the conclusion of Six of Crows, they had just pulled off one of the greatest jailbreaks & heists of all time.  A one two punch combo that even they thought would end badly.  But instead of celebrating their success, and their new found wealth, they were betrayed – and by one of their own.

Broken, hunted, and missing a member of their crew, Kaz Brekker is not one to curl up in a corner feeling sorry for himself.  Those days are over – now, it’s time for revenge.  Kaz has a plan, and not just for this last betrayal; he wants revenge for all of the other wrongs that were done to him and continue to haunt him. He will get Inej back, he will get his revenge, and if he has to battle the entire Island of Ketterdam, so be it! Pity the fool who thinks Kaz Brekker has been defeated.

At the end of the first book Inej doesn’t make it back with the rest of the crew, and we find out that she’s been kidnapped by the merchant Van Eck.  Sadly, Inej doesn’t believe that Kaz will come after her: after all, there’s no profit in it for him. But what she doesn’t realize is that Kaz cares for her more than she knows; even more than Kaz himself will admit!  But Kaz is not going to let Van Eck get away with double-crossing him, and taking one of his crew.  He concocts an intricate plot of revenge, not trusting anyone and keeping some pretty important details on a “need to know” basis, leaving his crew to wonder if this time he’s gone too far.

Murder plots, explosions, a tiny bit romance, and ninja fighting on a high wire – this book has it all! Told by the various points of view of the crew members, each chapter fluctuates back and forth between them, so you see the adventure from different perspectives.  This nonlinear way of storytelling can at times make you feel like you’re losing continuity, but Bardugo does a great job at keeping it from getting disjointed, and fills in the gaps and back stories of the characters.  We learn so much more about the characters and how they came to settle in Ketterdam; what brought them together and how their friendships were forged. Bardugo skimmed the surface in the first book, so I was happy to see that she continued to round out the back stories of each of the characters.  And although the plot for revenge and the action make this book a fast paced and exciting read, it’s the camaraderie that makes this book shine.

With so many “series” books being part of a trilogy, I was surprised to find out that the second book would end the series, but Bardugo does a great job of finishing up the adventure in just the two books.  By doing this, she has eliminated the dreaded middle book syndrome, where so much of a story can drag and make me lose interest.

If you liked the first book, make sure to pick this one up.  It’s full of adventure, twists and turns, great back stories and character development – and the extra added bonus of the big reveal behind the series catchphrase, “No Mourners, No Funerals”. But no hints, you need to read the book for that.

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