Tag Archives: Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows
By Leigh Bardugo
Published by Henry Holt & Co.

I had been hearing a lot about Six of Crows, and since it was all good I decided to give it a shot. I was apprehensive at first because it was based on an already existing series known as The Grisha Trilogy. I was worried that I would be picking up a story in that world, but somewhere in the middle. Boy was I wrong. This book, although set in the fantasy Grisha world, is not part of the Grisha Trilogy. In fact, not only does it stand on its own from the trilogy, it looks like it’s going to be the first in a new series. And I’m very excited about that.

This book is awesome!

Now I could just stop here, and tell you to just go read it – cause I think it’s that good – but I’m not. I’m going to tell you why I think this book is so darned good.

First, let me tell you a bit about it.
It’s a CAPER story! And I just love a good caper. If you’re not sure what I mean, here is a definition from Wikipedia:

“The caper story is a subgenre of crime fiction. The typical caper story involves one or more crimes (especially thefts, swindles, or occasionally kidnappings) perpetrated by the main characters in full view of the reader.”

So what’s the “caper”? Six kids (teens around 16-17 years of age) need to break into an impenetrable prison, kidnap a prisoner, and then break out of the prison. And if all goes well, they will be very, very rich.

From the very first page this book is one big adventure with a strong cast of characters that I just fell in love with. The story is strong, the dialogue is smart and sassy, and the action is non-stop. It moves very quickly and never lags. And it’s funny! There is so much wisecracking between characters that I actually found myself chuckling out loud. Oh, and there’s magic!

Now let’s talk about the “kids”. Almost immediately you understand that this is about a group of teens, but as you learn through their own memories and back stories, they’ve been dealt some pretty bad cards. Their stories are harsh and heartbreaking – but they have not been beaten. They’ve survived in some pretty crappy surroundings.

Kaz is a thief and the leader of a gang known as the Dregs. He’s the brains behind the plan. As a young child he faced a tragic loss that forced him to grow up way too soon. He knows who caused his troubles, and he’s determined to make him pay.

Inej is known as the Wraith. Once an acrobat that walked the high wire, she’s now known for her stealth and her skill with knives. Kaz took her out of a bad situation and she owes him her unfailing loyalty. She acts as his spy.

Jesper is the wisecracking gambler that loves guns, and is a crack shot. He left his family farm for an education, but the cards called his name, and he never left the gambling houses. He can be counted on to provide the comic relief and to never miss his target.

Nina is Grisha, which means she practices magic. She’s a heartrender and can drop a man with just a twist of her hand. She’s also very beautiful and pretty sassy. She needs to right a wrong, and it’s her hope that she can make amends. Her guilt drives her to join this team.

Matthias is a former soldier who was accused of a terrible crime. He’s worried that his part in the plan will brand him as a traitor to his country, and he struggles with not only that guilt, but his thirst for revenge on the person who cost him so much.

Wylan, the poor little rich boy rebelling against his father – is very good with explosives. He could be the weak link in the team, but he’s determined to prove himself.

This is a great cast of characters, and I love how Leigh Bardugo highlights each one of them by alternating chapters specifically focused on each one. This is where you get their back stories, and how you keep up with each member of the team as they move through this wild adventure.

For anyone who likes a good old fashioned action adventure, this one will fit the bill. It reminds me of two of my favorite TV shows, Leverage and Firefly, which also had the crackling dialogue and wild capers that I love so much in this book.

Check this one out, and as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more information, check out Leigh Bardugo’s website at:

Leigh Bardugo – Six of Crows