Review: Crooked Kingdom

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Orion Children’s Group
Pages: 536
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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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.

It never fails to amaze me just how much Leigh Bardugo has grown as a writer between Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. This has been sitting on my shelves since it was published, and I was finally in the right mind set to sit down and read it. I loved it. Where do I even begin?

I hate books with multiple perspectives. It’s rarely done well and it pulls you out of the narrative. It didn’t happen here. Bardugo has plotted this book masterfully, balancing six character arcs and developing high stakes for everyone involved. Everything that made Six of Crows so popular is present: the stellar world-building, characters that you have a strong emotional connection to, a brilliant plot. The heist planned in this book is quite different to the first book, more calculated and political than the non-stop action of the original heist.

In terms of characters, it feels like Kaz has the least amount of growth. That kid moves at a glacial pace, and it is frustrating to watch him get himself into some of the situations he gets himself into. He’s also brilliant, cunning, and whip-smart. He always seems to be five steps ahead of everyone else, which makes it so much better when the threads of plot start coming together and you realise where the story is heading. Proving that they balance each other out, I felt that Inej had the most growth. Mostly in terms of realising she’s not infallible (as all young adults eventually do), and pushing herself as a person and fighter. Wylan and Jesper are forever my favourites, and that’s all you need to know.

If you’re here for the ships, you won’t be disappointed. They all feel organic, true-to-character, and don’t overpower the main storyline (romance masquerading as a fantasy, I think not).

In a market that is as overcrowded as the young adult fantasy genre, as a reader it often feels like you will never find something original – heck, even something that’s well-written (a marketable idea will get you everywhere, just ask Stephenie Meyer, Veronica Roth, Sarah J. Maas…). Crooked Kingdom is proof that there’s still talented writers keeping the genre alive.

★★★★☆

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