Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #2
Date Published: September 27th 2016
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
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.
The Six of Crows Duology is set in the Grishaverse, and are a series set after the events of the original trilogy – Shadow & Bone. These books follow six main characters, who are part of a gang called the Dregs. The duology focuses on Kaz Brekker and his crew of outcasts as they undergo the most daring heist ever attempted and then how they cope with repercussion upon their return to their home to Ketterdam.
This follows up to Six of Crows was another expertly crafted installment to the Grishaverse. It gave me everything I needed after the first book. The group dynamics and banter become even better, the constantly twisting and utterly creative plot featured our beloved band of morally grey outcasts pulling off even more unbelievable plays. I loved every minute of it, and I was overjoyed to see that all three romantic pairings were explored more in this book. However, whilst I loved the romantic pairings, I liked that they weren’t the focus and were more about connection than romance per se.
I loved all the characters, and this book gave us more time to spend with them enjoying their utterly insane plans. Watching these crazy schemes come to fruition was one of my favorite things, Kaz was the most intriguing protagonists that I’ve read about for a long time, as he is far more morally dark than usual which result in some very interesting twists. All the character's histories and life experiences have made them all fascinating to read about and it was wonderful seeing some of their pasts really come to life in this book. A lot of subplots were explored and linked in expertly with the overarching story that made the book an even more captivating read. Some new characters were introduced (or potentially old characters if you’ve read the original trilogy?) which I thought was a great addition to the story and I look forward to seeing this explored further in the King of Scars series.
The reason this book stood out to me more than Six of Crows (which I also loved) was that the overall theme was healing and hope. Whilst the first book gave us an excellent introduction to the world and the characters and really started out love for them, the second book captured a lot more meaning than that. This book focussed on healing their group from the events of the first book and really showing us what the characters truly thought was important. They were fighting for each other and for the hope they had for their futures. This book had a lot of intense impactful scenes that particularly highlighted the cruelty of some people, but the Dregs showed time and again that they were a family in this book and that they would do what needed to be done for each other. The narrative Bardugo continued throughout the book showed us the importance not of fixing yourself but of learning how to cope with what life gives you were beautifully articulated throughout and made it a very special book to read.
Another aspect of the book that really stood out to me was the moral code that the Dregs lived by. Ultimately, they wanted to expose those who had no code of honor, those who thought they could do anything. I loved how this book came full circle and really had the perfect ending - not one a could have predicted - but one that was a satisfying end to so many different aspects of this series. It felt so wonderful to see some stories come full circle while some have a lot more adventures to go through yet.
Overall, this book was a beautifully written follow up that gave me everything I needed and more. The crazy schemes were even more fantastic in this sequel and the group dynamic was incredibly special. The underlying themes throughout this book made it very impactful and though it's 500+ pages it flew by, as it was gripping all the way through.
Rating: 5 Stars