“The Crooked Kingdom” by Leigh Bardugo

“The Crooked Kingdom” by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #2, Grishaverse
Published: 20 September, 2016 by Henry Holt and Company
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 546
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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So, this post was supposed to be up almost a month ago now as part of the My TBR List meme. But life happened. I spent my spring in a Benadryl-induced haze to get through one of the worst allergy seasons I’ve experienced. And then when I was finally feeling like a human again, I started traveling and having adventures. I went to New Orleans and ate beignets at Cafe du Monde. I went to a vampire speakeasy and sipped St. Germain out of a potion flask. I went to the ocean and observed the mating rituals of horseshoe crabs. And then I finally came back home and decided to tell you how awesome The Crooked Kingdom is and why you should read it now.

The Crooked Kingdom is the sequel to Six of Crows, and together the books form a duology set in the Grishaverse world. Duologies are my jam. With trilogies, middle book syndrome is prevalent. With duologies, you have get the rush of wondering what happens next and how the story will conclude, but without a book that often feels like filler and setup rather than a complete story.

If you didn’t read the first book yet, here’s the series in a nutshell with as few spoilers as possible. Both series feature characters who live on the streets of Ketterdam. Kaz is the ringleader of the gang. He’s been on the streets for a long time, and is the brains of the operation. Then there’s Jesper, who is a gambling addict with secret powers that he is afraid to use. Inej, known as the Wraith, is skilled in acrobatics. Wylan is a nobleman who can’t read and who has been disowned. Nina is a former Grisha soldier, and Matthias, her crush, is a former Grisha hunter. The characters come together in the first book to carry out a heist that will make all of them rich if it succeeds. But of course, in a non-spoilery way, life isn’t that simple, and The Crooked Kingdom is the story of Kaz and the gang dealing with the fallout of the events from Six of Crows. Inej is in trouble, and Kaz and the gang need to find a way to save her before it’s too late.

One of the things that I adore about this series is that all of the characters are so complex. In The Crooked Kingdom, each of the characters has their own story arc, and grows as a person. And this is also a story where some of the characters need to grapple with their feelings for each other. So Kaz has always had a thing for Inej, and when Inej is captured, those feelings are something Kaz can’t ignore anymore. Well, he can try to ignore them, but he has to grapple with them, because he realizes he likes her for more than just her acrobatics skills. Or Wylan, who has a thing for Jesper, but who also has to get over his inferiority complex in order to act on his feelings. He has to learn to value himself as a person despite his shortcomings, instead of listening to the voice in his own head that tells him he isn’t worthy of love. And all of that character development is happening in the middle of a grand adventure, because Kaz has a plan that will not only save Inej, but will also allow them to get some revenge, get rich, and maybe even save the world.

I highly recommend this series. The Crooked Kingdom is exciting. It’s beautifully written, and the characters and the world come to life on the page. It’s unputdownable. And the book itself is gorgeous, with the rich red page edges. It feels luxurious and indulgent, exactly the way a good story should be.

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