Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series? Yes, 1 of 2.
Rating: 5/5 stars
THE HYPE IS REAL, YOU GUYS!!
I was a little skeptical about this book, as I wasn’t too impressed with Shadow and Bone. My doubts have all been dispeled, as Six of Crows is the bestest ever and turned me into a mad Leigh Bardugo fangirl. It was so perfect I couldn’t stop talking about it in ALL CAPS, I also refused to read another book for another couple of days. It was so difficult writing my thoughts down so here, have another list!
1. An Ensemble Cast of Badass
In my opinion, multiple POVs in short 400-pages long novels usually fall short on the character development front. I could not connect with the cast of Legacy of Kings or the characters in Zeroes. However, everyone in Six of Crows are precious darlings that holds a little piece of my heart. I love heists, I love it even more when the crew is this flawfree.
Kaz Brekker didn’t need a reason. Those were the words whispered on the streets of Ketterdam, in the taverns and coffeehouses, in the dark and bleeding alleys of the pleasure district known as the Barrel. The boy they called Dirtyhands didn’t need a reason any more than he needed permission – to break a leg, sever an alliance, or change a man’s fortunes with the turn of a card.
First, there’s Kaz, our unscrupulous mastermind and anti-hero. From a wee bitty street rat, Kaz has built up his own legend in the city. He is known throughout all of Ketterdam as Dirtyhands, as the Bastard of the Barrells, as a demon – all titles he accumulated by the tender age of 17. Kaz lives up to this image as a monster. While he’s never cruel, he’s efficient and ruthlessly intelligent. Kaz is not one to shy away from blackmail, violence, manipulation, and espionage to attain his goal.
“Besides, she was the Wraith-the only law that applied to her was gravity, and some days she defied that, too”
Then there’s Inej, as Leigh Bardugo puts it, she’s the Robin to Kaz’s Batman. Except that’s somewhat a poor analogy because Inej is more than just a sidekick. Initially born free, Inej was kidnapped and forced into a brothel as a young girl. Kaz helped free her from The House of The Exotics, he also helped her reinvent her identity as the dangerous and elusive Wraith of Ketterdam. Inej is now a formidable spy, with gravity defying ability to scale walls and move unseen. Though she’s had to dabble in her fair share of bloodspill and mayhem, Inej still has a strong moral core and serves as a great foil to Kaz.
Nina just liked to flirt with everything. He’d once seen her make eyes at a pair of shoes she fancied in a shop window.
Nina is the team’s resident Grisha, with the ability to crush hearts and lay men to waste with a flick of her finger. Nina is my spirit animal, my patronus and my everything. I love that despite her fearsome power and her less than ideal life, she never forgets to indulge in the little luxuries of life. The girl wine, dine and appreciates great clothes. Yes, Nina is feminine, but she’s also fiercely smart and dangerous. All the while, she is also compassionate and steadfastly loyal towards her loved ones. She is basically awesome.
Though I love the three above, I only liked the other three in the crew. Matthias is the rigid Fjerdan, who’s tough exteriors hide a wall of doubts and feels. Jesper is the crew’s quick-witted, gambling addict of a sharpshooter. Finally there’s Wyland, who’s cute and unassuming exterior hides a explosive, artistic and musical prodigy, In every other book, they could have been compelling characters. In Six of Crows, I felt they were outshined by their more complex and engaging team mates.
2. Great Dialogue, Great Pacing, Great Writing
“Our hopes rest with you, Mister Brekker. If you fail, all the world will suffer for it.”
“Oh, it’s worse than that, Van Eck. If I fail, I don’t get paid.”
The writing in Six of Crows was simply arresting. With the plot moving along at breakneck speed, I could hardly tear myself away from the pages and secretly wished for all other humans to disappear while I devoured the book. The plot covered everything from dramatic gang wars, to exhilarating action scenes, to thrilling multi-nation conflicts. I love the hint that this book only scratches at the surface of the greater world, I am so excited for the sequel.
“Wylan,” Jesper said, giving him a little shake. “Maybe your tutors didn’t cover this lesson, but you do not argue with a man covered in blood and a knife up his sleeve.”
I tend to dislike books littered with one-liners, as I feel the dialogue can come across as stilted and forced (looking at you, City of Bones) It totally works here, though. From Kaz’s and Nina’s smart mouth, to Inej’s Suli wisdom, to Matthias’s awkward blunders in social etiquette, to Jesper’s sharp tongue, and Wyland’s self-deprecating humour – all the characters are brought to life by their sparkling dialogue. My kindle is filled with highlights from this book, I want to quote all of the things.
“If it were a trick, I’d promise you safety. I’d offer you happiness. I don’t know if that exists in the Barrel, but you’ll find none of it with me.”
For some reason, those words had comforted her. Better terrible truths than kind lies.
I shipped Kaz and Inej almost instantaneously. Come on: A demon and his wraith? A religious spy and her immoral gang leader? A pair that strikes fear in the heart of Ketterdam’s criminal society? HOW COULD I NOT LOVE! All their scenes are filled with so much tension. The innate conflict of her freedom VS her loyalty to him makes my heart twist a little. I love them so much together, yet I love that they still stand as full individuals even while they’re apart. I have all of their scenes saved into my memory forever, I have not shipped this hard since Todd/Viola of The Chaos Walking trilogy. I miss being a fangirl *sighs contently*
Traitor, witch, abomination. All those words came to him, but others crowded in, too: beautiful, charmed one. Röed fetla, he’d called her, little red bird, for the colour of her Grisha Order. The colour she loved
There’s also the fiery relationship between Nina and Matthias. One a Grisha, the other a Grisha-hunter, needless to say their relationship is tumultuous – muddled by their previous prejudices against one another’s culture. It part hate, part obsession, part passion – and totally difficult to look away from.
Good things come in three, so there’s a third pairing that comes later on in the book — while I like the idea of them, I wish they had more time together onscreen for their relationship to become more fully fleshed out. I never got fully onboard, BUT I WANT TO. I hope this will be resolved promptly in the next book as I have room enough in my heart for three ships, I really do!
Another kind of ship all abound in Six of Crows is the FRIENDSHIP. The crew don’t only interact with their love interests *gasp* They also have meaningful interactions with one another. My favourite is the lady friendship between Inej and Nina – the two girls are different as night and day, but I love how they instinctively understand one another. HEARTS!
4. Vivid Worldbuilding and Mythology
Ketterdam – a canvas of black, grey, and brown, tangled streets dense with mist and coalsmoke, ships of every kind in the harbour, pulsing with the rush and bustle of trade. Djerholm’s harbour was crowded with ships, but its tidy streets marched to the water in orderly fashion, and the houses were painted such colours – red, blue, yellow, pink – as if in defiance of the wild white land and the long winters this far north.
First there’s the setting – from the gray, severe underbelly of the Barrell. There’s the austere luxury of the merchant’s villas. There’s also the beautiful but frigid Fjerda, all described in loving detail. While I felt Shadow and Bone was a bit light as a fantasy, Six of Crows build upon the world in the Grisha trilogy and gives it more complexity.
One of the most important things about world building is the cultures within that world, after all – they dictate how people behave. With the crew, we have a whole bunch of different religious and cultural background clashing with one another. Through their interaction, we get a glimpse at the wider world and I adored it!
6. IT’S FREAKING GORGEOUS
Have you seen the hardcover? HAVE YOU SEEN THE HARDCOVER? I would buy a thousand copies and build a fort if I could. LOOK AT THESE PHOTOS.
WOW THAT WAS QUITE THE ESSAY. I REGRET NOTHING.
Six of Crows was wicked and astonishing in the best possible way. Definitely one of my favourite reads this year and a contender for top 10 ever. READ IT. BUY IT. BORROW IT. SCREAM IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! *clutches book to chest forever*