Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Rating: 5/5 stars
Series? Yes. 2 of 2.
Note: This post will contain spoilers for the prequel, Six of Crows. It will be completely spoiler-free for Crooked Kingdom.
Six of Crows was one of my favourite releases of last year, making Crooked Kingdom my #1 anticipated book of 2016. The conclusion to this epic duology delivered in every way possible. Crooked Kingdom enthralled and delighted, even while some of the content reduced me to tears. Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper, and Wylan will forever be marked as one of my most beloved fictional crew.
No Mourners, No Funerals
First, let’s talk characters! The friendship forged between our beloved six outcasts remain my favourite thing (in a very long list) about this series. Not only do the characters have meaningful, heartbreaking relationships with their respective romantic partners – they also share beautiful moments with platonic members of the crew. Crooked Kingdom is filled with character bonding, as well as interaction and development within the numerous friendships within the main group.
My favourite friendships are the quiet camaraderie between Inej and Jesper, and the beautiful way Inej and Nina’s contrasting personalities mesh together. However, the best scenes are ones of the six of them together, bantering and scheming – and moments which demonstrate time and again that this crew understand and accept one another, flaws and all. They are my OT6 and no one can ever take this away from me.
[He] summoned every bit of bravado he’d learned from Nina, the will he’d learned from Matthias, the focus he’d studied in Kaz, the courage he’d learned from Inej, and the wild, reckless hope he’d learned from Jesper, the belief that no matter the odds, somehow they would win.
I love that the friendships between these characters serve a purpose to strengthen their individual character arcs. Even while the crew work seamlessly together, they remain distinct and unique individuals, driven forward by their own goals and personal backstory. The amount of character development in this book is phenomenal. By halfway through the book, I was fully invested in every single story – even for characters we previously did not see much of like Wylan.
And no matter how broken we were we’d fight our way out together…
Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.
Shippers of more romantic interactions will also be immensely satisfied by Crooked Kingdom, even though Leigh Bardugo puts our heart through the shredder and back. The tension is through the roof with this book. Each ship is given time to develop, with the stakes and the intensity amplified to the ninths for this sequel. I suffered from a minor heart attack with every single scene, and I apologise to all the people who had to endure my screeching in DMs as I was reading.
As mentioned before, I love that while the romance was an important part of each character’s story arcs – they had to battle their own demons outside of it. Love does not cure all in Ketterdam. Love is not the easy way out, it gives you the strength to face your own battles, it must be earned tooth and nail.
If you can’t beat the odds, change the game.
Aside from its diverse and charismatic cast of characters, Crooked Kingdom also boasts an arresting storyline, filled with cunning tricks and plot twists. Leigh Bardugo absolutely shines during her fight scenes, with the action becoming almost cinematic. The constantly turning wheels of Kaz Brekker’s mind is also equally formidable. We all love a story about an underdog, and watching Kaz scheme his way numerous setbacks had me on the edge of my seat, but the payoff is always so immensely satisfying.
I felt like I aged about a decade in one day while reading this book, and I mean this in the best way possible. In its short 500+ pages, the plot of Crooked Kingdom took numerous twists and turns – with alliances ever shifting and plans forever being foiled.
In addition to the current timeline, we also got to explore the past of numerous characters. During Six of Crows, we learned extensively about the pasts of Kaz, Inej, Nina, and Matthias. In Crooked Kingdom, moments are also given to the backstory of Jesper and Wylan, and we also discover more about the other characters. By the time the story draws to its conclusions, these characters were rooted so deeply into my heart, I could not bear imagining anything bad happening to them. Let me tell you, tears were shed.
Zoya used to say that fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.
Like its predecessor, Crooked Kingdom is endlessly quotable. My own copy has at least 50 tabs stuck into it from just one read. This book excels at conversations and banter, with quips and one liner never feeling contrived. From the comedic, to the philosophical, to the devious – Leigh Bardugo has it all covered. We also finally see the explanations behind the series’s catchphrase, ‘No Mourners, No Funerals’ in this instalment and it is quite delightful.
I am also over the moon about Six of Crow’s immense success because it proves that there’s a market for awesome fantasy fiction, ESPECIALLY when it contains such a diverse cast of characters. The crew comes from all walks of life, and their differing experiences truly enriched the world they inhabit. More like this, always, please!
Anyway, I am already ready for a reread! This series has skyrocketed into all time favourite list. Although it crushed my heart, it also mended it back together by the end – and it will stay with me for a long time to come. No mourning for its conclusion. because its ending was so utterly perfect for me.
If you’ve read this series, please come and fangirl with me in the below space. If you haven’t, you’re sincerely denying yourself one of YA’s best series in years.