Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom
Leigh Bardugo
Orion Children’s Books
Available September 27, 2016

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About Crooked Kingdom

Kaz Brekker and his crew 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 left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, 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 magic in the Grisha world.

find-amazonMy Review

Six of Crows was my favorite book from last year, so I had this one on pre-order almost as soon as it was possible to do so. And once it arrived, I couldn’t wait to dig into it.

I feel like a sequel always has an uphill battle because, especially in the case of a fantasy, the first book got to wow us with its incredibly fresh setting and culture, and by the second book, we’re kind of like, yep. Right. Ketterdam. I remember. But again I felt so overwhelmed by the richness of the storyworld. Each nation feels distinct racially and culturally, yet the setting doesn’t swallow the story or elbow the characters out of the way to shine. It just is.

This book finishes the story begun by Six of Crows. There won’t be a third book, and in a lot of ways, I didn’t end this one feeling like I needed another one. Things aren’t all clean and perfect, but there are some incredible redemptive moments, and there were so many exchanges where I was like YES! THANK YOU!!! Because it was something that absolutely needed to happen.

I loved the banter between characters. The way they had their own sorts of inside jokes and ways of communicating with one another definitely made me feel like I was part of the circle and that they had real, dynamic relationships.

This is the only novel that has made me really want to write fan fiction. I might have to do it. Maybe. I love the idea of more adventures for these characters. Short stories that happen after-the-end. So I might have to think about that.

Overall, yes. I’m so glad I read this book. I couldn’t have left off with Six of Crows without reading this one all the way to the end. I definitely recommend Crooked Kingdom to anyone who enjoyed the first book. I think the content may be a bit heavier in this one. See below for details.

add-goodreadsCultural Elements
Though it’s a fantasy novel in a fantasy world, there’s a lot of racial diversity in this cast of characters.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
M/f and m/m kisses. There are hints and comments about sex, most are pretty veiled. One character was forced into prostitution earlier in her life and she briefly recollects some gruesome details about her experience there and the emotional scars it has left her.

Spiritual Content
Matthias is a devout follower of Djel, a god associated with a tree. In Ketterdam, the god of trade, Ghezen is chief, and church is a trading house.

Violent Content
Some scenes show brawls and fights. An assassin attacks a girl. A young woman falls from a rooftop to her death. Kaz describes revenge taken against someone who helped take advantage of two young boys. A man is shot fatally. Thugs beat up a boy who won’t reveal information about his allies.

Drug Content
Nina wrestles with craving for the drug jurda parem, which she took in a desperate attempt to save the team at the end of Six of Crows.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Useful review! I too thought that SIX OF CROWS was a great read, but I wasn’t anxious to read CROOKED KINGDOM since I felt cheated by a false ending. The other thing is, these characters have no business being teenagers. I feel Bardugo (a masterful world builder) wrote characters in their 20s and 30s but shoved them into teen bodies just to stay in the YA genre. You may disagree. Thanks for the post!

    • Thanks, Emily. I know what you mean about the ending of Six of Crows. I’m not generally a huge fan of a cliffhanger ending. On the characters, I agree with you. They are much more like adults than teens. I think fantasy writers often get away with this because we think of them the way we think of medieval characters who basically had jobs and adult live by the time they were 14 or 15. But yes… that thought occurred to me, too. It definitely couldn’t have flown as YA in the contemporary genre, I think.