Book Review – Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I knew this book would wreck me.

Not long ago, I sent an email to a friend with a bunch of book recommendations in it (more than he bargained for, I’m sure, but he didn’t know who he was dealing with), and I said that I sometimes put off reading the final books in series, because I don’t want things to end. I often get overwhelmed with my own feelings and feel empty and lost for days, sometimes weeks after. I knew that would happen when I finished this book. Other people had said it, and I’ve heard people ask Leigh Bardugo on panels if she’s ever going to continue the stories of these characters. She has always said that the Six of Crows bunch ends their stories in Crooked Kingdom, but some of the characters might appear in later books in the world, much like Zoya, Genya, and Sturmhond make appearances in Crooked Kingdom. This story stuck with people. And I’m weaker than most when it comes to fictional characters.

There was a reason I put off reading these books for so long. Because I knew they would wreck me. But here I go anyway.

Note: There will be spoilers for Six of Crows in this review, because how could there not be? So I’m going to assume that, if you’re reading this, you have at least read Six of Crows.

Crooked Kingdom starts days after Six of Crows ends. The team is trying to find a way to get Inej back while also taking down Jan Van Eck. But they keep getting undermined, and most of the world has sent delegations to Ketterdam hoping to find Kuwei Yul-Bo and the secrets to jurda parem. Not only that, but Jesper’s father shows up because a bank told him they’re going to take the farm, and Van Eck has gotten some other parties involved in his cause. The six crows have their backs to the wall, and it looks like everything is going against them.

But everyone seems to forget that they have Kaz Brekker.

crooked kingdom

3 Things I Loved

  1. The positive messages. There are two things that struck me in this book that I’m not sure Leigh Bardugo was necessarily intending, but that came across anyway. First – there is an anti human trafficking message that is slipped so perfectly into this fantasy world that people might actually miss it. But it’s there, and I saw it before I read Leigh’s acknowledgements at the end (if you’re not reading acknowledgements at the end of books, SHAME ON YOU, they’re so insightful). And if anyone can fight human trafficking one person at a time, it’s Inej. ❤ Second – there is a message of acceptance of differences, an anti prejudice message, and it hit me like a rock to the face. Matthias and Nina are basically sworn enemies, their countries constantly at war. But they love each other, and they want to fight that prejudice to their dying days. I LOVE THAT. I love everything about this story. I want more. I want everything for these characters.
  2. The diversity. This sort of fits into the previous number on this list, but I wanted it to be its own thing (like David Pumpkins). This is one of the most diverse fantasies I’ve ever read. There are characters from all countries, of all colors, speaking all languages. Kaz and Wylan are the only natives of Kerch, the only ones who speak only Kerch. Inej is Suli, from Ravka, and also speaks Suli. Jesper is half Zemini and half Kaelish and speaks all three languages to some degree; he’s also a Grisha. Nina is a Ravkan Grisha who speaks Ravkan, Kerch, Kaelish, Fjerdan, and possibly other languages. And Matthias is a Fjerdan drüskelle who learned Kerch in prison. It’s a strange, diverse, NORMAL group of young people who form a family out of their differences. I want to cry just talking about them. I’m going to have to read these books again. I’m aching.
  3. The characters and the ships. If you want to go back and read my Six of Crows review from late last week, you’ll see that I love each and every one of these main characters. In addition, I’ve complained in other book reviews (coughTHRONEOFGLASSSERIEScough) that I hate when all the characters end up pairing up. But in this book, it just worked. There wasn’t a love triangle in sight (unless you count Jesper’s mistaken kiss BUT I DON’T) and these characters were all meant for each other and all had these feelings before the books began and I want them all to be so happy. They’re not. I know they’re not. Especially Nina (I CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT YET), who deserves everything. But the one person I want to talk the most about is Kaz. He grew, and it was like watching my own child grow. He’s got PTSD. He’s got a crippling phobia. And he tries to pretend that his heart has hardened beyond repair. And maybe that’s true in his attitudes toward most people, but not Inej, and not Jesper. Even if he can’t say it and even if we don’t see it, I believe that Inej is going to be Kaz’s light in the darkness. And it’s going to be because he finds it in himself to want to be with her, not because she forces him or anything. (Not that anyone could force Kaz Brekker to do anything anyway.) And Jesper is Jordie’s stand in now, and that breaks my heart and then puts it back together. I TOLD YOU, I’M KAZ TRASH, AND I’M COOL WITH IT.

Dislikes/Problematic Content

The only thing I even remotely disliked about this books is that it left me feeling so empty afterward. These characters and this world were so full, so gloriously, wonderfully, stupidly interesting and fun that I feel like something is missing now. I want to know what’s going to happen to everyone. I want to know how they grow.

And I want Inej to always have the last word. ALWAYS.


A reminder of the rating scale:

  • Red = DNF, I hated everything
  • Orange = Ugh, no thank you
  • Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
  • Green = This was good! 
  • Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
  • Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!

I held off on giving Six of Crows the true purple rating that it deserved because I know that not everyone likes fantasy. But this is the sequel, y’all, so if you’re reading this, YOU LIKE FANTASY. And therefore, Crooked Kingdom gets a PURPLE rating from me. It’s the purplest. It’s the best thing I’ve read in ages.

It’s everything. ❤

I need to talk to people who have read these books in order to move on. HIT ME UP IF YOU’VE ALSO READ THEM AND WERE ALSO DESTROYED. I’m wrecked. I’m such Kaz trash that it’s not even funny. And the part where Nina tells Matthias that he’s better than waffles, and he tells her not to say things she doesn’t mean, MY LOVE??? I’M DEAD I CAN’T SOMEONE HELP ME.

Happy reading (if happiness still exists, I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING)!



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