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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

book cover of Crooked Kingdom

I feel super harsh giving this one three stars, but I still feel like it’s where the book deserves to land. Like its predecessor, Six of Crows, it’s essentially a tale about a medley crew of petty criminals pulling off an audacious heist. The problem is that what made the first book so great – the delving into the backgrounds of its characters – was not really done so well here.

To be fair, this book focuses on some different characters. Where Six of Crows was very heavy on Nina and Matthias, this one focuses on Jesper and Wylan (with Inej and Kaz getting roughly the same focus in both books). I guess I found this disappointing because I really liked Nina and Matthias and they took such a backseat here. Nina’s major conflict basically petered out without being resolved, and Matthias didn’t even really have one in this book and then he randomly died for no reason.

Jesper and Wylan were interesting to read about; their relationships to their dad were central to the story (with, indeed, Wylan’s dad being the main antagonist), and their romance was sweet (although I wasn’t keen on the spanner that briefly got thrown in the works before they inevitably worked it out). But they weren’t as interesting as Nina and Matthias had been.

The exploration of different types of magic that was so present in the last book didn’t come into things much here (even though the first chapter makes it seem like it will be a big ongoing plot thread). Some questions go unanswered. That was a shame.

Overall, the main focus is about the team’s complicated scheme to outwit Jan Van Eck (and Pekka Rollins while they’re at it), with all other plot threads falling by the wayside in comparison to this. The scheme is fine and all – I did enjoy it – but it wasn’t really my favourite aspect of the first book. It also seemed a bit ridiculous how easily Kaz was able to double-bluff his enemies and predict how the complicated chains of events he’d set in motion would unfold. Their plans did go awry sometimes, but it seemed a really low failure rate given how convoluted some of their schemes were.

So to sum up, this is a good book, but not quite the book I was hoping for after the first one. Still worth reading, if you did enjoy the first.

Books in the Six of Crows duology

  1. Six of Crows
  2. Crooked Kingdom (you are here)

★★★

a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.