Disclaimer: This is a review, and as such will contain opinions, spoilers and (often) general shit talking. (If you talk about what you don’t like about a work, you learn a lot. When you think through a work with the stakes presented to you by the creator, by the context of the work, you learn a lot. I review things, not because I love to dislike things, but because dislike contains rich and vital information for the process of experiencing something, but I cannot access it without interrogating it.) So, if you don’t want to have this thing spoiled for you, or don’t know how to behave when a person on the internet, that you don’t know, has opinions that don’t line up with yours, this review is not for you. It’s also not for the author/creator of the work. Please and thank you.

Six of Crows is a masterpiece.

The start drags a bit as we slog through the prologue, but things pick up as soon as we hit the parlay and things get super interesting all of a sudden.

The layering of tension in the parlay scene is great, really exciting.

That every character has their own voice in the audiobook (their own narrator) works well with the story, though I wish there was more coherence in how they all pronounced the names of characters and places.

I didn’t enjoy the male narrator, he made the women in his chapters sound frail and distressed. He also pronounced the names oddly.

The female narrator pronounced the names right and made the characters seem gritty and street smart, which was very appropriate.

The romance elements seem clunky right off the bat.

There’s a feeling of wanting to build up to it, but it just seems awkward (and not in an intentional way), particularly between Kaz and Inej.

In contrast, Nina and Matthias’ ship just shines from the very start, making me think that shipping Kaz and Inej was added as an afterthought.

The characters are well developed and have long, involved backstories.

In some cases, I could have done with less backstory because six full backstories is a lot. I think it may have worked better if some of the characters would have had lighter, less involved backstories.

There was a lot of unnecessary violence throughout the story, but this became particularly evident in the backstories. In some cases, the violence clouded the dramatic impact and I feel that it turned into a bit of a crutch to explain or resolve things with violence.

The first book, Six of Crows, had really good pacing, it kept things moving, showed a lot of character growth and allowed for each of the six crows to really shine.

It’s easy to root for each of them and their collective win when they ride the tank out of the Ice Court at the end is a great mental image and a wonderful success for the characters.

Six of Crows ends on a somewhat predictable cliffhanger but had me wanting to pick up Crooked Kingdom ASAP.

Then I ran into the mirror world of book two where things were muddier than in book one.

Crooked Kingdom flourishes in never-ending action.

Yet it didn’t seem to go anywhere.

It becomes more like a repetition, where the length of the book is stretched out with McGuffin jobs, one thing after another popping up because the Crows need something to do.

It seemed like a lot of scheming for the sake of scheming.

The story is so wholly focused on cramming in more action, that it fails to reach that upper level of exponential feels, as it could have if they had more time to work on how they feel.

It’s no secret that I have a thing for cunning and ruthless thieves who definitely aren’t hiding their vulnerabilities, and I was completely fangirling over Kaz in the first book.

But he becomes too much of a magical genius in book two and loses credibility because of it.

I wanted to see more from him, especially since so much went into his backstory, I wanted to see him conquer his own demjins, but no.

But the thing that really makes me feel like Bardugo betrays her characters, as well as the reader (and consequently the series as a whole), was by pointlessly killing off a main character.

Because, spoiler, Matthias dies.

It was anti-climactic because it wasn’t even related to what they were doing, more like it was just another afterthought jammed into the stacks later.

Not to mention that the narrative consequence of it is disappointing, at best.

Matthias, who fights a hard, long battle against his own convictions, to finally shrug off his brainwashing and open up to trust and love, is then punished for his transformation with death.

Really, Bardugo? He deserves better than that.

And so does Nina, who’s left hanging like a shredded rag at the end with her grief.

She also underwent a personal transformation that’s punished with death, and I have to assume this could easily lead her to become bitter and close herself off from love altogether.

That’s just sad.

And I don’t read fiction for realism (just real enough) so this is a big blow against the second book.

The other two relationships don’t really go anywhere either.

Kaz kind of tries to redeem himself but, again, without that personal growth, it just doesn’t feel earned. So, Kaz and Inej don’t have a satisfying ending.

And neither do Jesper and Wylan, they just kind of fade into normal life.

Sadly, the book drags on in the end without allowing me proper goodbyes.

And I understand ending with a mirror chapter from Pekka Rawlins, but all that did was leave me with an after-image on unnecessary violence.

What I really wanted to come away with was to see the six of the main characters, who struggled both with their jobs and themselves throughout the story, in satisfying endings.

I got none of that.

I think if book one would have been longer, it would have been a cleaner end to the story. Extending it into a second book just made it messy and unnecessarily long.

Did I enjoy it?

I really did until I didn’t.

I enjoyed Six of Crows a lot more than Crooked Kingdom, because the set-up is just that much stronger than the denouement.

This was a part of my “reading about thieves” project and if you wanna read about thieves and magic, there’s better series out there.

Matthias’ fate just ruined my enjoyment of it, and now whenever I head Six of Crows or Leigh Bardugo, the first thing that pops into my mind is how she did Matthias so dirty.

Matthias death frustrated me for days. It was so pointless.

Rapid-fire round:

  • Did the book meet your expectations? Six of Crows, yes. Crooked Kingdom, no.
  • Who was your favourite character in the book and why? I really liked Nina and Matthias as a set.
  • Who was your least favourite character in the book and why? I think Inej was the most bland, very standard fantasy young heroine.
  • Did you relate to any of the characters? Matthias was a really good embodiment of growing and changing, until he wasn’t.
  • What themes or messages did you take away from the book? Don’t do the hard work of un-brainwashing yourself, it only gets you killed in the most anti-climactic way.
  • Was there anything in the book that surprised you or that you didn’t expect? The tank scene was awesome.
  • What did you think of the ending of the book? It was underwhelming and overshadowed by my irritation that Matthias was dead.
  • What do you think the author’s intention was with the book? What message or theme do you think they were trying to convey? I think the point was to write a thieves/heist story, not for the love of that theme but more just because it’s a very YA thing.
  • Which part of the book did you find most memorable? Matthias dying for no reason.
  • Did you find any aspects of the book confusing or unclear? Matthias dying for no reason.
  • Were there any moments in the book that made you emotional or had a strong impact on you? Matthias dying for no reason.

Want to get more out of reading books?

Grab this FREE guide on how to start a reading journal, complete with review templates, reading trackers and bingo sheets.

Understand yourself better as a reader, engage more with the books you read & create space for creative self-expression. Download now!

When Sasha Barrett gets bitten by a snake on a mission, her squad captain’s quick actions not only save her life, but also make her realise something she may have known all along…

Read it for FREE right here! 🎉