Crooked Kingdom ★★★★★
Genre(s) | Young Adult, Fantasy
Goodreads Rating | 4.62
Humpo Show Rating | 5.00
Published | 2016
Publisher | Orion
Unpredictable. Unique. Unforgettable.
Kaz Brekker and his merry band of outcasts have pulled off the seemingly impossible heist of Ice Court. But rather than swimming in reward money, they are trying to stay afloat amidst the tides of dangerous people that want them dead. Their arrival back in Ketterdam has made an almighty splash due to them possessing a very valuable and sought after individual, an individual that could start or end a war. With enemies on all sides, and with survival, not to mention victory, at long and insurmountable odds, Kaz, Inej, Nina et al, need to come up with something that is truly extraordinary, if they fail the city of Ketterdam will have bettered them and they will be forgotten, as if they were drowned rats.
Every chapter is quote-worthy. Every character is well-developed. Every detail is minutely placed. Bardugo has orchestrated a compelling and addictive story which keeps the reader guessing until the very last. Her idiosyncratic writing style, which she maintains throughout her duology, ensures that the reader’s interest never wavers, whether it is the plethora of actions sequences that Kaz and the gang are involved in, or the internal monologues that give a personal insight into a combination of hopeful and agonising thoughts that every character has. There is no better evidence of Bardugo’s beautiful style, in terms of writing and her novel’s structure, than chapters 34-38, where our beloved characters demonstrate their personality growth during their personal battles. My heart almost burst with pride when reading these chapters, as I felt a connection to each of the characters as they have progressed through both novels, whether it be a fear they’ve overcome, a responsibility that they’ve risen to meet, or a feeling that they’ve held back and finally enacted on.
They all had their specific role in the heist, their abilities were utilised for different jobs back in Ketterdam, but each one of “the gang” are infinitely more than the label assigned to them. Wylan, who was arguably viewed as the outsider of the group at the beginning of Six of Crows given that the reason for his presence was linked to his father, Van Eck, but in Crooked Kingdom, his character development is heart-warming and was a pleasure to witness. His personal adventure that he went on helped to sculpt his character into someone who is stronger than the person he was when he entered the wicked, wacky and wonderful world of Kaz Brekker. Wylan also brought out the best in Jesper, and I am sure many readers were jumping for joy at one particular moment in the book!
The culmination of Bardugo’s extraordinary story makes for emotional reading at the end as all the planning, schemes and confrontations have finished, and all that’s left is the characters that have earned a place in our hearts. The final moments made me shed a tear or two, which is testament to the manner that Bardugo has written her characters who I now consider my fictional friends who I one day will reunite with, as this duology has found a special place in my heart. Leigh Bardugo, thank you and I love you!
Favourite Quote: Her heart was a river that carried her to the sea.
I hope I have done justice in this review to Bardugo’s creation. For those still on the fence on whether to pick this duology up, think on this: if a book is able to make you care for a character enough to shed tears for them, then you will remember that book for the way it has moved you, and why you’ll always love it. I’ll leave you with The Independent’s tagline for Crooked Kingdom: “Ocean’s Eleven set in a Game of Thrones-esque period.”
The Humpo Show | Richard