Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Published September 2016
Genre(s): YA, Fantasy
“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”
Summary (from Goodreads)
Welcome to the world of the Grisha.
Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts 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 badly weakened, 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 the Grisha world.
“Crows remember human faces. They remember the people who feed them, who are kind to them. And the people who wrong them too. They don’t forget. They tell each other who to look after and who to watch out for.”
**This book is the sequel to Six of Crows, so there may be spoilers for it.**
There isn’t much I can say about this book that I didn’t say for the first one. The found family, the characters who aren’t really heroes, and the wonderful connection between everything that goes on, they are all things that are found in both books and I love it so much.
We get to see a lot more of each character’s past in this book. I didn’t really see the need for it in terms of the first book, but once I was reading about it all in the second book, I didn’t understand how I hadn’t wanted to know it. We get to learn so much more about all of our beloved characters.
The one thing that was much more prominent in this book that I loved was the romantic relationships between the characters. And as someone who doesn’t like romance and love all of the ones presented in this book, that’s saying something. During the first book, it’s pretty obvious which characters will end up together, and all of them just work so well. Not just that, but each of them have a different ending that works for them and works so well on the readers’ feelings. I don’t usually appreciate romance in a lot of YA books, but this story, I was all for every single relationship because they all worked and they all came naturally and I don’t feel like the romance wasn’t just this thing that was added for the sake of things, but in order to mirror real life and help the characters grow individually. We saw pain and hurt and happiness and true love and it was beautiful.
We’re reminded time and time again that our characters are merely humans who all ended up there for different reasons, and I feel like this book hits this home.
Also, the revelations at the end of the first book hit really hard in this one. Jesper’s entire forgiveness arc was heartbreaking and touching and just full of every type of emotion, and we were able to see not just the bond he has with the Crows, but the one he has with his father. For Jesper especially, we’re able to really understand exactly what made him the way he was and why he took the road he did. And we’re able to watch him grow. And the trials that Jesper went through with his feelings for Wylan really just helped us see his character so much.
As for Nina and Matthias, they were the couple that fought all the time and had endless trials to face together, and it was hard and deep and heartbreaking and different from the usual couples you see in YA novels. They had a past, and they were broken, but despite that, they did their best.
Now to mention Kaz and Inej. They were my favorite in this book because their relationship wasn’t as simple as saying “I love you” or reaching out to take the other’s hand. I felt they had the most beautiful ending. In fact, it wasn’t built on anything at all except for trust and a sense of understanding. And this book turns love into this creation that isn’t as simple as it seems or always in the same “package”. Instead, sometimes it’s just there and you don’t know what to do about it, and that’s okay. The ending scene between these two could not have been better.
Another thing I loved about this story was that every character realized what their next step would be, but that doesn’t mean they achieved it. Each character figured out their dream, but they all still had challenges to face before they could get there, and we were left with an open ending of what exactly would happen yet. We were told that our characters still had a life left to live, but this time they would be writing their own stories and not letting anyone else decide it for them.
These are humans who just happen to be considered criminals, but they’re smart enough to decide their own futures, and they still have a lot to learn. But they’re strong enough to make it. And it tells us readers, so are we.