Crooked Kingdom, the second book in the Six of Crows duology, written by Leigh Bardugo, follows our cast of characters as they face a new challenge more dangerous than the last.
After the major heist of the first book, I wondered how Crooked Kingdom would be able to top that, and it did, using smaller yet impactful sneaking moments that worked towards a greater cause.
The characters became fully developed midway through the book. Jesper and Wylan remained the same enjoyable characters but with an interesting back story, such as the introduction of Jesper’s dad that propelled the story while adding new personal stakes. Wylan had a complex relationship with his father that added sympathy towards his character.
We learned more about Inej’s background along with her talents of climbing and moving in silence, and she quickly became my favorite character. As a female character, she is incredibly strong and independent in ways other young adult book protagonists miss. She is sure of her abilities without being arrogant, which is what we see in characters such as Aelin Galathynius from the Throne of Glass series. Arrogance seems to be overused in young adult female protagonists, therefore seeing a character who is so strong yet humble and doesn’t need others to see her abilities or lose a fight to her to feel confident she is capable, is a great person to look up to. Due to this, Inej became one of my favorite female protagonists.
We were also given more backstory on Kaz that explained his negative disposition and we got to see him grow from the hatred he had. This made him likable/understandable in the end, adding some humanity to his morally grey character. My only problems with characters were with Nina and Matthias. I didn’t feel as connected to Nina and mainly found myself annoyed by her points of view and actions. Matthias was a character I never liked from the beginning, although he did show positive development.
I loved the relationship between Kaz and Inej. Many young adult authors tend to rush romance between characters that don’t appear to be emotionally or mentally prepared for a relationship. This was a very slow-burning romance that worked perfectly and made sense between the two. Despite not ending with any real physical connection, there was an emotional one that alluded to the fact that these two characters would get together in the future when they are prepared. It doesn’t make their relationship the most important aspect of their story, which makes sense considering the stakes at hand.
I especially loved the introduction of characters from the Shadow and Bone series because it reminded me of the vast setting and was incredibly enjoyable to see unlikely characters interact, such as Nikolai and Kaz. The Grisha powers are explored more in this book than the last, especially with the ability-enhancing Jurda Parem being abused. There were also many misdirects and twists throughout the book that kept me on edge and my emotions were like a rollercoaster.
To digress, I’ve recently learned there will be a tv series about both the Shadow and Bone series and the Six of Crows duology. Nothing has been revealed besides the fact that they are in the middle of casting and location scouting, and I feel as though it’ll be an amazing series. Leigh Bardugo is an executive producer for the show, which gives me hope they will be able to portray the world and the stories in a way that even people who don’t particularly like reading will find enjoyable.
Although I will not be reading the Nikolai centered duology Leigh has recently published simply due to not being particularly interested in learning more of the characters, I do plan on reading future fantasy series by her. I would highly recommend reading any and all of her Grishaverse books, especially before the tv series releases (which won’t be for a while). Her writing and setting is so unique and dark and truly feels as though you are in a whole other world unlike any other you’ve read about before.
Compared to the first book, Crooked Kingdom was a more enjoyable book to read, earning 9/10 dragons.