Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

No, I don’t have the actual book and I’m gutted about it…but I’m so glad for the library and its ebooks.

5 out of 5 stolen stars

Holy. Crap. This is like Ocean’s 11 or The Italian Job meets…..something fantastical that isn’t Game of Thrones. I’m sorry. I’m droppin’ the ball there but I can’t think of a fantasy book this is like. Which is a good thing, in my opinion. This new series is set in the world of the Grisha, where the Shadow and Bone series took place. Do you need to read that to read this? No. This has a much different set of characters and plot, the only thing I think you need to know is what Grisha are, as this doesn’t quite spell it out. Basically, they are people born with the ability to affect certain elements. This is set in the wider world than just Ravka (where S&B took place), so the previous books aren’t required to follow this. 

In the beginning, I was a little overwhelmed with all the names and places and proper nouns. Looking back at my notes, I even forgot the beginning – the first chapter which reads like a prologue. We meet a guard working at the house of a merchant. He has a crush on one of the merchant’s indentured Grisha. A fabrikator (Grisha who can make things that are nearly indestructible) has disappeared, and it seems that the guard’s crush has also been “taken.” This is a really disturbing scene, but then we cut away and join our cons and criminals.

The next scene is amazing and introduces us to your main characters. It’s   a parley between the gang lieutenants of the Dregs and Black Tips. This scene sets up the awesome level for the rest of the book. It’s one of the best “squad” scenes I’ve seen and an amazing intro to two of the main characters. Inej, also called the Wraith, is a legend. She was an acrobat as a kid before she was kidnapped by slavers. The Dregs rescued her and trained her to use her skills as a spy. She can disappear into a crowd, scale a building, take out an assassin before he even knows she’s there. Even more famous than the Wraith is her boss, Kaz Brekker, also known as Dirtyhands. He’s the de facto leader of the Dregs, the gang that works out of the Crow Club. I had a hard time getting a feel for him at first. I thought he was much older than he was…but isn’t that always the way with YA? There are a thousand stories about why he always wears gloves. Some say they are stained with the blood of his enemies. They are claws. They are a mass of scars and burns. The truth comes from a tragedy that happened when he was a kid.

That’s one of the strongest things about this book – everyone has a fully-formed backstory and they are peppered in just as you need them. They serve as both character development and things that drive the current plot. Kaz is always plotting, always scheming. He never lets the crew know the whole shape of a job, and it drives them nuts. He doesn’t really trust anyone. There is also a reason why he does it. The author is always surprising you and pulling the rug out from under you – then building you a set of wings so you don’t crash and burn.

There is a motley group of characters in the gang. One of my favorites is Jesper, a lanky sharpshooter who can’t stay away from games of chance. Wylan is a rich kid with a penchant for blowing things up. Nina is a Grisha, a heartrender trained as a weapon. She was also kidnapped – by Fjerdans, a country who think the Grisha are unnatural demons and need to be hunted down and killed. Nina was lucky, but her escape came with a terrible price, paid by someone else. Kaz knows this, and uses it to his advantage.

We hear a bit about some political intrigue, and with it comes an opportunity for the gang. It goes back to the first scene, with the guard and Grisha. The payday for this is beyond their wildest dreams. Each member of the gang has a dream that this money will accomplish, but they don’t realize there is a danger to that payday, from within the group itself.

I think that’s enough info…. I don’t want to ruin anything. Don’t worry – whatever info I may have given you, whatever you think is going to happen isn’t as good as what does. 🙂 Well-rounded is an amazing term for this novel. The setting is a lot of fun – but I did find I needed more, especially when we get to the scene of the crime. At the end when things got intense, they got more intenser, and there was one or two times that I was like, wait, what, who’s where?? But I didn’t slow down my reading for a second to figure it out because I was INVESTED. I cannot wait for the next one!

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