"When you can't beat the odds, change the game.
Kaz Brekker and his crew 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." - From Goodreads
Crooked Kingdom is the second/final novel in the high-stakes, fast-paced, magic-tinged fantasy duology by Leigh Bardugo that began with Six of Crows, and what an ending it was.
I've already read Bardugo's Grisha trilogy, loved it immensely, so was excited a few years back to hear about her new series. The duology is set in the same world, just a different part of it (and a later time period) Think of Ketterdam as Amsterdam + 1920s Chicago versus Ravka's Tsarist Russia.
Also, whereas the trilogy was more fantasy based, the duology has more of a heist/gangster, film-noir feel to it, with magic and fantasy blended in.
I, obviously, have a great love of fantasy, whether it be epic, out of this world, or influenced by our own, and Bardugo has demonstrated an amazing ability to make you feel both rooted in reality while taking you far far away.
Her plots are intricate; the chapters are told in third person, alternating between the six members of Kaz Brekker's (our fearless leader) makeshift gang, each with their own voice, their own secrets, and their own reasons for being where they are. It twists and turns, sometimes resetting a particular moment so that the reader can find out each persons role in whatever plan has been formed and was set in motion.
It is dark and funny, the characters develop amidst shoot outs and dangerous schemes and intimate moments and just enough heartbreak and struggle to remind you that reality is harsh but there is always hope and it is illuminating.
If you like impossible odds, a gang of misfit characters, and luxurious, long-overdue revenge, then I recommend you pick up the duology and have yourself a little fun.
(Some) Memorable Quotes:
"We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary. That was how you survived when you weren't chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owes you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway."
“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.”
“Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?"
"So?" said Kaz.
"Well, usually it's just half the city.”
“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.”
“No mourners, no funerals. Another way of saying good luck. But it was something more. A dark wink to the fact that there would be no expensive burials for people like them, no marble markers to remember their names, no wreaths of myrtle and rose.”
“We meet fear. We greet the unexpected visitor and listen to what he has to tell us. When fear arrives, something is about to happen.”
If anyone has read Crooked Kingdoms or any other books in the Grishaverse, let us know what you think in the comments below! Comments also open to further book/movie/show recommendations, anything you’d like to see reviewed, or general feedback. We’d love to hear what you have to say!