Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book Review: SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo

Kaz Brekker, criminal prodigy and street gang leader, is hired to perform a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond belief. He assembles a crew of thieves, convicts, and Grisha (people with magical abilities who are often hunted and exploited), and together they set off for the impenetrable Ice Court to retrieve a high security prisoner.

Set in Leigh Bardugo’s fictional Grishaverse (this time in Ketterdam instead of Ravka), SIX OF CROWS is told from the POV of five of the six criminals (plus one chapter in a minor character’s POV). The first chapter reads almost like a prequel, setting up the world and stakes similar to chapter one of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, and I give the same advice to people I’ve recommended Harry Potter to: once you get past chapter one, you’re hooked. The story is fast-paced and full of surprises. Each of the six characters brings his or her own dark baggage to the story, and I quickly became attached to each one.

My favorite character, of course, is Kaz. The mystery surrounding the criminal prodigy is intoxicating: he’s seventeen and has turned the Dregs from a laughingstock to a well-respected—and feared—street gang that controls the port city of Ketterdam. He walks with a cane and wears black gloves, and he’s known on the streets as Dirtyhands. He’s cruel and greedy but a sympathetic character all the same.

Same goes for the other five criminals. Their motives are often selfish—seeking revenge and looking out for number one—but I empathized with each one of them. My other favorite character, Inej, is known as the Wraith because she moves (and kills) silently. I loved reading from her perspective, especially when she’s attempting some pretty daring feats.

You do not need to read the Grisha trilogy (SHADOW AND BONE, SIEGE AND STORM, RUIN AND RISING) to understand SIX OF CROWS. I’ve read the first book in the Grisha trilogy and didn’t fall in love, so I haven’t continued on yet. The war that occurs in the trilogy is mentioned in SIX OF CROWS, but as far as I know nothing from the trilogy is spoiled (SIX OF CROWS takes place after RUIN AND RISING).

If you’re looking for an action-adventure story with great pacing and fantastic character development, SIX OF CROWS is for you. If you’re hesitant about high fantasy, I would still give this book a try; the worldbuilding is expansive but not intimidating. It’s one of my favorite books of the year, and I’m already counting down to the sequel’s release (CROOKED KINGDOM) next fall.

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