Blurb & Info
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price — and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction — if they don’t kill each other first.
Published: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Series: Six of Crows #1 & Grishaverse #4
Content Warnings: minors in peril, mention of past sexual abuse and prostitution, violence
this review contains minor spoilers for Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I first heard about Six of Crows via Read with Cindy on YouTube, and it was actually one of the first YA books that really caught my eye when I started to realize that the bookish world was bigger than just me visiting the library and chatting with the librarians (i.e. right when I started watching booktube videos and before I started this blog). I’m not normally drawn to either YA fantasy or heist stories, but Read with Cindy was so entertaining that I found myself picking up a copy when it showed up on amazon as a kindle daily deal. I read about 1/3 of it, and then I got distracted and put it down “for just a little while” and four months later was reluctantly classifying it as a DNF.
I was saved, however, when it was announced that Six of Crows and its sequel, Crooked Kingdom, would be the January-March picks for the bookish fanfic club After the Story, which I am a member of. Having that as a book club pick gave me the push I needed to return to Six of Crows and finish the story, and I ended up really liking it! (Note: I finished this book toward the end of March, but it took me a while to assemble my thoughts into something coherent).
One of the things I was expecting not to like but found myself enjoying were the romantic relationships that developed over the course of the book. My normal complaint with YA romance is that it develops too quickly and the relationship feels unrealistic to me, but I found myself really rooting for Kaz and Inej as well as Nina and Matthias. The pacing of their romances felt very natural and had a solid foundation, and I’m eager to see how things develop further in Crooked Kingdom.
I also enjoyed the representation in Six of Crows. I’m the lucky child in my family who doesn’t have dyslexia, but a fair number of my relatives do, so it makes me happy to see characters in fiction who are dyslexic. One such character is Wylan, who can’t read but who is still an invaluable and well-loved member of the heist crew. Likewise, Jesper is mentioned as being attracted to men, and he is neither shamed for this attraction nor has his entire characterization reduced to his sexuality. Kaz is disabled; Leigh Bardugo mentions in the author’s note that she struggles with a condition called osteocrenosis, which “basically translates to ‘bone death,’ which sounds kind of gothy and romantic, but actually means that every step I take is painful and that I sometimes need to walk with a cane” the way Kaz does.
I really loved the research that Bardugo poured into this book, to the point that I am seriously considering picking up some of those same books, especially The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum by Sarah Wise.
Returning to the Grishaverse, however… Ketterdam is, of course, based on Amsterdam, and throughout the book readers continually stumble across (delightfully mangled) Dutch words and phrases. Though Ketterdam is the rotten-yet-still-beating heart of Six of Crows, the rest of the world feels fleshed-out and full. I loved all of the little world-building details that I stumbled across; it definitely makes you want to read more books set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse, but I never felt as though I had to read them to understand what was going on.
My only complaint is that the characters are too young. It is absolutely ridiculous to me that Kaz Brekker is seventeen years old; he acts and thinks like someone who is at least in his mid-twenties (but probably even older, if we’re being perfectly honest). Off the top of my head, I feel like the ages of the six main characters were set so young to have them fit more easily into the YA market, and while I do understand the reasoning behind that decision I still find it laughable. True, these characters have silly moments, but every time they “act their age” in this way it felt jarring to me, because I’m used to them behaving like adults who are far older.
Overall, though I enjoyed Six of Crows, and I will definitely be picking up the sequel, since it ends on a cliffhanger 😉
⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5 stars