Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha books were a wonderful surprise. The world building was unbelievably rich and her characters were ones I really got attached to, so I couldn’t pass up the start of her new series, Six of Crows. This book was quite different in terms of characters and conflicts, but it really expanded the world she started in her Grisha series. Fans won’t be disappointed, and if you haven’t read any of her other books, it still isn’t a problem. Six of Crows shares a world with her other works, but this book can stand alone. I gave it a solid four stars for its action, adventure, and surprisingly complex underdog characters.
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.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
The plot in this story is interesting because it is about a dicey heist taken on by a gang of street rats who feel a bit like Charles Dickenson’s young protagonists. Each of them has experienced a life changing disaster that altered their lives in seemingly irrevocable ways, but getting this job done could give them a chance to change that in a heartbeat. I think it is the hope that they each feel, a hope that is contagious, that draws the reader in the most. I wanted these characters to find the happiness that they were denied.
The smart pacing, too, is a draw. The story starts with an action sequence that makes it clear that being outsmarted and betrayed is absolutely a possibility for these players. The author wisely chooses to keep the back stories to a minimum, weaving in the details as flashbacks at just the right moment to build suspense. I didn’t really feel any lulls, and the action in the last third of the book is relentless.
The characters were not as engaging to me as others this author has written, but only because I think there were so many of them that I didn’t have enough time to develop an affection for a particular person before the action or another character pushed to the forefront of the story. I wasn’t particularly bothered by that. There were hints of romance, but nothing really got hot and bothered. Again, I think this was a plot focused read, so I can live, though other readers might be disappointed.
For me, the best part of the book was getting to explore new parts of Bardugo’s world. I really love this author’s world building, and the chance to experience the icy lands occupied by the Fjerdans was exactly what I was reading for. Their customs and philosophies were well developed and considered, and I could picture easily envision this cold nation fueled by brotherhood.
Overall, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the Grisha books, but I got my money’s worth. There is action, intrigue, twists and surprises. I think it will appeal to a wide audience of readers, not just those of us devoted to YA fantasy and magic.