ARC Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Pages: 480, Hardback
Series: Six of Crows, #1
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Thank you to Henry Holt for the ARC!

Book

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.

LetsTalkI kind of want to marry this book.

Six of Crows is everything I love in a book. The heist-fantasy combination is a wonderful one that I think needs to be used more (see also: Mistborn and The Curse Workers) and oh my god, I just live for books with multiple POVs and different messed-up characters having to work together. I enjoyed the Grisha trilogy, but oh my god, Six of Crows completely exceeded my expectations. It was one of those books where everything came together perfectly, where I was sucked into the book and couldn’t stop reading. (I read the last two hundred pages outside. I started reading when it was warm. By the last fifty pages, the weather had gotten cold, but I refused to close the book, even for a second, even if it meant that I couldn’t feel my arms for two hours after finishing.)

Ways Six of Crows is Different from the Grisha Trilogy:

  • The Grisha trilogy is in first person, and while I enjoyed some of the secondary characters, there were only a few who I considered three-dimensional. Here, with the third person and the alternating points of view and the larger amount of pages, Leigh Bardugo has the time to develop all her characters while still keeping the plot at a fairly good pace.
  • In Six of Crows, the world feels more complete. The characters are all from different areas, and with each of them we get to learn a little more about the culture of that part of the world.
  • The series is darker than the Grisha trilogy–the world is much grittier and bloodier and less polished. But there’s also plenty of humor; the characters are all the epitome of deadpan snarkers, and some of the exchanges between Jesper and Wylan in particular had me laughing out loud.

Jesper knocked his head against the hull and cast his eyees heavenward. “Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”

Brekker’s lips quirked. I’ll just hire Matthias’ ghost to kick your ghost’s ass.”

“My ghost won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.

My point is that I recommend this book whether you’re a fan of the Grisha trilogy or not. That said, if you ARE a fan of the Grisha trilogy (which I am! I just like this book a lot better) there are some really nice bonuses.

The key to any good book is balance; here, Leigh Bardugo balances darkness and light, action and relationships, fleshed-out characters and engaging plot, to create a truly memorable novel.

Didn'tWorkI kind of would have liked characters to spend time with each other outside their established pairs. Obviously I loved Kaz and Inej, and Nina and Matthias, and Jesper and Wylan, and Nina and Inej, but GIVE ME GROUP DYNAMICS OR GIVE ME DEATH.

A certain Thing That Happened at the end of the book bothered me. [SPOILERS] I’m just not here for bad things happening to awesome fe

DidWork

Honestly, everything? The way the characters and plot and backstories and relationships and dialogue were woven together so seamlessly.

All of the main six characters felt real, even Wylan, who didn’t get a POV in this book. I loved the way Leigh Bardugo slowly revealed their backstories, making us wait for the reveal and making it worth it when it arrived. All the main characters have complicated and sometimes tragic backgrounds which are revealed over the course of the book. Some of them have done things that are pretty bad in the past, but in the end I loved them all. THEY’RE MY CHILDREN. My wonderful, terrible, morally grey children who could all kill me if they wanted to. (Kaz is probably my personal favorite. You know that quote, “this character may be a little shit, but he’s MY little shit?” Yeah, that’s how I feel about him. Also, his backstory broke me.)

The plot is amazing as well, full of twists and surprises and tension. It’s never simple–the characters have to make difficult decisions and sacrifices, and sometimes the results are incredibly painful. I’ve heard some people call the pacing slow, and maybe it is, but this book is the best example of Slow-In-A-Good-Way pacing I’ve seen since…okay, since Walk On Earth a Stranger earlier this month, but still. Every single thing that happened in this book felt necessary, whether to the plot or to the characters or both.

Some other cool things:

  • Kaz’s intro scene was so amazing and chilling and a great establishing moment for him being cold and calculating and ten steps ahead of everyone
  • since a Certain Highly Anticipated Book That Shall Remain Nameless really disappointed me, it’s nice to see Leigh Bardugo give me the beautiful ‘witch’/’witch hunter’ romance I wanted and needed
  • ladies being awesome! ladies being friends! ladies being awesome friends!
  • I’ve already said this, but I just loved hearing some more about parts of the world that we didn’t see in the Grisha trilogy.
  • romances that are well-written and believable and make me feel things but never take over the story
  • I’m going to stop now before I devolve into mindless fangirling (I say, like devolving into mindless fangirling is something new for me) but this book is by turns delightful and painful and anxiety inducing and made me scream in public several times and I’ve never been so excited for a book I’ve already read to come out so that I can have other people to be excited with

Pickup

My first reaction after finishing this book was, “so when is the next one coming out???” if that tells you anything. If you liked the Grisha trilogy, read this. If you didn’t like the Grisha trilogy, still read this.

Polina 

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2 thoughts on “ARC Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

  1. A little bit, because there are references to a few characters in the Grisha trilogy and some of them show up in flashbacks. But if you haven’t read the Grisha trilogy, you’ll still be able to enjoy it.

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