Let’s start with Six of Crows.
Y’all, Bardugo didn’t come to play.
In fact, it’s hard to believe that the author who wrote the Grisha trilogy is the same one to develop this masterpiece of a duology. I’m aware that at this point in the game rave reviews for Six of Crows are just preaching to the choir, but if for some reason you’re one of the few Grisha virgins (like I was), then I’m here to tell you this is well worth the hype and then some. It’s a bold claim, but one I find to be true.
It’s no secret I pretty much loathed the entirety of the Grisha trilogy (shameless plug to check those reviews out, bc sis went off), so I was understandably weary to begin an even more beloved series by the same author. However, I quickly found that every problem I had with Shadow and Bone and its sequels, was eradicated in Six of Crows.
First off, there are the characters . One of my biggest complaints with Shadow and Bone was that I felt complete apathy toward all of our protagonists, except Nikolai of course, and therefore didn’t care if they lived or died. Here, I loved every single one of them even if some part of me knew they were horrible people. At each twist and turn I worried my babies would get hurt, and those babies happen to be murderers and thieves, so have fun describing that to my therapist. There are six points of view and it’s difficult to develop and enrich each voice, but somehow Bardugo manages to make them distinct. I think part of that is that she strays from using first-person narrative, and instead opts to use third-person narrative.
Second, there’s the representation . To me, Shadow and Bone came off as another white savior fantasy where everyone’s white and powerful. In Six of Crows, Bardugo makes diversity a priority whether it be in race,body type, disability, mental health, or LGBTQIA+ representation. I’m not going to go into how effective or successful she was in each, because I encourage you to look into own voices reviews. Instead, I’ll take this brief moment to get vulnerable about something I don’t talk about much in my personal life, but hey what’s anonymity and the internet for? It’s never quite explained what Kaz has, so I’m just assuming it’s OCD, but I identified with a lot of his struggles. I’m someone that finds it exceptionally hard to have someone in my personal space, and even more so to be touched. Besides my mother, who birthed me and therefor my mind makes the only exception for, I don’t let myself get close enough to be touched by anyone. There’s no particular sob story to share, like Kaz has, as to why my mind behaves this way, but it’s something I’ve had to learn to live with in my daily life. And unlike Turtles All the Way Down, I found the representation of this comforting rather than triggering.
Okay, now that the emotionally vulnerable section of this review is over *shivers*, let’s get to the plot! . Oh man oh man is this leaps and bounds from Shadow and Bone. You’ve heard it before, but I’ll reiterate this is an action-packed heist at the very core . There is no room for 400 pages of filler nonsense, *coughs* Siege and Storm*coughs*, instead every single scene here is building up to some impossible climax. Even the fluff scenes meant for character developments are necessary to aid the plot. I was at the edge of my seat as I turned each page, and that’s something that rarely happens to me.
Lastly, I’ll talk about the author (this you can skip if you haven’t already). The reason I began this Grisha reading journey is because I’d always heard such fantastic things about Bardugo. I’ve followed her on instagram way before I ever read anything from her, and when she announced she’d be doing a signing I challenged myself to buy a ticket and read her work in a matter of a week. Spoiler alert, I didn’t succeed as I have yet to finish Crooked Kingdom, but hey I got close! Anyways, I was a bit apprehensive of meeting her, because sometimes if I know too much about an author I start seeing them in their books instead of enjoying the actual novel.
Well, she was completely and utterly wonderful. There were about 300 or so people there and you could tell she cared what they thought of her. I mean this as the highest compliment. There’s something incredibly humble and kind about someone with her level of success caring whether each individual is getting the best experience possible. She answered each question with enthusiasm, made sure those in the back weren’t getting neglected, and looked every single one of us in the eye as we got our books signed. Listen, we were her last tour stop and I was at the very back of the line, so the fact that she treated me as if I were only the beginning says something.
As for the whole reading thing, after meeting her I read a portion of Crooked Kingdom, and it’s safe to say I am able to separate her voice from the characters’ voices
Then came Crooked Kingdom:
How dare you recommend this series to me? I will die in a sea of my own tears, and then haunt everyone’s dreams until their dying days. Just you wait.
Okay, but on a serious note what a wild ride. I’m having trouble formulating a review for something that concludes such a chunk of my reading journey in 2019. I’m aware that there is still King of Scars,in terms of the Grishaverse, but something about this book–that ending–feels finite to me.
I was spoiled for a certain heart-wrenching scene near the end, but reading it still made my eyes well with tears. I love this crew, I love this world, and it’s bittersweet to think that’s the end. I know I can go back and visit them if I ever reread the series, but it’ll be immensely different knowing how things will conclude in those final moments.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of heart in this series. There is light, there is joy, even some turmoil and pain, but I don’t think I would’ve wanted it any other way. I thought it was an excellent finale and definitely different from Six of Crows. Where Six of Crows takes place in a limited expanse of time and follows a direct plotline, Crooked Kingdom covers a larger timeline while supplying a variety of plots both big and small. I will say this caused the book to drag at times, but it was still a fantastic read overall.
I originally planned on marathoning this series in order to get to King of Scars, but I’ve now decided to hold off on any Grishaverse related books. I think I need time to marinate in my journey with these characters before I am able to truly say goodbye and join Nina in another story.