Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

1:04 AM

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo | Rating: ★★★★★

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn't walk, I'd crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we'd fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that's what we do. We never stop fighting.” 

Wow. That's the first coherent thought I have when I consider the conclusion of Crooked Kingdom. As always, Leigh Bardugo kills it and exceeds my expectations for what she has in store. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how to wrap up a story. This is not just a writer penning a story full of magic--this is a writer being literal magic. Six of Crows was brilliant and Crooked Kingdom is just as so.

Truly, I can't stress how beautifully written this story is. It has everything you could want from a YA fantasy novel. A lot of action. A lot of danger. A hint of romance. Some teenage angst thrown in for good measure. And whole lot of soul. I didn't think that Bardugo could pack quite the same punch with Crooked Kingdom but she did.

Further, Bardugo's writing just keeps getting better. From her first story in Shadow and Bone all the way to Crooked Kingdom, she has proven that she is one of the brightest stars in YA literature. She is coming for that thrown. If you've liked her previous works, you know exactly what I am saying: she just keeps getting better. Which is shocking in and of itself, considering she has always been brilliant.

Crooked Kingdom picks up quickly after the events of Six of Crows. A lot of things happen in a short amount of time and it leaves readers feeling winded, warm and maybe even a bit (see: a lot) heart-broken. Or maybe shattered is more of the word.

While things are heating up for our favourite criminals, the pieces of the game keep moving into new territory and it leaves the reader wondering, with every revelation and twist of tongue, who to trust and what happens next. We get a lot of answers, too, in Crooked Kingdom--Wylan's family, and the truth about his mother, Jesper's father and the lies Jesper tells him, we get a bigger glimpse at Kaz and his childhood that is flat out raw, Inej gets a hefty plot-line and finds herself questioning more than a few things, Nina is reunited with some old friends and as usually owning everyone in the world, Matthias is struggling with his own baggage.

Basically, get ready to feel all the emotions when it comes to the #SQUAD.

Let's dive right into my favourites in the novel as a whole:

  • We don't have to wait around for a lot. We do have questions, sometimes our suspicions are right sometimes they are wrong, and sometimes we get thrown on our arses. However, Bardugo has a pace she keeps with that is thrilling and satisfying. Not many authors can do that. Which leads to...
  • THE WRITING. It's luscious. It's mysterious. It's painful. It's loving. From world-building to the romance to the most mundane things to the dialogue and action, Bardugo is on fire and really blew me away. As far as fantasy in YA goes, I have no doubt that this is one of the very best releases in the genre. I've already said it is absolutely the best in her archives but I'm going to say it again. This is Bardugo's best release to date. 
  • Kaz and his backstory. The more we learn about his early years--the betrayal he and his older brother Jordie suffered by a con artist, the horrors and struggles that followed in their life in poverty until he finally lost a piece of himself and began to fashion into the boy we know. I was definitely crying. A lot. My poor son.
  • Inej and the way her own backstory was portrayed. All of these characters have such an important story to tell when it comes to their past and Inej is no different. However, the events that have shaped her since she was a younger girl, hers is the most prominent and chilling. We already knew a lot about her being taken and sold into slavery. The more we learn, the more we feel deeply for her and long for her to get something of a happy ending. Both with Kaz and her family. 
  • Nikolai (as his, ah, alter ego), Zoya and Genya all make appearances. They fit right back into the prose as if this story was their own. Bardugo makes sure their cameos/minor roles in the novel aren't just background noise. I like the way it ties into the original series as a sort of call back. We have a lot of mentions of Alina again, too, which is just great for nostalgia purposes. 
  • Nina. Oh, Nina. She just keeps getting the shorter end of the stick but my girl is brave and is so loving and warm and shameless and great and ugh, I love my daughter. 
  • Wylan and Jesper's relationship. I love, love, love Inej and Kaz but Wylan and Jesper are my big OTP in this duo. They are so perfectly balanced with each other.
  • Wylan's backstory. The revelations we see from his past and some brand new information on his mother. I wanted more of him and Bardugo really didn't hold back on developing him further. He has grown so much throughout the course of both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. I was really satisfied with how his story wrapped up. 
  • The ending and redemption for Matthias. 
Overall, this is one of the most beautifully written YA fantasy novels of our day and worth every little wink of hype it gets. Leigh Bardugo crafts the perfect mix of a story and proves once again that she is here to stay. Crooked Kingdom is one of my favourite books in the last few years and I cannot stress how stunning it truly is without babbling incoherently. A total must-read for fantasy lovers.

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