Book Review : Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Amazon Link)

Author : Leigh Bardugo
Published By : Henry Holt and Company
Year Published : September 2015
Genre / Tags : YA, Fantasy, Adventure
Formats : Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
# of Pages : 465 pages (Hardcover)

Summary

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.

Review

First, a disclosure. This review was originally written February of 2019. I’ve edited and pasted it below, and will end this with some more current notes on my feelings toward this title.

There are many things I think should have been done differently in this book. For example, would have favored more conversation over wordy description. The characters should have been older as well, I felt. But these feel like small issues for what is otherwise a great book. This is one of those books where I put it down and feel like I just got back from somewhere. It has the power to overshadow other decent but lesser books. I dropped everything else I had been in the middle of reading at the time to commit full attention to Six of Crows at a certain point, knowing that I was wrapped up in it. I look at this book and feel there is so much that happened and so much to talk about. It’s a real journey and a huge step forward for YA.

The first couple of chapters were hard to get through. Even after reading the first three books in the universe of this series (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising from the Gristha trilogy) the onslaught of terms and references can still be overwhelming and not an inviting situation.

This is a book that could have greatly benefited from some type of long form dictionary or glossary. (Note : I was reading the ebook version so perhaps such exists in the physical version? If it doesn’t, it should.) However, my lack of experience with fantasy in general at the time could have also been a road block to fully enjoying all the efforts to drum up all the unique terminology and concepts for the world here.

I don’t think reading the preceding series (starting with Shadow and Bone) is necessary. But one should still consider it for quicker acclimation to the world and experiencing less confusion. But do please note, if you dislike or hate Shadow and Bone, you might still love Six of Crows. I’ve noticed a lot of people feel that way. I’m glad to have read Shadow and Bone first though, as a big part of why I loved Six of Crows is for how much it shows incredible improvement in Bardugo’s writing and characterization compared to those earlier books. It’s great to see an author demonstrate such growth.

While the focus is very clearly on action, adventure, and fantasy; there is some bit of romance and romantic subtext and honestly, I found those moments super endearing and favor them much more than I do in actual romance novels. It’s just so slow-burning and the little moments between the characters are hard-earned, assisted by the harshness of their situation. All the tension seems to be leading to some great big pay off for these characters that I doubt that will take place (this being YA and all) and that can be frustrating. I’m trying not to think about that since romance is a small part of the book and not the main focus at all.

The greatest accomplishment of this book by far and my reason for giving it five stars: the characters. The fact that there are six main characters and I really adore ALL of them- that was a huge surprise. Especially since this is still a YA novel, a genre rife with unlikable characters. The cast here are not too perfect, flawed yet extraordinary. Just well developed and it’s easy to feel the author’s passion in writing them. Most of them have lengthy and memorable back stories. The chapters feel very different, each character has such a distinctive voice. I’m hoping that the success of Six of Crows will be a sort of turning point for YA novels that have similarly ambitious characterization and worthy characters. I could have easily devoured another couple hundred pages of just watching this cast hang out, they are that worthwhile.

So, another journey into Kitty’s bizarre brain- there is some part of this review that I remember writing. Like a whole paragraph. And it’s not here, lol. I don’t know if I imagined writing the paragraph or it never existed? Anyway, I will try to recreate that thought here.

There is scene somewhere in the middle of the book with Inej where she is in an impossible and horrible situation and alone. (hint to people who’ve read it, it involves intense heat) The use of description, intense emotion and force in that scene is palpable. Moreover, the way it ended and the resolution of it is one of the best images and “ah ha” moments I have ever encountered in fiction. If they direct it well and capably in the Netflix adaptation I can just imagine how stirring, intense, and surprising it’s going to be. Honestly my favorite moment in any fantasy novel.

But anyway, off of that tangent. This book is great, still great. I don’t think it would sway people who aren’t very open to a fantasy novel though. I am terrible with names and terminology and this book really flings every word in its absent glossary at the reader. After reading more fantasy novels I’ve found that this is pretty normal and perhaps part and parcel of the genre. But a part of me wishes there was some extremely well done graphic novel adaptation or something for people who aren’t ready to hunker down with this because the cast is truly fabulous and there are some very universally iconic scenes and ideas here.

Overall Rating – 10/10

Why You Should Try It – I went into this knowing the massive hype and was shocked to see how much it lived up to those expectations. Great cast with many effective perspectives. Packed with fantastic and memorable moments. Great back stories to the characters. Stunning growth in quality of writing and characterization from the Grisha trilogy to this book, it’s very noticeable. The romance, though not at all a focal point, honestly outclasses most romance I have read for the impactful chemistry between the characters. Not wanting to fangirl here but Matthias and Nina are my favorite enemies-to-lovers pair.

Why You Might Not Like It – The beginning is not as inviting or direct and explanatory as it could be. Reads as if written for people who already read the Grisha trilogy.


Have you read Six of Crows or have it on your TBR? Have you read other works by Leigh Bardugo? Would love to hear your thoughts as always, and thanks so much for reading. – Kitty

11 thoughts on “Book Review : Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Add yours

  1. I’m not sure anyone needs me to say how I feel here.

    I’m glad you loved it and I know the seen you speak of … I always say that for all my love of Kaz– I have not but respect and stand for Inej.

    You will read Crooked Kingdom?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely going to read Crooked Kingdom. There was a thing that I heard happens late in the book that was spoiled (on Twitter or somewhere) for me months ago, a thing that happens to a character I love tons ;-; BUT totally going to read it and am 150%+ sure I will still love the book anyway. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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