Review – Six of Crows Duology

I have an intense book hangover and I’m struggling to get over it.

Thanks to these two books, Queen Leigh Bardugo could write her shopping list on a diner napkin, and I’d camp outside a bookstore to buy it first. Six of Crows was epic, but then Crooked Kingdom blew my bookish mind.

The only problem with Crooked Kingdom is that every book you pick up to read afterwards isn’t Crooked Kingdom. You can’t help it but you compare, and after that intense high, everything else seems to fall flat.

But okay. It might be best to start with the burning question on everyone’s lips.

Is it necessary to have read Shadow and Bone before Six of Crows?

If you do read the first three Grishaverse books, you’ll have a better understanding of how the world stands after Ruin & Rising. You’ll also have a working knowledge of the magic system and the wider world, and it’s always cool to understand references to the characters from the first three books.

With that all said, I really don’t think it would diminish your reading experience if you read Six of Crows without Shadow & Bone. These two books can doubtlessly stand on their own.

*This review is intentionally vague to avoid spoilers.*

Six Of Crows

The Blurb

From Goodreads:

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.


Six of Crows is set in the same world as Shadow & Bone, but we get to see two different parts of it.

Ketterdam is a wonderfully gritty place. The descriptions are fabulous, leaving you feeling like you’ve walked the city streets. Having been to Amsterdam, I really appreciated the similarities with Ketterdam. But there’s a lot that sets it apart, too. Leigh Bardugo has crafted a uniquely real playground for our thieves, and I can already tell this will be a world I revisit frequently.

We also get to visit harsh Fjerda, with loads of ice, snow, and frigid people. But exploring the culture helps us understand them, if even a bit, which ultimately makes the setting that much more believable.

Also, the maps are gorgeous. I can stare at them for much longer than a person should stare at a map. The styling of these books in general is amazing.


It’s no secret that I love thieves, spies, lies, and the found family trope. This book, my friends, delivers on all of those counts so thoroughly that you finish reading and wonder what could top it.

Kaz, Inej, and the rest of the crew are all wonderfully rounded characters, flawed and gritty and broken, but somehow still getting shit done. Their stories are interesting and just a little more is revealed throughout the book, so every time you think you have them figured out, another layer is added to their stories.

The thing about Kaz is he scratched that Raymond Reddington-shaped itch I can’t get rid of. He’s not a good guy–he didn’t get to where he is by being nice. Kaz Brekker will just as easily kneecap someone with his cane as steal something from a pigeon. And that’s what I love about him.

Yes, he does have some Robin Hood qualities. He builds up his part of the city and helps the odd prostitute out of their line of work, but Kaz is calculating and everything he does is for his own gain.

His conscience lives outside of his own body, in the form of his spy and closest confidant, Inej. I adore this character. She’s poetic and always ready with a proverb to help her friends. She didn’t choose the course her life took, but somehow made the best of it.

She’s deadly, friends, and will kill if she must, but she doesn’t like it. She’s always trying to steer her companions into a more morally acceptable direction.

The dynamic between Jesper and the rest of the cast is stellar. This dude is the funniest, most suave character I’ve read in a long while. The energy he brings to every scene is fantastic. Honestly, the only thing better than Jesper on the page is Jesper and Wylan sharing a page. I can’t get enough of these two!

Then Nina. First of all, having a chunky girl represented in any book is a treat in its own right, but a girl with Nina’s wit and hilarious one-liners is a gem that must forever be treasured!

Finally, Matthias. Of the cast, he’s probably the one you want to dislike most. But of course, Queen Leigh knows magic and wrote us a wonderful little gumdrop in this dude. By far the most heart-warming character growth I’ve read in a long time. Well, except maybe for Kaz.


The heist is written beautifully. But I promised to keep this post spoiler free, so I’ll try to be as brief as possible here.

You know that feeling in any heist movie when all the threads placed throughout are finally tied into a neat little bow? Six of Crows maintains that feeling throughout the entire second act.

This book delivers edge-of-seat action from very early on, and doesn’t let you down in the end. In fact, as I said somewhere above, you reach the end of this one thinking nothing can top it.

Then there’s the sequel.

Crooked Kingdom

The Blurb

From Goodreads:

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.

Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.

A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Old Faces

I was out of my skin when the crew met up with some of my favourites from Shadow & Bone. Seeing them all work together was almost more than my little heart could handle.

I also reckon this is a good set-up for what’s to come, and I’m really excited about that.


Everything goes south in Crooked Kingdom. By the halfway line, the crew is surrounded and backed into a corner so thoroughly, you can’t imagine how they’d ever get out.

It’s enemies everywhere, and paragraph by paragraph, the stakes are raised.

This is one of those books that had me smiling like an idiot for the entire final act of the story, because it was just that good. I also got a little misty-eyed at the end.

I don’t think I can say too much more about this, or I might give away the entire plot. I could babble about these books for days. I sincerely hope we get to read about Kaz and the Dregs again soon, or I might explode.

Drama aside, I really loved this duology that much. A solid 5/5-star read for me.



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