Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows, book review, bookstagram, fantasy, Amsterdam, heist, thieves, magic, Grisha, romance

I’ve been seeing Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo floating around on the Bookstagram world for a little while with some very favourable reviews. I downloaded a sample of the book on my Kindle, read it and was intrigued, but never got any further.

Then the other day, I decided to finally get around to purchasing the book and reading it. And reading it. And reading it. And I never put it down until I was done.

Holy hells.

Why did I not start reading this sooner?

Six of Crows has been touted as a high fantasy version of Ocean’s Eleven, the story of a bunch of misfit thieves, each with their own ‘specialty’, plotting to pull off a near-impossible heist. That’s a pretty good description of Six of Crows. I love the easy camaraderie between this gang of misfits – and I love all the characters, from criminal mastermind Kaz Brekker (nicknamed Dirtyhands because there’s no job too dirty for him) to Inej, a Suli acrobat who can walk so silently she is known as The Wraith and Mathias, a prudish Convict and former soldier who’s out for revenge on the woman he loves. Then there’s Jesper, a sharpshooter with a gambling addiction, Wylan, a rich merchant’s son who’s good at making bombs, and Nina, a woman with the ability to stop hearts beating. She’s also the object of Mathias’s love/hate and I simply adore the tension that occurs between them – and also between another couple in the book whom I won’t name for those who haven’t read it yet.

Six of Crows is a spin-off from Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, but that was something I didn’t know until I had finished reading the book and started desperately searching for more Bardugo books to read. (My wail of horror at finding out Crooked Kingdom, the sequel to Six of Crows isn’t out yet, was only stopped short by my relief at finding out that she has also written a trilogy set in the very same world as SoC. Oh, thank all the book saints, there’s more!!!). I assume I will find out a lot more about the Grisha, a people with magical abilities like Nina, and the ongoing war between the countries of Ravka and Fjerdan (high fantasy versions of Russia and Germany, respectively), topics Bardugo touches on in Six of Crows. But she also manages to tell Six of Crows so well that the book works as a standalone series and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything because I hadn’t read the Grisha trilogy yet.

One of the reasons it took me so long to get around to reading Six of Crows was because the premise didn’t really reach out to me. A heist, a bunch of ragtag thieves – a criminal mastermind, a convict out for revenge, a gambler, etc. – they sounded like typical stock characters that have been reused in so many other stories. But instead Bardugo has turned these stereotypes around on their heads and made the characters fresh again, with their own individual personalities. And that, folks, is what makes a really good writer. Like they say, there are only about seven original stories in the world, and what sets a great writer apart is their ability to take this narrative and make it seem fresh and original, to add their own twist to the tale that makes readers into rampaging book slave zombies, hungering for more. (Yup, this is me with Six of Crows).

What else did I like about Six of Crows? I mentioned earlier the easy camaraderie between the characters – and I’m going to mention it again. Six of Crows is compared to Ocean’s Eleven – but I’m going to compare it more to Ocean’s Twelve, where you could tell the actors were having a lot of fun running around, playing pranks on each other on set, making jokes, poking fun at each other, having (spoiler alert for those who haven’t watched Ocean’s Twelve before!) Julia Roberts pretend to be a character pretending to be Julia Roberts. (spoiler alert over – it is safe to read from here – and you should really watch Ocean’s Twelve!). Six of Crows is the same way, and I love the back-and-forth teasing, the sly digs they poke at each other, which lent to a lot of laugh-out-loud moments and lines worth remembering.

My only gripe? The dreaded cliffhanger. I found myself anxiously flipping through the pages toward at the end, holding my breath, hoping Bardugo doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, hoping she’d manage to somehow magically resolve everything in the last few pages. Alas, it was not meant to be. However, I’m almost okay about this because I have a feeling Bardugo has plenty in store for us and I can’t wait to find out how she’s going to resolve all those dilemmas she’s left Kaz and his crew hanging in. Kaz Brekker might be a mastermind with magician-like abilities to pull a rabbit out of a hat when you least expect it, and Leigh Bardugo is the same, a wizard of a writer who has just added another adoring fan to her ranks.

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  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo The Salonniere's Apartments

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