Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: ✮✮✮ +½
“We can endure all kinds of pain. It’s shame that eats men whole.”
I found out only after I had started reading Crooked Kingdom that this series was only a duology. This makes me unbelievably sad. Honestly, I would find it hard to stretch the epic world of Six of Crows into three books, but this series was such a rare of a gem that I have a hard time accepting that it’s over already.
You hear me, Leigh Bardugo? Write another spin-off. Now.
I enjoyed Crooked Kingdom as much as Six of Crows—with one exception, but I’m getting to that. The scheme wasn’t as insane as breaking into the Ice Court, but it’s just as daring, and as it all unfolded before me, I loved the rush. I loved watching the chaos unfold just like a true member of the Dregs. These two books held such a delicate complexity that I feel like tampering with one thing would blow everything over.
A lot of things have changed since I read Six of Crows. The biggest thing is how I feel about the characters. I still love them all, but in the first book, I had this pull towards Kaz. How couldn’t I? How could you possibly resist a dark, ruthless anti-hero with the mind of a madman?
I did not love him as much in Crooked Kingdom. I don’t know if this was faltering in his characterization or if I’ve just changed. But do you know who I do love? Jesper.
“It’s a weevil?” Inej asked, examining it.
“A chemical weevil,” said Jesper. “But Wylan still hasn’t named it. My vote is for the Wyvil.”
“That’s terrible,” said Wylan.
“It’s brilliant.” Jesper winked. “Just like you.”
I just realized why it’s called canon. It’s because you ship it. SHIP. Oh my god, what have I been doing with my life.
Not only do I love Jesper, but I found a soft spot in my heart for Nina as well. In the first book I was more found of Inej, but in Crooked Kingdom I realized Nina and I are both kindred spirits.
They passed a cheese shop, and Nina sighed. “How can I walk by a window full of wheels of cheese and feel nothing? I don’t even know myself anymore.”
I am in love with this dark, intricate world, but there is one thing that I can’t get over—the thing that almost killed this book for me.
I am never going to forgive Leigh Bardugo for that ending. Never. I’m sorry, but that ending deducted a whole star, simply because it was anticlimatic, out of the blue, and totally unnecessary.
(Warning: THIS IS THE SPOILER) : Matthias’s death was not only unexpected, it wasn’t developed enough. I get it, a main character dying is horrible and tragic and adds a twist to the story, but without enough to keep it afloat, it feels like an awful attempt at drama. There was not enough time to mourn Matthias, and not only that, the characters—the rest of Kaz’s crew—did not properly mourn as well, not even Nina. And what was the point? Why did Matthias have to die? Is there going to be another spin-off focusing on Fjerda, with Matthias used as some sort of martyr? Why did Matthias have to die? Why was he expendable and no one else?
Crooked Kingdom was not as good as Six of Crows, and it could all be because of that terrible ending. (Though I am glad that all of my ships have sailed.) Still, if Leigh Bardugo keeps up this sort of style—rich, dark, and devilishly compelling—I will read every book she writes.