Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows is one of those books that people kept telling me to read, and I knew I would love, but it sat on my shelf for the longest time. In May, Steph gave me the kick I needed to read it, and I was not disappointed.

review

It starts with a boy being tortured to test the strength and skill of the Grisha under the influence of Jurda Parem, a scene we won’t understand the significance of until much later, but which hooked me from the start. I loved the idea of the Grisha, their unique powers and the political element that this added to the novel. Society is very much anti-Grisha, they’re a criminal underclass with magical powers (hello, yes, I am all here for this world). The Grisha are punished horrifically for their mere existence, which adds an element of excitement and danger to everything they do. Jurda Parem, a drug that is being invented, can heighten Grisha powers. It is highly addictive and if it were to become widely available, it could lead to war on an epic scale.

Six of Crows is mainly concerned with Kaz Brekker and the Dregs: his gang. Van Eck employs them to break someone out of the most notoriously secure prison in existence, and he’s prepared to pay an astounding sum. Why the Dregs? Because Van Eck has faith in Kaz’s skill:

“you haven’t been arrested since you were fourteen, and since I know you aren’t an honest man any more than you were an honest boy, I can only assume you have the quality I most need in a criminal: you don’t get caught.”

Kaz Brekker is everything. He’s the kind of guy you shouldn’t love: criminal, cons people for a living, sarcastic and cold-hearted. I adored him. He had so much snark and darkness that I couldn’t fail to love him; he is very much my kind of character. Kaz’s reputation precedes him and he uses this to his advantage:

 “when everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”

I loved that we got to see a more vulnerable side to Kaz in the expression of his PTSD following his early experiences with his brother. As someone who has PTSD, it’s great to see this represented in a book, and especially by a strong character who is getting on with his life and living brilliantly, but still suffers from this one traumatic experience. It’s never overtly said that he suffers from this mental illness, but it’s clear to me in the way that he talks about his past and the effect on his present life:

 “Since that night among the bodies and the swim from the Reaper’s Barge, he had not been able to bear the feeling of skin against skin. It was excruciating to him, revolting.”

Inej is desperate to get under his armour and work out what is going on in Kaz’s mind. I loved these two so much. Inej, the Wraith, is a badass. She has been walking a high wire since she was a small child, so the stunts that she pulls off as she goes about her business are incredible. She is feisty and smart, but also caring, and I had the biggest book crush on her. She is working with the Dregs to pay off Per Haskell (Kaz’s boss), who bought her out of her indenture, but has very different ideas about what her future will involve.

These two have such tension between them that I spent huge chunks of my reading time yelling “will you just get on with it already” and I think “I will have you without armour, Kaz Brekker, or I will not have you at all” might be one of my favourite lines in a book ever.

Obviously, there are more characters than just these two. Nina, a Grisha with some excellent powers, was another of my favourites. She is so cynical and has a deadpan sense of humour:

“she wouldn’t wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn’t get rid of”

I adored her. She also has a huge appetite and is unashamedly herself all of the time. She is wonderful. When Matthias comes into their lives, there is instant tension between the two. We know that there is some history there, not all of it good, but it takes a while for this to unravel, and this was one of my favourite story lines.

I also loved the budding relationship, or really just hints of attraction, between Wylan Van Eck and Jasper. These two are just brilliant. They work really well together on all levels and really add something brilliant to the story with their humour and adventures.

Six of Crows is a fantastic book set in a unique world and I cannot get enough of it. I picked up Crooked Kingdom as soon as I put Six of Crows down because that ending is something else and I could not handle waiting to find out what happened next.

 

 

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