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Monday, March 7, 2016

SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo | review

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
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Fantasy, 465 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Henry Holt and Company
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 are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

When I started Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series spin-off towards the end of last year, I was quasi-hesitant, for two reasons: 1) I’d found the first book of the Grisha series to be a bit slow (though I ended up loving it), and I wasn’t sure if I’d find this equally slow (I was already in a reading slump, I didn’t need anything slow) and 2) I had never finished the series and wasn’t sure how heavily Six of Crows relied on it for the reader’s understanding and/or enjoyment. On the latter count, I probably would have picked up more had I read the rest of the series, and a reader may need to have read at least the first Grisha book to have a working understanding of the magic and world, but Six of Crows mostly stands on its own, and is completely enjoyable independent of what came before. And on the former, it did take me awhile to get through it, but it was never because I wasn't interested; I think Leigh's books can be slow burners, but in a delicious way, and I found myself wanting to savor it. (Also, it was just partly my end of year mood. I wasn't reading this very frequently, but I wasn't reading anything else at all. But when I did, I was fast in love.)

Frankly, this was just very well written. Damn well written. It was taut and suspenseful, as a heist book should be, but it also had a great feel of cultural weight, which is something I judge every fantasy on. The language, the customs, the names, the behaviors -- they were all thought about, and all added a great layer without being obtrusive. This is something I noticed in Shadow and Bone, too, but I think it’s an even stronger presence now; it’s a very definite skill of Bardugo’s, and one likely to make me want to devour all of her books from here until Kingsom come. It also had heart and humor and a thousand other things that make for a good reading experience, and for a longer book, it never felt long to me; I never found myself thinking that it'd be better if _____________ was trimmed down, which is a thing I almost always do. Long books tend to bring out my (ruthless) inner editor, but this didn't.

But the biggest shock of all may be that it's a multiple POV book that didn't bother me in the slightest. I often find multi-POV narratives gimmicky at best, or muddled/jumbled and indistinguishable at worst, but each voice was distinct, memorable and added to the overall story in a way that I don't think any other method, even 3rd person omniscient, would have. And Bardugo juggled the six (6!) narrative threads masterfully.  On top of that, I loved the romantic-ish and friendly-like pairings. ALL of them. I never say that, but I honestly wouldn't be able to pick a favorite -- I have soft spots for all of them, in different ways.

In the end, I think it managed to slide into my 2015 Favorites right at the last minute, and though I was really hoping this was a stand-alone – not because I didn't want more (I did! I do!), but because I was dreading leaving off on anything even resembling a cliffhanger; I really, really didn't want any loose threads, and I wanted, against all odds, for everyone to find some semblance of a Happy Ever After – I am more than ready for book 2 and am actually Very Happy Indeed that there is another book, because that means I’ll get to rejoin these characters and reenter this strong world once again, and hijinks and stomach butterflies are sure to ensue; I’ll be (im)patiently awaiting its release.
(And until then, I should probably get my hands on Siege and Storm so I can finally finish that series... Oops.)

Want to know more about the book, or get a feel for it yourself? Preview it below!


  1. I wasn't aware this is a spin-off so I'm glad you said that. Slow-burn I can handle as long as it does eventually pick up speed. I like the idea that each of the players are engaging. I still need to read the series before I can get to this one, but appreciated your review thoughts, Misty!

    1. Honestly, slow-burn might not even be the best descriptor for this; I mean, I moved through it slowly at times, but it is actually fairly action-packed and there's always something going on. But it's more of a slow-burner than a traditional action/adventure, because it's complex, and it invites you to savor it. But trust me, there's no worry of it not picking up: it's a heist book, after all! =D


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