Sunday, December 22, 2019

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: ★★.5  | 9 hours 54 minutes| Fantasy YA | Henry Holt & Co| Release Date: 09/27/2016

If Six of Crows was like a Victorian heist movie then Crooked Kingdom reads like the follow-up television series. Apart from coming off as more episodic, the characters get kind of flanderized, the plot is a little bloated leaving this big finale with some hits and misses.

After narrowly escaping the ice court this band of thieves has to pull one last heist---well it's actually a handful more cons and then a heist to set things right. Crooked Kingdom keeps its signature sardonic wit and rhythmic humor that makes the characters enduring while also taking a level in badass when necessary.

I've come down on being pretty "meh" on this book. I feel like the things that made Six of Crows unique weighed down this 500 plus page book, namely the flashbacks. The flashbacks in Six of Crows were a wonderful way of introducing readers to the characters by showing not telling (except for Wylan and Jesper who get their stories told in this book for some reason ? I felt like this should have been in the first book so we understood their motivations) but here it just felt like padding.

Again, I sort of feel like the magical system in this book is still not there for me. I've read five Grisha books and if you told me the abilities a Grisha had I would not be able to tell you which Grisha order they were in. Someone, please tell me what is the difference between a Healer and Heartrender?

I'm going to get really 2019 here and say I didn't love some of the race stuff in this book. For one the fact that Wylan spends more than half the book as Kuwei felt like magical brownface to me. It was hardly central to the plot and I think if you're going to have a privileged white character become a highly othered minority then maybe focus more on the impact of that. There were a few throwaway lines but overall it wasn't even that central to the plot *Spoiler* especially considering he gets put back in the end. Also, I got real tired of Kaz reminding Jesper and Wylan (as Kuwie) that they would stick out in certain places. I mean JESPER knows. He doesn't need you to tell him.

I feel like we were introduced to several villains and antagonists, so much so that not one of them really shined.  Inej was giving a pretty compelling adversary who I wished would have shown up earlier in the books. I'm pretty sure some of this was to set up for King of Scars.

Overall, I thought the book was okay, a must-read for fans of the characters but  I found myself missing the solid focus and plotting of Six of Crows.

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