Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Published by Indigo on September 29th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 491
Goodreads

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.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

5 Stars

“I’m a businessman,” he’d told her. “No more, no less.”
“You’re a thief, Kaz.”
“Isn’t that what I just said?”

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Kaz Brekker, the most notorious thief and scoundrel of Ketterdam. You will not believe the craziness that is Kaz Brekker or the awesomeness of his crew. Six of Crows is Bardugo’s newest masterpiece, a tale of adventure, trust, and magic. This book focuses on a fast-paced and action-packed heist, as a group of thieves and unlikely allies takes on their greatest coup yet.


I know a lot of people have been saying this but let me just repeat it anyway: Six of Crows outperforms the Grisha trilogy by far. The plot follows a linear line and runs more smoothly. The characters are diverse and have been crafted with more depth. The atmosphere, though less gloomy, is more adventurous with the promise of a good heist. The only thing that stayed more or less the same is the humour that had me crack up on every other page, though there might certainly be more sarcasm in Six of Crows. Leigh Bardugo has definitely upped her game!

Six of Crows takes you back to the Grisha universe. This time around, the setting is Kerch and Fjerda, both of which are obviously inspired by European countries (*cough* Netherlands and Norway *cough*). The plot takes place some time after the events of the Grisha trilogy, but Bardugo grants us small glimpses and references of old friends. If you haven’t read the Grisha trilogy but are tempted to pick up Six of Crows, I certainly think that’s doable as the reader is quickly acquainted with this fictional fantasy realm.

MEET THE CREW

Kaz. I feel like I shouldn’t be saying this out loud but KAZ IS WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU MELT THE DARKLING AND STURMHOND TOGETHER. There, I said it. He’s ruthless, snarky, and mysterious. He’s the leader of The Dregs, a crew consisting of thieves, sharpshooters, runaways and other interesting misfits. His currency is dealing with information, more valuable to some than money, and he likes to maintain an air of fear regarding his person. He’s a lunatic, knows he has the upper hand (well, most of the time), and has made himself powerful enemies. Kaz nearly almost never makes mistakes, yet there’s one in this book that will cost him dearly and has made me want to rip my hair out. I realized how much I cared for this character – and the crew in general – when shit hit the fan, and I was sucked into a hole of despair. Further, I loved the revelations about his dark past, which made me like him so much more. Oh, and he may have a limp but watch out for his cane, as it might smack you out of nowhere. He’s such an arrogant little maniac, and I love him.

“Greed is your God, Kaz.”
“No, Inej. Greed bows to me. It is my servant and my lever.”

Inej. Now Inej, more ghost than girl, I adored. She’s Kaz’s most trusted crewmember, the spy of the group, when she climbs house facades to gather information for blackmailing. So yes, she’s a badass. Her character development throughout the book is amazing. At first, Inej is the forgettable girl who lurks in the shadows and works invisibly, but there’s much more to her than that. She’s very smart, she’s brave and loyal, and the cruel treatment she’d received before joining The Dregs has made her cautious and distrustful. Inej is a valuable asset to the group though, and she has given names to her knives (one is named after Sankta Alina, oh the joy!). And have I mentioned her carrying brass knuckles? If you like female characters who can take care of themselves, you will love Inej.

“Besides, she was the Wraith – the only law that applied to her was gravity, and some days she defied that, too.”

Jesper. Now this piece of trouble is a long-legged and foul-mouthed Zemeni boy with a fascination for revolvers and gambling. He cannot keep still, always on the lookout for action. He has a lot of say in the group, basically Kaz’ second in command, but his big mouth will also get him in trouble. Jesper is a sassy flirt, a source of constant joking and teasing. Bardugo also took the opportunity to add a bi-/homosexual character to the cast, and I’m excited to see where she’ll take the thread of his personal subplot in the series.

“Take good care of my babies,” Jesper said as he handed them over to Dirix. “If I see a single scratch or nick on those, I’ll spell forgive me on your chest in bullet holes.”

Nina. The second female crewmember couldn’t be more different from Inej than Nina. She’s stuck in Ketterdam involuntarily, but she strives for redemption and atoning for her sins. Her value to the Dregs is due to her Grisha powers, and as a Heartrender, Nina can control bodies and heal wounds. She will not shy away from threatening Kaz with her powers when he steps over the line again, which I love about her. Nina has a lot of spark. She has other talents, too: She speaks several languages and loves the challenge of taking on a new identity. In comparison with Inej, Nina is a lot more girly, and you can tempt her with shiny things, nice clothes, and lucious food. She also has a taste for Matthias, the witchhunter, which naturally causes a constant tension in the group. May I also compliment Bardugo on her amazing choice in name? In my opinion, she couldn’t have chosen any better name than Nina, but I may be biased.

“It’s not natural for women to fight.”
“It’s not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.”

Matthias. This huge, muscular Fjerdan convict and ex-witchhunter is a source of constant brooding, scowling, and lethal threats. He’s the partypooper of the group, but slowly warms up to their dark humour. In the aftermath of a betrayal by Nina, Matthias has been locked up in prison where he has had time to plan his revenge. He’s out for Nina’s blood but, at the same time, cannot shut off his feelings for the attractive Grisha. Whenever those two interacted, I was at the edge of my seat. These two added a lovely amount of pure entertainment, sparks, and heartbreak to the story. Definitely OTP material.

“I want to feel safe again. I want to go home to Ravka.”
“Then I’ll take you there. We’ll set fire to raisins or whatever you heathens do for fun.”
“Zealot,” she said weakly.
“Witch.”
“Barbarian.”
“Nina,” he whispered, “little red bird. Don’t go.”

Wylan. Raised in a wealthy home, inconspicuous Wylan has run away from home and joined the Dregs on a temporary basis, though I think his contract might be extended. He’s a plain and quiet boy, but there’s more to him than he lets on, and I really liked that about him. He’s all softness and morals, a perfect counterpart to most of the other Dregs with their thirst for blood, money, and revenge. He’s also Jesper’s preferred victim when it comes to the latter’s teasing, especially side blows about playing the flute and being a pampered rich boy.

“If only you could talk to girls in equations.”
There was a long silence, and then, eyes trained on the notch they’d created in the link, Wylan said, “Just girls?”

Bardugo’s writing, though not known for its elegance, is witty and beautiful in its wording. I have always found myself connecting with her craft, and she offers a shitload of sarcasm, which is exactly my jam. Albeit following a well known fantasy line, the plot was an intriguing combination of crazy stunts, painful backstories, and little romances. The characters continuously dance on the morally grey line between white and black, and you all know how I love me some of that.

Six of Crows offers a fast-paced heist, a diverse cast of fleshed out characters, action-packed passages, and mind-blowing twists. Though the plot cannot be considered unique for a YA fantasy, Bardugo’s morally grey cast of characters truly brings this story to life and charms its way into the reader’s heart. I’ve grown really attached to his world and these intriguing characters, and I swear to God, if Bardugo pulls another R&r on me, I will go berserk.

“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.
Kaz rolled his eyes. “The easiest way to steal a man’s wallet is to tell him you’re going to steal his watch.”

I love this crew of little thieving misfits so much. Think I’ll just drop out of university and join the Dregs. The urge is real.