I saw this book all over Instagram and people kept raving about it, so I decided to try it. I am so glad I did! I love a good heist story and this is the best I’ve read.
I read Shadow and Bone a number of years ago when it first came out. I thought that one was okay, not bad. It just didn’t strike me as anything spectacular. I imagine through lots of hard work, Leigh Bardugo has vastly improved her writing skills. I admire her all the more for that.
Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher Henry Holt and Co
The story begins in Ketterdam a corrupt city filled with criminals of all kinds.
Kaz Brekker is a young man who has survived and is climbing the ranks of criminals. The city has made him tough. He is hired to break someone out of the most secure prison in all the lands– a prison which no one has ever successfully broken into and survived. Kaz accepts and selects a highly skilled team to accomplish this.
Kaz is the mastermind.
Inej, called The Wraith, is a girl who seems to disappear at will like a ghost. (My favorite character!)
Wylan, a privileged boy who ran away from that privilege. How he fits into the group is not apparent at first.
Nina, a Heartrender, who uses her magic to survive this city.
Matthias, a soldier who desires revenge.
Jesper, a sharpshooter.
Each character has their own story, so none of them are flat characters. Each character has their own reason for going on this heist. Sometimes those reasons conflict with the goals of others, so they have to decide where their true loyalties lie with their friends, or someplace else.
The magic system is fascinating and full of creative surprises. Heartrenders can manipulate things having to do with the body. Fabricators can manipulate metals and other materials. Tidebringers manipulate water. As you read you will discover many other fascinating tidbits of information on this magic system. I love creative magic systems.
Even the city itself feels like a character with a personality. It is multidimensional like a character.But that is more so in Book 2 The Crooked Kingdom. Usually I read book one so that I know enough to recommend a story to my students. I don’t have time to read book two, three, four, etc. This was an exception though. When I finished Six of Crows, I immediately started Crooked Kingdom.
Amazing! Each chapter is an alternating POV. The Six of Crows rotates through 5 of the characters. Crooked Kingdom has 6 regular character POVs plus a couple other characters for a single chapter as needed. She writes all the POV changes beautifully. Each character has their own unique voice.
Each character has their own back story but she doesn’t dump it all on you at once. She artfully weaves it into the tale as the backstory becomes necessary to understand the character. The story comes out organically from events in the story present. I never tired of hearing the back stories. Each character grew in some way; they learned who they were and who they were meant to be. If you want to study how to write characters well, read this!
Like many experienced readers, I can often accurately predict plot twists. Bardugo was able to throw some in that were a pleasant surprise to me.
Who Will Like This?
Everyone! Okay Seriously, those who love a great heist story. Think low-tech, magical Oceans Eleven, only better because it is a book with all kinds of delicious details.
People who like a good character story will love this.
If you love cool magic systems you will love this. It has a little love interest but as a side story to complicate things for the characters, not the central focus. The type of love here is not some immature all-consuming fawning over a person (that drive me crazy), it is a more mature type of love. The characters are all 16-17 years old but it is easy to forget because the life they live forced them to all grow up real fast.
Foul Language: No.
Violence: Yes. Nothing too graphic. Some description is a bit gory but that is due to description of something I can’t spoil, not violence.
Sexual Content: Hints at it. Very vague, most younger readers wouldn’t know it.
(Crooked Kingdom has a little more but nothing too graphic.)
Substance Abuse: Well yes. It wouldn’t dissuade me from allowing a child to read it because it is emphasizing the dangers of the drug and becoming addicted to it, not glorifying it.