I read the Grisha Verse series by Leigh Bardugo in 2015 and adored it. I picked it up because it was Russian inspired – and this Russian vibe was definitely present. I’ll admit there were a lot of inconsistencies that someone familiar with or part of the Russian community will find grating (naming conventions are sometimes ignored, but sometimes respected, the Russian drinking stereotype was enforced, the name “Grisha” itself while sounding cool is actually a male nickname and didn’t make sense). Overall, I still loved the series because the world felt alive, lush and because it was engaging enough that I read all three books one after another (which I never do).
By the time that I finished the series, I knew Six of Crows was going to be released. And I bought it.
….And haven’t read it for two years.
Six of Crows is set in the same world as the original trilogy, the basis of its appeal, but I wasn’t sure I’d like the story as much. Ironically, I enjoyed it more. Six of Crows introduces us to the gangs of Ketterdam, specifically a band of thieves who call themselves the Dregs, led by the enigmatic Kaz Brekker. And of course they’re going to try to pull the biggest heist of their lives. This book is Ocean’s Eleven + troubled youths + magic.
“No mourners,” he said with a grin.
“No funerals,” they replied in unison. (pg 332)
The strength of the book is its characters. I liked their complicated backgrounds and flawed stories. The book alternates perspectives between the members of the heist crew, allowing you to get to know the characters you may not like, explaining some of their behaviour, but often, I found that what I enjoyed most about hearing from characters I didn’t like was that they didn’t have excuses – you didn’t have to like ’em.
“We all carry our sins, Nina. I need you to live so I can atone for mine.” (pg 436)
The second strength is that the love story usually present in YA takes a backseat to the characters. Rather than the characters feeling love from the get go, there is actual build up of feelings, but even so, the epic heist takes precedence.
The weakness of the book is that I wouldn’t recommend it to you without having read the Grisha trilogy first. There’s so much that I brought to this book, as far as building the set of the universe in my mind, that I would be lacking had I not read the trilogy first. I’d be really curious to talk to someone who had started their Leigh Bardugo adventure with Six of Crows to hear if they felt the same way about it without the context of the world.
I’m at my local bookshop today (#smallbizSaturday, also #shoplocal) to buy Crooked Kingdom. You’ll forgive me as I disappear into my reading chair.