Book Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

18 March 2019



Hello Readers & Friends,

Okay, let's take a minute (or hour) to discuss Crooked Kingdom.
I read Six of Crows and loved it enough to post a review here, (I only tend to write a full review if I either loved or loathed a book) and I would say Crooked Kingdom is even better.

I genuinely would go as far as saying that Bardugo is one of the best fantasy writers of our generation. A huge statement? Yes. Do I care? No.
This book took me two weeks to read. The last time a book took me two weeks to read it was the mammoth A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Crooked Kingdom is not an easy read. You have to go slow, pay attention, concentrate and think the whole way through.

The dialogue is delicious. Her characters are the best I've ever read. She makes me want to read and re-read and re-read most paragraphs again and again.

Some of my favourite quotes to pick out include:

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn't walk, I'd crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we'd fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that's what we do. We never stop fighting.”

“Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.” 

“Crows remember human faces. They remember the people who feed them, who are kind to them. And the people who wrong them too. They don’t forget. They tell each other who to look after and who to watch out for.” 

“Have any of you wondered what I did with all the cash Pekka Rollins gave us?"
"Guns?" asked Jesper.
"Ships?" queried Inej.
"Bombs?" suggested Wylan.
"Political bribes?" offered Nina. They all looked at Matthias. "This is where you tell us how awful we are," she whispered.

He shrugged. "They all seem like practical choices.” 

“No mourners, no funerals. Another way of saying good luck. But it was something more. A dark wink to the fact that there would be no expensive burials for people like them, no marble markers to remember their names, no wreaths of myrtle and rose.” 

And now I have to stop myself because I could sit and write every sentence of the book because it's all so great.

The characters, all the main characters, are the most complex, realistic and three-dimensional characters I have ever read. Every single one has a strong backstory that drives every single action they undertake, every single witty response, and every single choice. And they're all so different, so contrasting. In other huge fantasies that I love, like The Mortal Instruments, it is always still only the main one or two charactes who are filled with such depth. Hell, even the antagonists are twisted and delightful and clearly understandable. Because of this you are sucked so deeply into the world when you read that when it's finished you suffer the world's worst book hangover (like I am right now!).

So now I've banged on and on about how much I love the characters, dialogue and writing, let's move onto some SPOILERS.


 


SPOILERS BELOW:

What I loved:

Kaz Brekker will forever be my most favourite character. Potentially of all time. He is so deep, so complex, so intelligent. Kaz Brekker is always one step ahead of everyone, including the reader. I marvel at his wit, his cunning and everything he does surprises me - even when it shouldnt. I used to be called Kaz at uni because my middle name is Kazumi, and my love for Kaz Brekker makes me want to re-adopt this old nickname. He is divine.

Kaz and Inej. This is not insta-love, it's not cheesy and cliche. It's complicated and difficult and never really happens but is always beneath the surface and the ending leaves you wondering if anything will ever happen and hoping that it will and, for me, deciding that it must.

Nina and Matthias. Although Matthias was a fine character, my personality didn't like his. I just found him too uptight and boring and strict. I loved how he was paired with Nina, the total opposite. I loved their love/hate relationship that really climaxed in this second book. I loved how she made him seem more fun. If there was no Nina, Matthias would have fallen flat for me.

The death of Matthias was needed. It would have been too unrealistic to believe this team could have escaped death so many times on their missions. I liked that it was Matthias because I felt the pain through Nina, whereas I wouldn't have felt it otherwise. It was needed, and it was sad, and it made me like his character a lot more. Of couse he would die being honourable - he was Helvar through to the very end.

Wylan is a wonderful character. He was always surprising me and of all the characters he had the most thorough development. I loved how every discovery about his father drove him forwards, propelling him into a stronger person. In the first book he was just a meek little boy, always afraid. He ended up doing a bit of a Neville Longbottom and being the hero of the final mission in this story. The best part is that I don't think he even realised what a hero he was.

Jesper is my man-crush in this book, despite the fact he is completely gay. He's the light and laughter and witty, reckless fun that the group needed. And I loved the slow burn of his and Wylan's relationship. I loved the addition of his father in this book to round him out and help us to understand his drive more deeply. It also added a layer of family into the story, when until then the characters had mostly been driven by a lack-of family.

Nina and Inej was the much-needed female friendship we needed. It felt as though it was desperately needed for Inej to have this female support system after her time in the menagerie and they were such a heartwarming duo throughout. 


What I loved less:

There is so much localised terminology, so many different nationalities and countries and alliances and languages that it made it quite hard to remember what's what. Particularly at the big auction at the end, it was quite difficult for me to recall which country is in which state and why, which made the climax of the auction difficult to follow.

Pekka Rollins and Per Haskell - I don't know if it's because they both begin with a P and are both antagonists but I had them confused and mixed up all the time.

Kuwei - What a bore. I forgot he existed for most of the book. The only time he was interesting was when Jesper kissed him by accident and we finally saw a bit of personality.


 

This is the first duology by Bardugo that I've read, and I'm going to be adding all her other books to my TBR immediately. I cannot explain how much I loved it and I can only pray that it is made into a film.

For the record, if it is, my casting would be as follows:
Kaz - Jamie Campbell Bower with black hair.
Inej - Shay Mitchell
Matthias - Chris Hemsworth
Nina - Scarlett Johansson
Jesper - Michael B Jordan
Wylan - Robert Sheehan
(Fox, if you read this, please take my casting into serious consideration.)


Did you read it? What did you think? I'll be reeling over the ending for days.
Love, C x

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