Our favorite band of miscreants is back in action, and whoa was this an epic sequel. The book starts off with a bang and it really doesn’t slow down, even to the very end. Every little detail that goes into their plan brought me immense joy… I cannot stress enough how clever Kaz is with his thorough planning. Once again, I love how it feels like we get to experience so much “behind the scenes” as they put together plans and go over details, yet when it comes time to complete their missions, we’re still just as surprised as ever. I truly can’t wait to see this come to life on Netflix, because I feel like the twists and turns could really make for an exciting show.
Crooked Kingdom was fast-paced, and the fact that the majority of Ketterdam was against the Six gave me an overarching sense of doom (a very crooked kingdom indeed). Ketterdam is not a good place, they have no allies, and the entire city seems to be fighting against them (including their own gang at one point). The stakes were higher and they were forced to keep on their toes, which I felt was a new aspect to this book that wasn’t in the last one. The Six were scrambling from the moment they got Inej back from Van Eck, and when I found out that Pekka Rollins and Van Eck teamed up together against them, I felt so bleak… how could they come out victorious? Neither Pekka nor Van Eck were truly villainous in the last book, but we got to see just how greedy and selfish they both were in this one. Each man got what was coming to him, and it made me so happy to see them suffer while the Six used their own plans against them. While Van Eck’s prison sentence was more than satisfactory, what Kaz did to Pekka gave me chills. To make him afraid for the rest of his life that Kaz would be coming for his son… just perfect. As Kaz said so eloquently, “I could only kill Pekka’s son once… he can imagine his death a thousand times.” And when Inej came for Pekka at the end, to scare the living daylights out of him and leave a crow in his son’s arms?? Absolutely chilling, but in the best way possible. It was like eating dessert after a very satisfactory meal. Talk about a “chef’s kiss”.
Wylan’s perspective is new to this book, and I have to say that I’m here for it. While I mentioned he wasn’t one of my favorite characters in my Six of Crows Review (oh, you haven’t read that review yet? I think you need to check it out), I liked the direction of his thoughts. I felt this new perspective really brought a certain depth to his character than we had not previously seen. When we first met him in Six of Crows, we got the impression that he was a spoiled merch kid, who ran away from his father and was playing “bad guy” with Ketterdam’s worst. As the first book went on, we saw that he in fact had many strengths, including intelligence, wit, and his ability to invent valuable bombs that got them out of a scrape or two. Now that we know he ran away from his father because his dad tried to have him killed, I really feel for the kid. And him and Jesper? Say no more, I loved it! They really are the most adorable couple and I’m glad they ended up together.
Speaking of Jesper, I felt like he finally started to look inward at himself. It sounds like he had spent much of his life running from his problems, and running from what made him who he really is. When I read about what happened to his mom, my heart just broke for Jesper and his father. No wonder his dad was terrified to let Jesper use his powers (loved Colm’s character by the way). I’m glad he took Inej’s Suli proverb to heart to not apologize, but to learn from his mistakes and not repeat them. I felt like the book ended well with him and Wylan managing Wylan’s new estate… quite the happy ending there.
What I am NOT satisfied with is the death of Matthias… why did Leigh have to kill him off like that?! I know authors make characters die for substance, so we can grieve and connect with the story on a deeper level… but that was cruel. Especially to have him killed off in such a gut wrenching way, by a younger druskelle who was so misguided and full of such hatred. He should have been able to help others with Nina, to go and teach his people not to hate Grisha. Ugh. Like Wylan said, they were all supposed to make it at the end. I was soooo upset over his death, and I don’t know if I can ever forgive Leigh for that one.
I mentioned in my last review that Inej wasn’t one of my favorite characters, and her relationship with Kaz drove me nuts at times. Crooked Kingdom brought a little more substance to both of them, showing just how broken they both are individually. I think they kept their struggles buried so deep within them, and really, who wouldn’t be afraid to let someone in when you’ve been holding on to such darkness? I’m glad that towards the end of the book, Kaz and Inej really start to realize that they rely on each other, and that is okay. I enjoyed watching them acknowledge their feelings towards one another, and slowly start to chip away at the ice surrounding each of their hearts. They weren’t the perfect couple, but they were perfect for each other, and I actually began to love them by the end. When Inej’s family showed up at the docks and we found out Kaz had orchestrated their reunion, I actually cried. It was such an unexpected genuine action from him, and I’m so happy to see that Inej convinced him to be the better man and not succumb to the crookedness of Ketterdam’s ways.
Overall, this was an incredible sequel, and I’m almost upset that this series was only a duology. The author built such deep characters over the course of just two stories, and I wish we could see more of the Six in action. Maybe we’ll see them in more of her other Grisha novels in the future (don’t mind my wistful thinking over here). The other series are definitely at the top of my TBR list and I can’t wait to dive into the Grishaverse once again!