Wow, was this a fast read. Maybe I’ve become a little too acclimated to large books, but I felt like I flew through this one. The intriguing characters and the breakneck plot definitely helped keep me on my toes. I have to say, the Six of Crows duology was my first dip into the Grishaverse… which may have been out of line chronologically, but I’ve heard from other book worm colleagues that it doesn’t matter until you get to King of Scars. I recognized some characters that made brief appearances in Crooked Kingdom, so it was interesting to go back in time to learn of the events that happened in Ravka. Also, I am STOKED to see this come to life with Six of Crows on Netflix. There’s just something about this universe that I feel is going to be amazing on screen.
The story is told through Alina Starkov’s point of view, and she is a scrawny, sickly girl working as a cartographer in the army. After an attack in the Fold, she accidentally summoned light, marking her as a Grisha Sun Summoner (extremely rare). She was taken immediately to meet the Darkling… the most powerful Grisha ever (ummmm hiiiiiiii). He then takes her to the Little Palace to educate her in the Grisha ways and to help her learn her powers. I’ll admit that during Six of Crows, I was a little confused when it came to the Grisha. It might have come in handy to start with this series so you learn about the different kinds of Grisha and their history. I felt like this book explained it all much better (which duh, it was Leigh Bardugo’s first book in the Grishaverse so that makes sense), and I really liked the insight into the Grisha lifestyle. The Grishaverse is just so elaborate and detailed, and I honestly am enjoying the Russian steampunk vibes I get from it.
Alina was a very good main character; I loved her thoughtfulness and her realistic sense of humor. It made so much sense to learn that she had always been a sickly girl because she was suppressing her powers. Once she let go of the past and accepted that she was a powerful Grisha, she blossomed into life. Honestly, I enjoyed her time spent at the Little Palace… even if it was all a farce. That was really the only place she had ever felt like she belonged. Mal was a so so character… to be completely honest, he did nothing for me. And I sometimes found him annoying, especially when he didn’t like Alina’s powers. She was thriving at the Little Palace without him, but once he’s back in her life she becomes sickly again from repressing her powers. Their background together at the orphanage was touching, but it seemed like he didn’t appreciate Alina until she was gone, then suddenly wanted her for himself. Her attachment to him drove me a little nuts at times… call me crazy, I know. I kept waiting for him to be killed off, but it hasn’t happened yet.
The Darkling, on the other hand… ummmmmmmmm I don’t know what to think. Ok, I know what to think, but it could be a sign of mental illness so I’m hesitant to share my opinion of him. Because tall, dark haired, handsome, and powerful? Sounds like my literary cup of tea… so I was as surprised as Alina to learn about his true intentions to use her for his own powerful gains. Which hasn’t turned me off, by the way (not a good sign when the villain is still your favorite character). I want to know his real intent for Alina… not the version Baghra told her. But he hasn’t denied anything, either… But I think he actually loves Alina too! Like come on… maybe I fell for the kiss he gave her that surprised them both, but I think there’s something deeper to his villainy. And yes… putting the bone collar on her was a tad bit alarming… yet I can’t help but feel drawn to him. As you can see, my conflict with myself over my thoughts about the Darkling runs deep… stay tuned to see if I still feel this way in the books to come. If you also found the Darkling alluring, let me know. We can go to therapy together. Along with those who love Darth Vader from Star Wars (whaaaa? not me… couldn’t be me…).
It makes me wonder if Alina should have just waited out the Darkling’s plan instead of getting herself and Mal in trouble by going on the run. In my opinion, she should have just played it cool while trying to glean his true intentions… she also might have learned more from the Apparat, which I have a hunch that he is a super important character. She didn’t like his creepy sayings, and I couldn’t tell if he was a good guy or a bad guy, but he definitely knew some shit and may have tried to warn her. But she ran, and really hasn’t stopped running since. I don’t know what’s in store for her, but I certainly have an eerie feeling about her future… watch out for the Siege and Storm review coming in hot, because I just know I will blow through that one as well.