Spoiler-free review: should you read this? Yes! 4/5 stars.
The blurb: I won’t put the blurb here to avoid spoilers for the first half of the story, Six of Crows. However, if you’re interested, you can see the blurb for that book and my review here.
This will be a short and slightly stunted, odd review as I attempt to avoid any and all spoilers. So, the short version: this is very good and if you enjoy fantasy fiction and haven’t read Six of Crows yet, get that book and then move on to this one! 🙂
All the good things I said about book 1 of this duology also apply to Crooked Kingdom, so I’ll try not to repeat myself here by going on about great use of multiple viewpoint, skillful plotting and brilliant character development. That said, I didn’t enjoy Crooked Kingdom quite as much as Six of Crows. It didn’t have the same sparkle or nail-biting quality. Also, I did start to wonder whether the series of double, triple and quadruple crossings were maybe drawing things out a little too much. However, this is all more than compensated for by wonderful interactions between the main characters and the descriptions of Ketterdam.
This time, all the action takes place within the city limits, giving Bardugo more time to describe all the nooks and crannies of Ketterdam, bringing it out as a character in its own right. I honestly believe I could tell you what different parts of the place smell like, that’s how good her descriptions are.
And this book is much funnier than the first. As the characters become ever more comfortable with each other, their conversations sometimes slip into sibling-like squabbling and are very amusing. I laughed out loud more than once at Jesper’s comments, particularly his digs at Wylan.
If you do plan on reading the Grisha trilogy as well as the Six of Crows duology, I’d suggest reading the Grisha first. In my review of Six of Crows, I said you didn’t really need to have read the Grisha first, but Crooked Kingdom does contain some spoilers for the trilogy. However, for those of us who’ve already read the Grisha, it was great to see some of the most interesting characters from that series pop up here.
I didn’t feel the ending was entirely satisfying. But then I think this is because most of the characters are only 17 and Bardugo has plans for them in the future. She can’t wrap everything up in a neat bow if she has to leave some threads hanging for future development. And I, for one, would be delighted to see any of the main characters again 🙂
Overall: more brilliant plotting and great character development make for another wonderful book. I hope we get to see more from the characters in the future.