With gloved magician hands and fluent in the language of trickery, there is no job too dirty for Kaz Brekker, the deadliest boy in Ketterdam. But what about impossible?
Well just give him two things: the right incentive—an unholy amount of money would do—and a deadly crew.
Leigh Bardugo’s, Six of Crows, follows six badasses (eh ehm, technically criminals) in the brilliantly complex world of Grishas as they attempt an impossible heist, whilst trying not to kill each other. Sounds fun! And it certainly is. Kaz Brekker, the leader of the Dregs, is offered a job—to retrieve a scientist who is being held hostage in the impenetrable Ice Court. A scientist who is being forced to create a drug that enhances the abilities of the Grisha, who will, in turn, be used as the Ice Court’s weapons against their enemies.
A quick note: saying this to non-readers will result in them questioning your sanity.
This novel will have you catching your breath at the end of almost every chapter, and closing the book is not an option – I would know the feeling as I stayed up till 5am devouring it.
This is my first time reading something by Bardugo which is why I can safely say that you can read Six of Crows without reading The Grisha Trilogy, despite what my friend thought. I was warned that reading this before The Grisha Trilogy was a lot like going straight to the dessert, but like any person who has chosen chocolate mousse over food–I have no regrets.
In this tale, like most jaded characters, Kaz Brekker’s past is filled with the kind of darkness only monsters survive, irreversibly setting him on the path to becoming the infamous, Bastard of the Barrel. He is the perfect anti-hero, so full of layers; cruel and ruthless, yet you find his unpleasantness rather charming despite yourself. In fact, it’s because of his many flaws I found myself drawn to him and concerned about his wellbeing (and praying for his much-deserved happily-ever-after to come soon).
He has a heart, I swear.
With such an intriguing leader, it’s often hard to create other characters that shine just as bright. But Bardugo managed just that. In their own unique way, the rest of the gang pulls at your heart strings just as strongly. Inej and Nina, the two females in the group are great examples, both of them are physically and emotionally kickass. Inej Ghafa is the acrobat turned spy who can scale any building (or anything for that matter). She is the girl who finds comfort in her knives and will not allow her heart to be taken for anything less than it deserves.
“You may still die in the dregs.” Inej’s dark eyes had glinted. “I may. But I’ll die on my feet with a knife in my hand.”
Nina Zenik, the bubbly one out of the two, is hilarious, daring and charming. Fiercely loyal to her Ravkan roots, she will not betray her fellow Grishas, no matter what—even at the price of a friend’s freedom. I wouldn’t say that it was her loyalty that was her downfall, but rather how she stubbornly clung to her Ravkan influenced views on certain things.
“It’s not natural for women to fight,” he said.
“It’s not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.”
All in all, despite the girls’ rough edges, they maintained their femininity, flaunting and wielding it like one more weapon in their arsenal, which I highly respect.
The three boys rounding out the team consist of Jesper Fahey, the smart mouth sharpshooter, Wylan Van Eck, the inexperienced, yet highly valuable demolitionist and Matthias Helvar, the hostile former Fjerda soldier. Each of the members is fleshed out with their own reasons for taking on this heist and they offer drama and comic relief. The banter between the characters is just what you need to keep you sane through this hectic, action-packed novel.
“You were early, Jesper,” Kaz said as he nudged Matthias towards the boat.
“I was on time.”
“For you, that’s early. Next time you plan to impress me give me some warning.”
“The animals are out, and I found you a boat. This is when a thank you would be in order.”
“Thank you, Jesper,” said Nina.
“You’re very welcome, gorgeous. See, Kaz? That’s how the civilised folk do.”
One of the things that I had a problem with (because this is a review and I need to put this bloody part in, to keep it balanced) is the ages of the main characters. I had trouble thinking of them as 16, 17 and 18, and although I get that it was their upbringing that led them to be so mature for their ages, I often found myself imaging them in their mid to late 20s.
Speaking of their upbringing, these characters’ pasts are revealed in just the right doses to better inform you but still keep you curious enough to read on, which is the golden standard as far as writing styles go. The writer interweaves the characters’ past seamlessly throughout the novel so that the reader never feels bombarded with flashbacks.
Bardugo’s writing style is a balanced mix between fast-paced and taking time with certain details, action and emotions, drama and… Okay, I was going to say downtime but that would be a lie – and ups and downs.
In saying all of that, I still need to read Crooked Kingdom which is worrisome since a lot happened and not one of the main characters died in Six of Crows. I’m not sure about Bardugo’s style in killing off characters since this is the first book I’m reading of hers, but I know deep down that one of my babies are going to have to die. And since I’ve been told I’m weirdly psychic (thanks, Lee-Anne), here are my predictions:
- Some love stories end before others and Nina is already in a poor state, I have a strong feeling that for some weird poetic injustice, Matthias, Nina’s Fjerda soldier, is going to die (fingers crossed I’m wrong).
- I have no doubt that Inej will escape, it’s just the case of how. Will Kaz get her out or will she save herself? My money is on Inej breaking herself out of that prison, because to be honest she is as much of a damsel in distress as Mulan is.
- And for the love of cute, innocent monkeys – freaking Jesper and Wylan will be an item in the next book. If they are not – heads will roll!