Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

“This isn’t a job for trained soldiers and spies. This is a job for thugs and thieves.”

Six of Crows has a lot of the elements of a story that I would love. There’s a heist. There are multiple perspectives. There are the Dregs of society (see what I did there?). But does that mean I loved SOC? Not so much. I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem isn’t the concept or the world but the author. There’s just something about Leigh Bardugo’s writing style and characterisation that doesn’t sit right with me. And unfortunately I’m a huge character reader so if  I can’t get into the characters it gets a lot harder for me to get into the story.

By default, the premise had me interested. Heist stories are always fun. They usually involve morally grey characters and these are my favourite type of people. No one wants to read about happy people. Scratch that − I don’t want to read about happy people. But I digress, the plot left a little to be desired and it’s largely in part to what I mentioned about the characters. I didn’t care about half of the cast so whenever their chapters came up I rolled my eyes a little. I also had a huge problem with fluff. I remember reading scenes and thinking “how does this affect the wider story?” quite a few times. And it just felt like I was wasting time I could be using reading actual interesting parts about the better characters.

Character wise, the Dregs are definitely a diverse sight to behold. And while I appreciate that, there wasn’t anything that was really little mention of it other than Matthias and Nina. I would have loved a lot more into Inej’s Suli culture and Jesper’s Zemeni culture because I actually liked them but they were swept aside in Jesper’s case and made to feel like a girl in a really weird infatuation in Inej’s. This brings me to the leader of the crew, Kaz Brekker. Right away he was described as the perfect thief at only sixteen/seventeen (?) years old. As the story went on we learned what happened and I can see why people would come to like him but it was already too little too late. Despite all of this, the characters weren’t bad . Some needed a lot less attention and some need a lot more.

All was not lost in Six of Crows though. The world of the Grishaverse was expanded beyond Ravkan borders. We were walked the streets of Ketterdam and the halls of the Fjerdan Ice Court. And we were privy to tastes of Suli, Zemeni, and the Fjerdan drüskelles cultures. Though I may have my problems with her writing style I definitely cannot criticise Bardugo for not writing diversely.

Like I said, Six of Crows wasn’t bad. I could definitely see myself really liking this with a few tweaks in the pacing and a better distribution of attention among the characters. I do plan on reading the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, to see if Bardugo fixes the attention problem but it’s 448 pages long… Let’s hope she also learned a thing or two about pacing and editing.

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