Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Five solid stars. This book pulled me in from the beginning, to the point where I knew I'd found a favorite before I was halfway through. Here, Bardugo integrates a creative plot, interesting and morally grey characters, group dynamics and banter, a great writing style, and some really, really prime romance plots. Goddamn, can Leigh Bardugo write romance. There are very, very few books that I love so wholeheartedly. This series truly is my favorite fantasy series of all time. There's no competition whatsoever.


Bardugo tosses you right into the main plot from the beginning and keeps you engaged all the way through, even when her focus is on character work. Her plotting is incredibly engaging, with so many twists and turns that the book is hard to put down. This book focuses on mind games and clever plotting. The dregs need to have a thousand backup plans, and everything is brilliantly planned by Bardugo.

The Grisha's worldbuilding is very engaging, even though we're thrown in without context; I remember thinking that I would have appreciated a proper map of Ketterdam, and then we GOT a good map in book two! Bardugo's prose is awesome, and there are some truly gorgeous quotes from here. Then again, it doesn't feel as if she's trying too hard or using purple prose.


Bardugo nails character work here. Every single character grows, every single character develops, every single character owns my heart. okay maybe not Matthias quite as much but w/e
A gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost Grisha, a Suli girl who had become a killer, a boy from the Barrel who had become something worse.
The totally casual diversity also deserves a shoutout; Bardugo has THREE lgbt characters, two nonwhite characters, a disabled character, a major girl character who's not skinny but isn't shamed for it, a character with dyslexia, and two badass girl characters.

Inej is a member of a gang and a murderer, but she desperately wants to do the right thing and liberate slaves like herself. She's gone through hell and she's come out strong and in control. She feels so real on page; she has a heart but she only lets it out around the people she cares about.

I like that Kaz is the most manipulative, terrible, morally black protagonist I've ever read about, and I love him to pieces. He's absolutely an antihero; yes, he's on a mission to save the world, but does he care about saving the world? Nope, he cares about getting his cash. He still manages to be a complex, dimensional character, who genuinely cares about his friends not dying (though he'd never admit it).

Jesper is witty and an absolute delight to get a POV chapter from, but he's also incredibly sympathetic as a former farm boy who fell from grace. He likes living on the edge, and he's aware of the pain his own actions have caused him, and he's trying to work through it.

Nina is hilarious and idealistic and clever and can go from flirting to making speeches within ten seconds. She's such a great character because she's so earnest and positive despite everything that's happened to her. She's also one of the most badass characters ever.

Wylan doesn't actually have pov chapters here, but he's getting a shoutout from me anyway because of his pov chapters in CK. He's entertaining here, too, coming off as a blushing do-gooder but with rumor and intrigue swirling around his actual past. [minor spoiler] remember when we all thought he'd gotten kicked out for banging his tutor? is it even canonically confirmed that he didn't? i need answers

Matthias is honestly my least favorite. He's dynamic enough and he's got a great character arc, but I don't feel as if he's nearly as original a character as my favorite five.


The Dregs are such an amazing squad all together. Their banter owns my heart. Jesper and Inej especially have one of my favorite friendship dynamics of all time; their banter and their genuine trust in each other and their lowkey joking about their mutual crush on Kaz. Inej and Nina stand out as well; extra credit for passing the bechdel test with flying colors. Also, the dialogue here absolutely rules. You have no idea how many times I had to hold in laughter.
“When we get our money, you can burn kruge to keep you warm,” said Kaz. “Let’s go.” Jesper consulted his compass, and they turned south. “I’m going to pay someone to burn my kruge for me.” Kaz fell into step beside him. “Why don’t you pay someone else to pay someone to burn your kruge for you? That’s what the big players do.” “You know what the really big bosses do? They pay someone to pay someone to …”

Seriously, I felt the need to give this an entire section of its own, because the romance here is SO good. But the romance plots never overtake the book; I have an annotations list for these books, and there are twice as many good character moments and gorgeous quotes as there are romantic moments.

Kaz and Inej are one of my all-time favorite book couples. No, really, they are my third favorite of all time. They have so many small moments and such slow-build romantic development. And then, as if I weren't invested already, they have that one declaration scene which honestly made me swoon.
I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.
Jesper and Wylan are just cute for most of the book. They got some cute relationship build, but I wasn't that invested. And then that One Line at the end of the book shows up and they KILLED me. Really, Bardugo? You could've left me heart intact instead, but?? not so much. Also, side note, but I don't understand how anyone was surprised they're a thing in book two. I know heteronormativity is a thing that exists, but how can you read "not just girls" and mutual blushing in a heterosexual way?

Matthias and Nina were honestly not that big a ship for me here. I absolutely understand what's appealing about their dynamic; they're sweet and have amazing relationship development. But they don't appeal to me personally; I don't have to lie down for twenty minutes when I read their scenes. 

TL;DR: I was never bored by this book, and I love the characters more than my own life. Highly recommended.


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